This week, we’re taking a bit of a break from our normal routine of posts to support National Adoption Week.
Adoption is often considered and then disregarded as people feel they aren’t able to fulfil expectations. Overweight? Too young? Too old? Not rich enough? Single? Gay? Suffers with depression? A disability?
Well this week we’re going to be featuring a number of our regular contributors who you might not expect to be able to adopt, but they have, and here they share their backgrounds, stories and tips, and hope that if you’re considering adoption but think you might not get approved, then perhaps we might make you see that you might just be perfect to be an adoptive parent.
We’re starting with Suddenly Mummy, a single adoptive parent (and foster carer). This is her story…
Adopting as a single person
300 children were adopted by single adopters during 2011-12 (source: BAAF). My son wasn’t one of them. Our adoption was finalised just six months ago, so I guess we’ll be part of some future set of statistics. Whichever way you look at it though, single adopters are a tiny minority in the adoption community, comprising just 8% of total adoptions.
Much could be said about the complex and varied reasons why relatively few single people adopt, but the one thing that needs to be said loud and clear during National Adoption Week is this: being single is no barrier to becoming an adoptive parent.
I came to adoption via a slightly unorthodox route, starting out as a foster carer and adopting my son after I had fostered him for a year. Being single was never a big issue during the approvals process for either fostering or adoption – it was mentioned, of course, but as one of many areas that were discussed in detail. At no point did anybody give me the impression that being a single person was a negative factor.
Of course, the decision to adopt should not be taken lightly by anybody, and least of all by a single person. If you’re adopting as a single person, you are committing to be a single parent to a child or children who most likely have experienced some level of early childhood trauma. This is not an easy road to walk and there are some things that are worth considering:
Be absolutely honest when you consider your matching sheet.
This advice obviously applies to every adopter but, as a single carer, the burden of responsibility will lie entirely on your shoulders with little respite, so think hard about what you can really cope with long term and do some extra research if necessary.
Plan to provide role models of the opposite sex for your child.
This subject will come up during your home study anyway, so it’s worth thinking about in advance. When my son is old enough, he will go with my friend’s husband and their son to football. Of course, I could take him to football myself, but I want him to have more varied experiences than I could provide alone.
Have a plan for dating and relationships.
This is another subject that will come up during the approval process. Pursuing relationships as a single parent can be complicated and needs to be handled carefully, especially when you are parenting an adopted child whose needs will have to be prioritised, especially in the early days.
Gather your babysitters.
When I planned to become a single carer, I anticipated that I wouldn’t be going out in the evenings much any more. What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to do simple things like getting a haircut or getting my eyes tested with a toddler running around. Make sure you have reliable sitters for both daytime and evening duties!
Start networking among other parents.
Being alone in the house day after day with your child can be . . . well . . . mind-numbing. Much as we adore our children and wouldn’t change our situation for the world and don’t regret it one bit (goes without saying!), it really is vital to have those playdate friends with whom we can share our woes and a few biscuits while our children amuse each other instead of demanding our company incessantly. If you’re in a couple, you can expect someone to walk in the door at the end of the day and give you a little adult conversation. We single carers have to create our own little oases of ‘normality’!
Discover the online community of adopters.
As a single parent, it is likely that you’ll be spending many an evening alone in the house after your little one is in bed. At these times, you might just find that those you tentatively reach out to in the online adoption community can become real friends and a true support as they truly know and understand the unique challenges involved in parenting an adopted child.
So often, the discussion around single parents is one of insufficiency or problem. It is seen as a negative thing, a breakdown or the result of some sort of lack of care and attention. I had always imagined parenting as one partner in a marriage. When that never I happened, I gave up on the idea of becoming a parent, fearing that as a single person, I wouldn’t be able to offer everything a child needed.
Now I understand that there is no single recipe for ‘everything a child needs’. For some children, one-on-one parenting is exactly what is needed and a single adopter can be more than ‘good enough’ or ‘better than the alternative’ – a single adopter could be a lost child’s perfect match. Could you be that person?