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Nervous - but here goes. Adopting as a single parent?

(58 Posts)
approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 19:20:19

Hi smile

I am mid-thirties.

I have certainly always wanted to be a parent but am forced to admit time is running out a bit for me to meet someone and have biological children with them.

Adoption seems a logical step in some ways - you know people say "oh why don't you adopt?" I'm not "one of those" people! I do think I'd like to adopt, though. So, some questions:

1. As a single mum, I'd like to adopt a girl, or girls (I would adopt two siblings.) Would this be a problem? I just don't honestly feel as a woman on my own I could meet a boy's needs.

2. I am comfortable but pinched - I earn a modest salary and it's entirely enough for me but a stretch for a family. Enough for a wet weekend in Wales but not much else!

3. I own my home - it's three bed with a garden - but small. A terrace. I'm guessing this would be OK?

4. I have no family support. Also, I'd have to work full time - would this be a problem?

What does terrify me is having so many aspects of my life turned over and uncovered.

Any thoughts?

Bananaketchup Sat 22-Mar-14 21:21:22

I am a single adopter of two sibs, one of each. I'll answer what I can.

1. You can state your preference, and you'll probably be asked to explain your reasons. I always said 2 girls or one of each, I just couldn't see myself with 2 boys. When I unpacked that I realised it's because I have 2 younger brothers, and didn't want to replicate that dynamic! Whichever sex of child/ren, you will be expected to show how as a female single adopter you will give then positive male role models and influences in their life.

2. Your finances will be assessed, so you can ask any agency you approach what they would expect you to be earning. An agency would expect you not to have debts or be living beyond your means. Adoption allowances are paid sometimes for hard to place children, but budgets are tighter and tighter so it's possible but not a given at all.

3. Sound fine!

4. Re family support: could be trickier, especially if you want sibs. You will need to show you have a very strong support network. If you have no family support, who will help you out in an emergency - are your friends all at work all day, or have their own kids they can't leave to drop everything and help you? For example, me and both kids came down with norovirus, and I had to call my dad to come over and help me at 3am, as I was incapacitated with diarrhoea and retching (TMI!) and DS was vomiting and crying in his cot and I couldn't look after him, then DD joined in. Do you have someone you can call on, not only for major disasters like that but also for example if you've got to get one to school and the other's unwell in bed, or you need be in therapy sessions with one, who will take the other for 2 hours every week so you can do that? To give just 2 examples of where I've needed my family's help, that I hadn't thought of before the children were placed. Re working f/t: some people manage it, but what will your plan B be if your child/ren can't cope with all day childcare or after school clubs, or they need to be taken to therapy or physio or whatever, will your work be flexible? Also, having 2 adopted DCs is hard work emotionally and practically, can you fit in work as well (I'm still on adoption leave so haven't tried yet, but I intend to go back as part time as I can manage).

I'm not trying to be negative, reading back my post it seems a bit so which is not my intention. Before the children were placed I was very independent and never imagined I'd call on my family as much as I do, I have immense respect for singlies who do it without the amount of support I am lucky to have. So I'd say don't underestimate how much you will need support. In terms of having your life turned over, I didn't enjoy the assessment that much and never really clicked with my SW, but although I am a very private person I didn't find it too intrusive or difficult. If you feel like adoption might be right for you, you've nothing to lose by enquiring with some agencies and see how they respond. As crap as some parts of my adoption journey were (and they were), I'd do it all again tomorrow if I had to, to have my 2 grin, cos they're worth it to me. Anyway, hope you got through that epic answer, and it maybe helps a bit! Good luck.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 21:29:07

Thanks Banana, that's really helpful.

I assume by debts you mean debts that are unable to be paid - so a mortgage, car finance etc. would be fine?

No4 is trickier I know - and poor you with the virus, sounds horrific.

