Single Parents and International Adoption - An Overview

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by Lyn Mogren

Adoption is possible for singles, though the options are far fewer than for couples. Singles must be prepared to be more patient, flexible, tolerant, and resourceful. Thankfully, these are all qualities necessary in parenting and regularly tested throughout the process. The aim of this article is to impart information useful for singles seeking to adopt internationally. It lists important considerations and questions to ask.

Age and income are major factors in single parent international adoption. Most countries stipulate the ages of parents that they will accept often stating how many years between parent and child. After forty five, the options narrow considerably. Sometimes there is flexibility if the adoptive parent is willing to take a sibling group or a child with significant special needs.

With only one income, cost is an important factor: As well as the fees to the adoption agency and other associated costs, you also need to consider how long you can take off work to travel, and how many trips to your child's country it will take to complete the adoption - sometimes two trips are required.

There are three important questions to ask yourself.

1. How able am I to accept ambiguity?

The adoption process is often described as an emotional roller-coaster. This is partly because there are often times when you don’t know what is going on both on the Canadian end of things and in the country you hope to adopt a child from. Countries sometimes change their laws and rules around adoption suddenly. It is not unusual for a country to close to adoption because of allegations of bad practices.

Also be aware that whilst countries may say they accept single applicants they really prefer couples so singles may wait much longer, or be asked to accept a child with more special needs. In Kazakstan, adoption laws vary from region to region. There are, however, a few factors that may play a part in making the placement easier.

  • Having the heritage of that country or culture.
  • Experience residing in the country or doing business there regularly
  • Having the ability to make large donations to the orphanage
  • Having the same religion as the country’s main religion or being a member of the same religious group as the one an orphanage is run by.

2. Would I be capable of parenting a child with special needs?

Do your research here. Find out what the special needs are. Read about them. Talk to those who parent children with them. Talk to your doctor. Are any of your friends professionals that may have information for you? Check out “In your Grasp”. This question will be addressed more than once in the home-study.

3. Am I ready and willing to accept the challenges of parenting transracially?

Most singles who adopt are Caucasian. Most adopted children are not. Again, do research. Taking AFABC’s course on Transracial parenting can help you become more aware of the realities of parenting.

If you are still game to continue with this amazing journey read on:

  • In BC, you must register with an licensed agency. A facilitator is needed for some countries because they require licensing by the country of the child’s origin. The extra cost of the facilitator varies. Sometimes a facilitator is just that...someone who makes the process easier because they know the system, the right people, and the language. Many agencies do not wish to apply for the license and work with other organizations who already have it or the “connections “ in place.

  • The countries most often used by singles in BC, recently, are Russia, Kazakstan, Haiti, the U.S. and China. Singles wishing to adopt from China will need to call each agency to see if they have a “spot” for you due to the quota system China requires. . . Only one single per agency per year. Some agencies have wait lists for which there may be a fee.

  • Take a look at the information provided about each country. Make sure to verify this information with the agencies and facilitator.

  • Use caution when looking for country information on the internet. Much of it is from the U.S. which has different immigration policies and different political relations. Even though Canadians and Americans are adopting from the same country, they may be treated differently by courts, orphanage directors, facilitators or hoteliers.

  • AFABC has a list of adoptive parents who have agreed to be “resource” parents. Talking to one or more of these parents will give you the advantage of talking to someone from BC who has gone through the process. Be respectful of their time. Make an appointment with them at a time that is convenient for them and have a list of questions ready. Stick to your agreed length of appointment.