Should I, as an unmarried adult, be thinking seriously about adopting a child? How does your ministry feel about single-parent adoption? I'm a single adult who is deeply concerned about the plight of orphans in this country and around the world, and I'd like to do my part by adopting a child who needs a home.
You're to be commended on your desire to welcome a needy child into your home. The need for more adoptive parents is huge. At present there are more than 100,000 children waiting to be adopted in the United States and over 150 million orphans around the globe. Most of them are older kids who have spent years in foster care. Some have learning disabilities and other challenges. Many of them will outgrow the foster care system without ever having had a mother or a father. Through our Adoption and Orphan Care Initiative™, we are doing everything we can to make the Church aware of this crisis and to stimulate God's people to take an active role in meeting the need.
Given the urgency of the situation, it's only reasonable that we should encourage you to explore the option of adopting, regardless of your marital status. In a general sense, that's exactly what we want to do. We applaud you on your selfless attitude, and we want you to know that, if you decide to move forward with your plans to adopt, we stand ready to support you in any way we can.
That being said, Focus on the Family remains committed to the proposition that the two-parent home – founded on a loving marriage relationship between one man and one woman – is the optimum environment for every child. Moms and dads are innately different, and each is necessary. This is God's design for the family, and we are convinced that it represents the best arrangement for all concerned. To negate the importance of this long-standing family structure in the raising of children is to experiment with the very core of society, something that we do at our peril. Not only is this truth established in Scripture, but the evidence is clear in the many studies that demonstrate that children do best in all measurable ways when they are in stable homes with a mother and a father.
That's why, as most single moms and dads would be the first to say, single-parenting is a stiff challenge even under the most favorable circumstances. In light of this, we would counsel anyone who is considering this option to proceed prayerfully and with great care. Single women need to be aware that it isn't easy to raise kids – especially boys – without a man in the home. Academic research has demonstrated the indispensable nature of a father's protective influence. It's an influence that a woman can't supply on her own, and it contributes to virtually every measure of domestic well-being. Unmarried females who are considering adoption would be will want to give this aspect of the situation some serious thought before moving ahead. In this regard, we would recommend reading Chapter 10 of Bringing Up Boys, "Single Parents and Grandparents," authored by Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family.
Of course, on the flip side, single men must consider how they will compensate for a lack of the "nurturing" aspects that a mother brings to the home and parenting. Mothers are more likely to focus on providing emotional comfort and security, as well as stimulating the development of relational skills. They often are more sympathetic to a child's concerns and can provide the gentle encouragement needed to fortify youngsters against the challenges of their world. Both gender roles are of immeasurable significance, and an individual must consider how to address these concerns in a creative and intentional way as he or she evaluates whether to become a single parent.
We also feel that it's important to make a careful assessment of your resources. Are you financially capable of providing for a child's material needs? Will you have the support of friends and extended family? Have you thought about education and spiritual training? Are your current living quarters large enough to accommodate another person? Here at Focus on the Family we have a staff of counselors available who would be happy to talk with you about these issues and any other concerns you may have. We'd like to invite you to call one of them at your convenience. Each is a committed Christian and a licensed family therapist. You may call at this number.
For further insight into this subject, we recommend that you procure a copy of Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family: Real-Life Solutions to Common Challenges by David Sanford. You can order this book via our Online Store or by calling us here at Focus on the Family.
Fostering or Adopting Children from Difficult Backgrounds (resource list)