Single Parent Adoption Law

An unmarried person can legally adopt a child. Yet, single adoptive parents can face unique barriers and higher scrutiny in the process. Learn how to prepare.

In 1970, if you had gone to an adoption agency as a single person and applied to adopt a child, you would, unfortunately, have had little chance of success. It just didn't happen.

Historically, marital status was a barrier to adoption. There was a strong bias against single-parent adoption. The adoption laws reflected the opposition.

But now, thousands of children in the United States live with one parent. Singles have more opportunities to provide a permanent loving home for a child via adoption.

Can I Adopt a Child If I'm Single?

Yes, you can adopt a child in the U.S. if you meet the other qualifications for an adoption.

In the last several decades, there has been a steady, sizable increase in single-parent adoptions. Some believe that it's the fastest-growing trend in the adoption field. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, more than a quarter of all adoptions from foster care were by single people in 2017.

Why Is Single-Parent Adoption Becoming More Common?

Many factors have encouraged the acceptance of single-parent families. Perhaps the most important factor is the growing number of one-parent households due to divorce. Many unmarried single women have and keep their babies.

Now that thousands of children in the United States live with one parent, single people have more opportunities to provide a permanent loving home for a child via adoption.

Adoption agencies have been more willing to consider single people as prospective adopters. In addition, research studies from 2016 have indicated that adopted children raised by single parents fare just as well as those adopted by couples, if not better.

Obstacles To Single-Parent Adoption

Despite the modern adoption process, single people may still encounter issues. 

Social Challenges

Your friends and family members may be your first hurdle. They may not understand why anyone would be responsible for raising a child alone.

Have an open dialogue with loved ones. Explaining your decision with them can be helpful, primarily if they can provide you with a support system before, during, and post-adoption.

Managing the Financial Impact

Personal finances are also an issue when considering adoption. It would help if you thought about adoption costs. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adoption fees might cost a lot of money, especially in a private adoption.

In this type of adoption, prospective parents may pay the following:

  • Birth parents' medical costs/medical fees
  • Both the adoptive and the birth parents' legal fees
  • Court costs
  • Home study costs
  • Social services fees

However, adoption subsidies are often available at state and federal levels, even when you don't pay for adoption services. This is especially true when adopting a child with special needs and disabilities.

The fees range from zero cost to less than $3,000 for adoptive families who decide on a foster care adoption. They are also eligible for the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

Check federal and state laws to confirm your eligibility for adoption assistance.

The Placement Process May Be Harder

Adoption agencies also present obstacles. Some may put your application on the back burner while waiting to find a married couple who wants to adopt.

Biological parents, especially birth mothers, may prefer placing their kids in two-parent families. Single men can also face harsh scrutiny when applying for adoption.

Cultural and Legal Barriers Across Countries

While many unmarried people have had success in international adoptions, other countries restrict adoptions by single parents. There are far more limitations compared to domestic adoption.

Single Parent Adoption: Important Factors To Consider

If you're deciding whether to adopt a child as a single person, consider factors such as:

  • Do you have a robust support system?
  • Is your present job compatible with being a single parent?
  • Are you a somewhat flexible person?
  • Is your financial condition reasonably stable?

Of course, parenting responsibilities will land squarely on your shoulders. You would pick up the child at a friend's house. You would care for the child when sick. You would be their sole provider.

Some prospective adoptive parents choose to become foster parents as a first step in deciding whether they're ready to adopt. Foster care adoptions are a good option.

When approaching agencies and other adoption professionals, it is vital to have confidence in your childcare readiness. If you decide to be a single adoptive parent, know that an adoptee awaits you.

Getting Help With Your Single-Parent Adoption

The process of adopting as a single person may be a challenging one. It's important to have legal counsel by your side as you navigate through your adoption journey.

It is best to consult a knowledgeable adoption attorney who can advise you about the various options available and guide you safely through the adoption process.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • It is a good idea to have an attorney for complex adoptions
  • An attorney can ensure you meet all legal requirements and that your adoption is finalized appropriately
  • An attorney can help protect the best interests of adoptive children, adoptive families, and birth parents
  • For simple adoptions, you may be able to do the paperwork on your own or by using an agency

Get tailored advice at any point in the adoption process. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

 Find a local attorney

Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Adopting a child is an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries to your will and name a guardian for any minor children. Consider creating a financial power of attorney so your agent can pay bills and make sure your children are provided for. A health care directive explains your health care decisions and takes the decision-making burden off your children when they become adults.

Start Planning