Unfortunately, I just don't know. I do have friends but whether they would definitely be able to help, I'm not sure. I suppose sadly I may have to put this aside: I really don't have anyone who would be an absolute without-a-doubt form of support. And I couldn't afford to work part time, although I do work school hours which helps.

Thanks again smile

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 21:40:21

Hi approaching40notmarried I will do my best to answer your questions but must say for your benefit I am mum to a birth child aged 9, approved and linked but not yet with our new little one placed.

Your questions....

1. As a single mum, I'd like to adopt a girl, or girls (I would adopt two siblings.) Would this be a problem? I just don't honestly feel as a woman on my own I could meet a boy's needs.

You can adopt as a single person and I have heard of single adopters saying they would like a girl and I have heard of single adopters adopting more than one child. I was very set on a girl but we are now adopting a boy, and I feel very, very happy about. I do have a DH but if anything happened to our relationship to DH I would still feel able to parent a boy well, but that is only really a feeling I have had since we agreed to the match, before this I was thinking of another girl! I am not trying to change your mind. I am just saying at least initially maybe be open. I am also aware if you are only approved to adopt a girl and then see a boy you would like to apply to adopt you may not be able to adopt them without a change of that plan (this may be wrong, maybe someone else can clarify! Apologies if I am wrong!)

2. I am comfortable but pinched - I earn a modest salary and it's entirely enough for me but a stretch for a family. Enough for a wet weekend in Wales but not much else!

The social workers will look into your finances before you are approved to adopt. If they do not think you have enough money I am not sure what they would do.

3. I own my home - it's three bed with a garden - but small. A terrace. I'm guessing this would be OK?

My understanding is that you need a room per child, if they are same sex siblings it might be different. So if you want to adopt two and have a three bed house that sounds great! smile

4. I have no family support. Also, I'd have to work full time - would this be a problem?

By family support do you mean from your extended family? We get little family support really, all our relatives live far away (bar one set of grandparents - who are very kind and look after our DD about 5 or 6 times a year when I am working in holiday but not over night and things may be different with our new son, at least at first).

Personally, I think you would need to build up some support locally from other people, ideally parents, people who you can turn to in a difficulty etc. This can seem hard when you don't yet have kids, once you have kids you end up with (or at least I have) a wide circle of very supportive friends. To some degree this does also require you to support them so it's a bit of give and take. If you have friends who have kids locally have you babysat for them and cared for their kids? That is good experience for your as a prospective adopter and also if they can do the same for you once your little one/ones come along (after they have really settled in) then they will become your support network.

When you say 'comfortable' are you allowing for a year of adoption leave? This is what is usually recommended. If you adopt a child who is pre-school age after the adoption leave comes to an end what will happen when you go back to work? The costs of child care are high. Our child will be school age so no nursery fees but working can still involved after school care costs if you work full time and holiday care costs and not all children adapt well to nursery or after school care. Just things to think about. I am not trying to put you off just thinking through the issues with you.

What does terrify me is having so many aspects of my life turned over and uncovered.

Do you mean there are things you do not wish to discuss etc, or do you just mean in general you don't like talking about yourself?

I did not find the process very difficult. The social worker asked about our childhoods, our schooling, work etc and lots more, but nothing was too onerous. They are not looking for a perfect person who has never had any problems, but just to see how you have resolved any issues and moved on.

It sounds like you have a lot to give and parenting can be very rewarding. I wish you all the very best on your journey.

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 21:44:04

I knew someone else would post before I got my mega post in! Well done, Bannanketchup!

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 21:44:14

Thanks smile

I earn just over £40,000 p/a, but this of course is working full time. I can (or could) afford to have a child in childcare and to have time off on adoption leave.

You know, my friends don't seem to want babysitters! I think most of them have siblings/parents who can help out. I work with children, though.

Sadly though I have no family support at all.

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 21:48:27

Bananketchp so sorry to here about the norovirus.

Hi again approaching40notmarried can I add with regard to the support that if you do not yet have that then it may be that that is something you need to find and build up?

