Your Choice Entry: Single Father Adoption


As I began to track the issue of single parent adoption, I soon found that while it is legal in every state of this country for a single parent to adopt a child, internationally or domestically, it is ultimately up to the adoption agency to decide who qualifies to even be considered to adopt from their agency. I found several questions posted on forum communities by single males who want to adopt a child but have been turned away from adoption agencies from the start. I also came to discover that many adoption agencies would consider single fathers for foster programs that can eventually turn into adoption, or the adoption of older children but not infants or even toddlers.
I decided to do a bit of digging myself. I found a website with a list of domestic adoption agencies and randomly selected some agencies and requested additional information on their contact form. I wrote to several adoption agenceis:
Hi, my name is Alyssa Smith. I am looking into single parent adoptions and I
am wondering if your agency participates in single parent adoptions,
particularly single father adoption. If so I would also like to know if there
are any regulations on this type of adoption, such as the age of the child,
domestic vs. international adoptions, or if a single must begin the adoption
process through a foster program.
Thank You
Within a few hours of sending this message to numerous adoption agencies I received several interesting replies:

"Hello Alyssa-
My name is Brenda Compton and I am the Senior Adoption Consultant for International Family Services. I was told of your interest in adoption and I would be thrilled to email you a great deal of information about our program options and to answer any questions you might have. Before I do so though, I did need to verify that you were asking about you adopting as a single mother, correct? In your request you asked if we can work with single men's adoptions, but unfortunately we do not have any programs in place at this time that are open to this. If you are interested for yourself, as a single woman, please let me know and I will send information on to you about programs you would qualify for. And if you are asking for a single male friend or relative, while IFS could not help him with an adoption, I would be happy to email you some other options he might want to check into, in case any of them would work for him."

"hello Alyssa. I'm sorry that single fathers seem to be the ONE segment of
the population who cannot adopt internationally. no country will allow it
as far as I know. Sorry."

"Love Basket does not accept singles at this time. In the past we have
worked with single women however we found that the wait time was very
long and they were incurring more fees as they updated paperwork
throughout the process. I'm sorry that we can not be of further
assistance to you but do wish you well in your search for an agency."

"Our agency 's adoption services are currently focused upon infant adoptions.
In such cases, the surrendering birthparent is coming to us seeking a two
parent home for her child.
As a single parent, your best opportunity may be in adopting a child through
the foster care system. In doing so, I would recommend you check with the TN
Dept. of Children's Services in your area."

There were also adoption agencies that sent auto-responses, so they detailed their process to begin an adoption but did not specifically answer my questions. There were also a response that explained what their company does is interview anyone looking to adopt and place them with an adoption agency which fits their specific needs, but does not participate in the adoptions themselves. I thought a process like this could be very useful under the current adoption system in which agencies can choose right off the bat who they are willing to work with. However, I do see flaws in the current system that should be looked into.
When it is legal for a single parent to adopt a child, do you think it is ethical for an adoption agency to refuse its services with no further investigation as to how fit to parent this individual may be? What if a different type of company was refusing its services to a particular group of people, like a store clerk who will not sell certain items to certain races of people? Why is it unacceptable to companies to refuse service to groups of people, but when it comes to adoption single males are often not even given the opportunity to begin the adoption process with a home evaluation? Is this practice in the best interest of the children being given up for adoption as well as the birth parents, or is it discrimination?

Sammy, Kathryn, Alyssa


  1. The issue you raised that I found most disturbing was not discrimination against single men, but the distinction made between younger adoptees and foster children. It is unfortunate, but statistically it is a reality that the majority of sexual predators are male. This does not mean that most single men looking to adopt are sexual predators, but it is a higher risk, and a danger much harder to detect. There are other cultural factors that play in to a single man's ability to raise a child on his own just from the process of socialization. His innate ability is probably not any different, but life experience in our culture would certainly give the average man barriers. So, if all of that is true, and placing a child in the home of a single man is more of a risk, then placing an older foster child in the home of a single man is a way of valuing a foster child less than an adopted child.

  2. I like that you emailed all these adoption agencies! It's really fascinating primary research. This is totally shocking to me. I can't believe an entire segment of the population is being discriminated against. There are plenty of loving single fathers, who are totally emotionally ready to raise a child. While I understand the risks of a sex offender attempting to adopt a child, normal adoption procedures (for men or for women) are extremely stringent. They are designed to root out people who would be bad parents, and I think applying this same type of scrutiny to everyone who applies, including single men, would solve most of the problems involved.

    I think this goes back to two issues in the class -
    1. Gender norms. The implicit assumption here is that women are natural mothers, and someone who is raised without a mother in the house will be raised incorrectly. The subtext seems to be that women are the safeguard between a man and a child, and that men are too dangerous to raise a child alone. This is demeaning to both men and women.

    2. What is a 'normal' family? All of these adoption agencies seem heavily tilted towards a family that upholds the norms of a traditional, nuclear family. They prioritize two parent families, and then single mothers, and last of all single fathers. The idea of the nuclear family has a deep cultural root in our family, but I definitely believe that we should start deconstructing it. There seems to be very little proof to indicate that this type of family is any more stable (see: divorce rates) than any other type.

    The people our society deems fit as "parents" says a lot about our beliefs in family. There are thousands of baby girls in China who are given up for adoption, or even killed - why can't single men help give some of them homes? Having a father but not a mother is certainly better than floating around in the foster system for years on end.

  3. This was such an interesting way of investigating this topic Alyssa! I am so surprised at how open and ultimate the adoption agencies are with their policies of disallowing single parent adoption. Not only is this highlighting discrimination against men, but also the concept of ‘family values’. The understanding that a mother and father family structure is the healthiest way to raise a child is narrow thinking. This idea is perpetuated throughout America, but it has been shown time and time again that children can be raised to become healthy adults in ‘alternative’ family structures. It’s a shame these agencies will ride off certain groups of people so immediately, when the real question should be about the individual’s character and ability to support a child. I think these understandings of the ‘ideal family’ constructed by our society are inaccurate, and cause injustice.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Alyssa published on April 30, 2010 3:10 PM.

Prostitution-Local Impact was the previous entry in this blog.

Raunch Culture - Local is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en