Tracking the Issue
Single Parent Adoption
Single parent adoption is as much a local issue as it is a national or global issue. Adoption Minnesota is a Minneapolis-based adoption agency which touts being a welcoming agency. "There are no rules requiring you to be of a certain age, religion or race, nor do we eliminate adoptive parents based on weight, marital status, number of children already in your home or physical disability," the web site says. Though there are no rules, it is pretty clear that the site is aimed at white, middle-class folks, whether it is the birth mother or the prospective parents. This is saddening because the people willing to adopt- whether single or as a couple- may not fit this cookie-cutter image. What is more, is that the entirety of the staff appears white and middle-class. Private adoption agencies, such as this one, have the luxury of tailoring their services to a particular group of people. This perpetuates traditional conceptions of what the ideal family is, regardless of contemporary standards or changes. This creates one more hurdle for single parents, hopeful parents of color or disability- the hurdle to overcome preference. Minneapolis is a wonderfully diverse metropolitan area, and the impact that an adoption agency that caters to white, middle-class can deter potential parents from adopting. Not to say that there are not avenues- such as state agencies- to adopt as a single parent. However, the process is long, emotional and expensive. According to the Department of Human Services, adoptive parents may pay for fees for agency serves, certain birth parent expenses, legal fees and court costs related to adoption, fees to U.S. citizenship and immigration services, fees to people or agencies related to international adoption, and travel costs. Depending on the type of adoption a parent is trying to arrange, the parent(s) may be obligated to pay for medical costs for the birth mother as well. The expense of child rearing and the adoption process can be costly, which is a drawback of adopting as a single parent. However, as the "Single Parent Adoptive Homes" study (in a related post for Tracking the Issue) explains, the parent usually finds a way to work things out where finances are not a grave concern. After searching for more adoption agencies and delving further into the topic, many testimonies read that the mother or father, or both as a couple, find a way to work finances out. Even with half or less than half the income of a couple, single parents who adopt manage.
When reading about adoption and the rights of the birth mother, it was apparent that the father plays a limited role. I was curious to know what rights he has and so I explored the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry. Based in St. Paul, the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry is a valuable resource for paternal fathers whose child is or may be involved in adoption proceedings. The registry is free and is primarily utilized by courts so they can find the father to participate in adoption proceedings. A father can register as a putative father (recognized father) within 30 days of the child's birth. This is important to do if the father thinks he may want to contest adoption. When discussing single parent adoption, so much attention is placed primarily on the mother or father about to receive the child, secondly the birth mother giving up the child, and rarely is a substantial amount of attention paid to the birth father. In any adoption, single parent or otherwise, considerations should be made for all parties involved. It is acknowledged that in some occurrences the mother does not wish for the father to be involved, and safeguards are established within the state to prevent the father from finding information about the mother when he establishes paternity.
Understanding not only the values placed on the families in the adoption process but the legal issues as well is imperative to taking a critical look at the roles each member of the situation plays.