Single Parent Adoption: – Where Is it Possible and How Does it Work?

By Babygest Staff
Last Update: 03/22/2019

Single parent adoption consists of the adoption of a minor by an unmarried person, either male or female.

This family model is accepted in the United States in order to adopt, and also in other countries such as Vietnam, India or Colombia.

However, there are also other countries that allow international single-parent adoption, but only for single women.

How do you become a single mother or father?

Nowadays, it is easier for single women to become mothers than single men, as they only need an assisted reproduction treatment with semen donation for this.

On the other hand, men who want to become fathers without the intervention of a woman only have these two options:

this is the only way single parents have to have a biological child.
national or international.

There is also another option for single parents by choice that is becoming very fashionable: co-parenting. It's about having a child in common without the parents being a couple or having a loving bond between them.

Requirement to adopt being single

In general, any single adult or a married couple (US citizen) can be eligible to adopt. However, it depends on every States' laws.

Age eligibility

Concerning age eligibility, every States has its criteria:

  • In approximately seven States (Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington) and Puerto Rico, prospective parents must be age 18 to be eligible to adopt.
  • Three States (Colorado, Delaware, and Oklahoma) and American Samoa set the age at 21.
  • Georgia and Idaho specify age 25.

Residency eligibility

  • Approximately 17 States (Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming), Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands require that petitioners for adoption be State residents. The required period of residency ranges from 60 days to 1 year. There are exceptions to the residency requirement in some of these States. For example, in Indiana and South Carolina, a nonresident can adopt a child with special needs.
  • In Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, a nonresident may adopt through an agency.
  • On the other hand, it should be mentioned that each State may have specific requirements to allow national adoption, as well as countries that allow international adoption for single persons.

    In general, single people may have to face a longer waiting list to adopt than heterosexual couples.

    Where can a single person adopt?

    As we have already said, single people who want to be parents by choice can start an adoption process both in the United States and in a foreign country.

    Single parent adoption in the United States

    First, a single person have to choose the type of adoption he/she wants:

    Foster Care
    at the beginning, when children are in Foster Care, the main goal is that they return to their biological families. But if it is not possible, they will be adoptable. In 2011, 30% of the children adopted from foster care were adopted by single people according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
    Private Domestic Adoption
    it may be through an agency or an attorney. It is the least common way to become adoptive parents.

    After choosing, it is necessary to go through the same process than a couple:

    Home study
    necessary to ensure that you are fit to become parent. It consist in providing criminal background checks, financial & medical informations, going through interviews and allowing home inspections.
    Waiting for an adoption opportunity
    once completed the home study comes the moment to wait for an adoption opportunity.
    Bring the child home
    depending on the circonstances of adoption, the prospective parents will have to wait until Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperworks clear (between 8 to 14 days) in the case of an interstate adoption, ask for Petition to Adopt...
    Post-adoption supervisory report
    it usually lasts between 1 and 18 months depending on legal state and permit a review of the adoption in general.
    Final Court Hearing
    legally completes the adoption process.

    If you need more details about domestic adoption, you can find them in this post: Domestic Adoption in U.S: – What Are the Requirements & Process.

    Single parent adoption abroad

    Intercountry single parent adoption is a little more complicated, as each country sets its own criteria for this family model.

    These are some of the particularities that can be found by a single person who decides to adopt abroad:

    • Most countries accept single-parent adoption for women, but not for men.
    • Some countries only permit the adoption of children of the same sex as the adopter.
    • Some countries require declarations of heterosexuality in order to adopt alone.
    • Some countries only allow single-parent families to adopt children over the age of 6 or even 10, or children with a special needs.

    Below, we will name the countries that currently accept single parent adoption and what their conditions are:

    accept women and men, but prioritize marriages.
    only single women over the age of 30 can be adopted, and currently adoptable children with special needs.
    accept women and men, but prioritize marriages and adoptable minors are older than 5 years. In addition, unmarried men may only adopt boys.
    only single women can adopt and adoptable children are over 10 years of age.
    Both men and women can adopt, but they prioritize marriages and it is only possible to adopt children with special characteristics and needs.
    only single women over the age of 27 can adopt, but they prioritise marriages and adoptable minors are over the age of 6 and have special characteristics.
    both men and women can adopt children over the age of 3.
    only accept women, but prioritize couples and adoptable minors are older than 9 years.
    Costa Rica, Peru, Czech Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, etc.

    To find out about the procedures and other important information on this subject, we recommend that you read on here: International Adoption in the U.S. – How Does It Works?

    FAQs from users

    Is single parent adoption allowed in Russia?

    By Zaira Salvador (embryologist).

    No. Currently, only heterosexual and married couples can adopt in Russia.

    You can find this information in the following post: International Adoption in the U.S. – How Does It Works?

    I am single, can I adopt in China?

    By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

    If you are a female, yes. Chinese laws allow single parent adoption by female.
    However, if you are a male, it is still prohibited.

    Suggested for you

    Although we have not mentioned it, in the United States, single men and women can also welcome a minor to give him a better life. If you want to know what this procedure consists of, don't miss the next post: Foster Caring.

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Adoption Laws State by State: [here]

About Intercountry Adoption on the website of US Department - Bureau of Consular Affairs

Statistics for Adoption and Foster Care from the US Department of Health and Human Services: [here]

About Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) from Child Welfare Information Gateway (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

Adoption Guide by Adoptive Families: [here]

About adoption requirement and process on the Child Welfare Information Gateway: [here]

Adoption Options: Where Do I Start? by Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption? by Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Guide single parent adoption by Child Welfare Information Gateway.

FAQs from users: 'Is single parent adoption allowed in Russia?' and 'I am single, can I adopt in China?'.

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