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How Can a Single Woman Adopt a Child?

author image Beverly Bird
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.
How Can a Single Woman Adopt a Child?
woman holding adopted child

According to, an extensive resource network for those interested in adoption, a growing trend toward single parent adoptions has emerged since 1990. Roughly 5 percent of adoptable children in the United States now find homes with single parents. Unmarried women may still experience some prejudice, but that is easing up year by year. You can be successful if you’re prepared and consider all your options.

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Step 1

woman researching on computer
woman researching on computer

Read as much as you can about adoption because knowledge of the adoption process can work to your advantage. Being armed with information will not only help you make a good impression on agency personnel, but it will be a comfort to you when you encounter inevitable obstacles, because you’ll understand and expect them, says Lois Gilman wrote "The Adoption Resource Book" and it's packed with useful and detailed adoption information. "How to Adopt Internationally: A Guide for Agency-Directed and Independent Adoption," by Jean Nelson Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen can also be helpful for singles who are interested in adopting internationally.

Step 2

woman writing down answers
woman writing down answers

Prepare answers to the many logical questions you’ll be asked because you’re doing this on your own. How are you going to raise a child on one income? You may not be married now, but how are you going to handle it if you meet that special someone later and he doesn’t want kids? Why haven’t you married yet, and why do you want a child? warns that the screening process for single women is much more rigorous than for couples.

Step 3

woman holding adopted child's hand
woman holding adopted child's hand

Consider the many children available to you. Are you able to love a child of a different race or culture, an older child or a child with emotional or physical problems? While barriers against single women are falling, the legal website Nolo warns that many agencies will still hold back healthy infants for “whole” families and move single women to the end of their waiting list.

You may be more successful if you open yourself to the possibility of an older, abandoned child who needs a loving parent. According to, there are over half a million children in the United States foster care system who need homes.

Step 4

woman researching and calling an adoption agency
woman researching and calling an adoption agency

Approach agencies and figure out the best adoption method for you. Do you feel more comfortable going with a public or private agency? Does a private adoption better suit you? Keep in mind that if you opt for a private adoption, the birth mother generally chooses who she is going to give her infant to. She may not be comfortable placing her child into a single parent household. Many mothers choose adoption because they want their children to have the family environment that they can’t offer.

Step 5

woman on plane with adopted child
woman on plane with adopted child

Consider going outside the country for a child. Being single can be much less of an impediment, and a wider range of children are available to choose from, according to The criteria a potential parent must meet are set by the other country, and in many cases, they are less stringent. But international adoptions tend to be very expensive and much more time-consuming. Foreign countries that will consider single parents for adoption include Peru, Brazil, Honduras, Bolivia and El Salvador.

Step 6

woman holding adopted child
woman holding adopted child

Begin the adoption process. This will be much the same whether you’re single or married, but plan on an intensive home study. If you choose to adopt a foster child, there will be some additional steps with visitation and a trial time of living together so you can get to know each other. But eventually, you’ll appear in court and the adoption will be finalized.

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