A number of factors have encouraged the acceptance of single parent families. Perhaps most is the growing number of one-parent households due to divorce and to unmarried women having and keeping their children.
A recent New York Times article reported that more than half of the Nation's 9.8 million African American children under 18 years of age, nearly one-third of the 7 million Hispanic children, and one-fifth of the Nation's 5 1.1 million Caucasian children live with a single parent.
While women are the primary caregivers for most of these children, there are also one million single fathers in this country. With so many children living in this type of home environment, adoption agencies have been more willing to consider unmarried men and women as prospective adopters. Most of these single parents work full-time and are financially responsible for their families. While shouldering the economic burden, they continue to maintain the home and care for the children. The issue of personal finances has become less important with the availability of adoption subsidies in almost every State for children with special needs. This has encouraged those with limited incomes who are otherwise capable and willing to adopt to pursue adoption
The adoption picture has also changed. The number of healthy Caucasian infants available for adoption has decreased dramatically due to birth control, legalized abortion, and the decision of unwed mothers to keep their babies. Therefore, agencies have a shortage of babies to offer couples who are interested in adoption. Most of the children who are available for adoption are older or have disabilities. As the adoption agencies struggle to find homes for these children, single parent applicants have become more widely accepted. Another factor is that single adoptive parents have proven to be very successful in encouraging their own acceptance. The latest research indicates that children raised in single adoptive parent families compare favorably with other adopted children and show a healthy involvement with friends and family as well as in the activities of their age group.
It has been shown that it is the instability of broken homes, rather than the absence of a parent, that causes difficulty for a child. In 1985, an 8year longitudinal study of 22 single adoptive parents reported that the child care provided by the parents had been consistent and of high quality. The researchers stated that, "The single parents of this study lead busy lives and seem to manage the demands of jobs, home, and parenting with a sure touch." The parents interviewed, who were both African American and Caucasian, had adopted young children, most of whom were under the age of 3. The authors questioned whether a single parent placement would be as appropriate for an older child who has had difficult experiences, since more older children are available today. These researchers concluded that single parent homes may be particularly suited for children who need intense and close relationships and thus particularly appropriate for many of the older children in foster care who are now being prepared for permanent homes. For some children, such a close bond may meet a need and be a path to normal development. Reprinted with permission by:
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse 330 C Street, SW, Washington, DC 20447 (703) 352-3488 (888) 251-0075