Can I adopt as a single parent? Are there challenges?

Many people plan to have children, but as the years drift past, they may not have found the right partner, or are more than happy without one. But a desire to have a family and care for a child is not limited to couples, and the diversity of family life is now widely recognised and celebrated.

It has been possible for individuals to adopt for many years, and under The Adoption and Children Act 2002, single people cannot be discriminated against whatever their gender or sexual orientation, and adoption agencies welcome enquiries from single people. This article discusses the challenges and looks at the case study of Anita from the Midlands, who adopted on her own.

What should I think about when considering single parent adoption?

If you are thinking about adopting as a single person, the following are all things you may wish to consider:

  • What are your life goals? If you have unfulfilled career ambitions or personal goals, then think carefully about how adopting a child is likely to impact on your ability to pursue those ambitions.
  • Do you have a support network? All parents need support, and single parents probably need more than others. Without support, everyday tasks such as shopping or hair appointments, let alone free time, may be hard to come by or manage. Ask yourself whether you have family and friends who support your decision to parent alone, and are they willing to be involved in caring for your child?
  • Can you afford a child? Having sole financial responsibility for a child can be daunting. Although you don’t need to be wealthy to adopt, you will need to demonstrate you are financially stable and can support yourself and your child. Some financial support may be available, depending on eligibility criteria, but in order to avoid unnecessary anxiety, think about how you will make ends meet and whether you should build up savings in advance.
  • Will adoption fit in with your work commitments? Almost everyone needs to work, so think about how family friendly your employer is, and the compatibility of your current career with single parenting. You will need to take time off when the child first comes to live with you, although you may be entitled to adoption leave and pay. Check what your employer offers. Some single adopters decide to adopt school age children because it makes working and parenting more manageable.
  • How will it affect your romantic relationships? Even if you are single now, you may not be single for the rest of your life. Your child will need your undivided attention, at least for the first few months; it could even take years for them to feel completely secure. There are also practical considerations such as babysitting, and if the relationship becomes serious, consider how you will introduce your child and new partner.

Try not to let these challenges prevent you from getting in touch with adoption agencies. During the process, you will have ample opportunity to discuss single parenting and your concerns, and can even ask to meet with other single adopters to share their experience.

Midlands woman, 40 and single, adopts later in life

Anita from the Midlands shared her story as one of a growing group of people who have decided to adopt a child on their own. She was 40 and single when she went ahead with adoption after failing in the preceding years to meet someone she felt was good enough to be a dad. By her own admission she spent her 20s and 30s working hard and partying, but as time passed she felt she was ready to have a child.  Anita describes the fear she went through in the early days after adoption, tacking the process alone, and remaining in a state of shock for the first eight months, even to the point of questioning her decision, feeling an incredible weight of responsibility. As time has passed, she has become more reflective and whilst she admits she would like a partner to share it with, she is not looking proactively, and although she says adopting is the hardest thing she has ever done, it is also the most wonderful.


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