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EVOLVE – Single Parenting

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Being a single parent wasn’t something that was always socially acceptable. Adopting and fostering a child as a single parent is something that is newly becoming more accepted in the United States in recent years. Every state in the country currently allows single adults to adopt and foster children. However, each state has their own regulations. In addition to the guidelines of each state, every agency has different guidelines as well (Children’s Bureau, 2013).

To my surprise, single adults have always been legally eligible to adopt or foster since the mid 1900’s (Herman, 2012). However, even though they were legally eligible to do so, it was not yet widely accepted at this time. It wasn’t until about 1965 when real efforts were made for single parents to adopt and foster children. Single parents were looked at as less desirable than those of married couples. Even after this was put in place, having two parents in the home was still looked at as preferable, however, it was said that “one parent is still better than none.” (Herman, 2012).

Now in 2019, it is almost more common to see single parent families than families that consist of two parents (Single parenting, 2019). In 2011, about one-third of all adoptions from foster care were completed by unmarried adults (Children’s Bureau, 2013). On a national level, about one fourth of children are being raised in single parent households. That’s about 22 million children that are growing up and being raised by a single parent. Research shows that outcomes for children who are raised in a single parent household are just as good as those who grow up in two parent households (Children’s Bureau, 2013). According to Kellie, a foster mom, over the years the stigma of parenting alone has changed a lot. Single parenting has become much more normalized.

There is a lot that goes into getting ready for a child to come into the home. How do you prepare for parenting a child by yourself? For example, you should always establish a support system. Every parent needs a support system, no matter the number of parents in the home. You may be a single parent, but you don’t want to be raising your child completely alone. Family and friends, as well as other single parents, are a great example of people to have in your support system (Children’s Bureau, 2013).

For parents who don’t feel as if they have family or friends in their support system, there are other options. There are groups that single parents can become a part of to allow single parents to meet other single parents and form a support system that way (Children’s Bureau, 2013). In addition to that, when fostering a child, you can always rely on the child’s social worker for assistance. According to Kellie, the social workers and case workers that work with you and the child when you are fostering are some of the most important allies for yourself while parenting.

As single parent, you don’t have the benefit of having a partner to help when things are tough or when emotions are running high. According to Kellie, it can be a struggle some days because when you have a partner, you have another set of hands to help you out. However, when parenting alone, you are doing it all by yourself and you can only be in one place at a time. Until you get the hang of that, it can be a struggle. That is why it is important to have a strong support system. When you are in need of another set of hands, the help is there. Never be ashamed to ask for some help. Kellie says, “You are brave, independent and strong. You can be all of these things and still ask for help”.

Another important factor to think about when considering raising a child alone is finances. Any first-time parent needs to think, can I comfortably take care of this child as well as myself? According to the Children’s Bureau (2013), for a child between the ages of 0-18, it costs about $10,000-$12,000 per year to raise that child. This is something very important to consider when deciding to parent a child. “You don’t have to be rich and do fancy things, but it takes more than love” (Children’s Bureau, 2013). When it comes to fostering, parents are given some compensation to care of these children. However, according to Kellie, a lot of the time you are spending money of your own to help these children thrive in their new home. This is why it is so important to have your finances in order when thinking about parenting.

In addition to that, there are also many services that are provided to children when they are in the foster system. For example, children who are in foster care can get help with medical needs and therapy, as well as some after school activities. Kellie states that it is a great idea to use all the services that are provided so that the child can get as much help as they can. If the resources are available and they will benefit the child, they should be used to their advantage.

Parenting is a lot of work. There are many things to prepare for when becoming a parent, no matter the number of parents in the home. Having a support system and getting your finances together are two very important things to do. On top of that, it is always important to take some time for yourself. Even taking just an hour or two for yourself out of the week can help a lot to refresh yourself. The United States has come a long way for accepting single parents over the years. Many individuals do decide to parent children alone. The number of adults who decide to parent alone have been increasing over the years. The important thing is that the child is going to be with someone who loves them and keep them safe.

Author, Samantha Potocnik
Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at University of Wisconsin River Falls.

References

Children’s Bureau. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Adopting as a single parent. (Factsheet for families). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/single_parent.pdf

Herman, E. (2012). Single Parent Adoptions. The Adoption History Project. https://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/topics/singleparentadoptions.htm.

Keels, M. (2014). Choosing Single Motherhood. Contexts, 13(2), 70-72. https://doi.org/10.1177/1536504214533504

Siegel, Judith M. (1998). Pathways to single motherhood: Sexual intercourse, adoption, and donor insemination. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 79(1), 75-82. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.1795

Single parenting and today’s family Single parenting and today’s family Single parenting and today’s family. American Psychological Association. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/single-parent.

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