Do not think this is an impossibility to do. We ahve been very lucky to have some amazing friends who we met when DD was a baby and also our church are wonderfully supportive.

Can I also just say that you will need to fully explore the issue of biological or genetic children needs to be explored by you because your social worker will ask about it and you need to be sure you are happy adopting.

I had extensive (and expensive) fertility treatment in my 40s, the first (IUI) produced our DD and subsequent treatment for IVF with donor eggs failed. I am just saying this as this is where I am coming from!

I think you need to decide what you really want, if you really want to meet someone and have a biological child with them I would put all your effort into this. (Which is what I did). I joined various dating agencies etc and put myself in places where I could meet suitable, eligible guys. I met him early 30s and married in mid to late 30s.

I had always wanted to adopt and I also wanted a biological child if possible. If you go down the route of adoption you will most likely not have a biological child. If this is fine by you then that is great and continue to search to see if adoption is right for you. If you feel you would still want to have a bio child I would (personally) put my energy into this.

'Adoption seems a logical step in some ways' in some ways it does but only if you have settled in your own mind that you do not want to pursue a bio baby.

'...people say "oh why don't you adopt?" ' are they people who know you and know about adoption or just people in general?

When you say "I'm not "one of those" people! " what does that mean?

I do not mean to put you off at all. Far from it. But adoption is a very big thing and won't leave room for other stuff so if you would like to meet someone or try for a bio child by using fertility treatment and donor sperm or donor embryo (which would not be a genetic child for you, of course, but would be biological I think - not sure of my terminology here!) then explore these options before you come to adoption,

All the best, keep posting and reading and asking. This is a great place to get advice.

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 21:50:10

Sorry first IUI was in my 30s (late 30s).

Bananaketchup Sat 22-Mar-14 21:54:53

They expect you to have a mortgage and normal outgoings, I don't know if they'd expect you to try and pay off car finance etc beforehand, I'm not sure.

Re support: don't write it off just yet. People can surprise you - after the night of norovirus horror here, I was talking to a friend and said 'I don't know what I'd have done if my dad and been on holiday or something, I'd have been screwed' and she said 'you could have called here, we'd have helped you'. Now this friend has no DC, in fact is vocal in her dislike of DC in general and all her friends' DCs in particular, she also lives a good 3/4 hour from me and can't drive. But she let me know that if it came down to it, if I'd called her that 3am she would have come. Of course it can go the other way, and people you think will be a big support turn out not to be. I suppose if I was thinking about it now I'd be looking at my circle and thinking about who has flexibility, e.g. do you know people who don't have small children they couldn't leave to help you out, or people who have some flexibility in their working schedules, or who could do some kind of quid pro quo with you, if they live close and have small DC who might be the same age as yours. Not who do I feel comfortable asking a favour of, but who do I know with a bit of wiggle room in their lives who I could shamelessly ask to put themselves out, if I had to! There are single adopters whose families are not close, and they manage. Same with work really - how flexible could your work be, can you think up a plan B if it was needed (and look for a match where your best guess is it won't be needed, though there are no guarantees) - could you do private tutoring, work compressed hours? Look into how child tax credits might help if you dropped your hours? Also I think any agency will expect you to take at least 6 months and more likely 12 months of adoption leave, so you have to factor that into the finances. I don't want to put you off at this stage - you have to be tenacious and maybe a bit creative to do this, but it absolutely can be done.

Bananaketchup Sat 22-Mar-14 21:57:00

x-post Italian great minds!

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 21:57:19

Sorry again, when I say .... adoption is a very big thing and won't leave room for other stuff I mean in the short run, you can't adopt then start having treatment for fertility (which I am sure you know) which is why the questions of whether or not you want to explore bio children needs to come first. This is the same whether you are married or single. We really wanted to adopt but I did want one more bio child. I really had to explore that and later I came to adoption having moved through that.

I am now 100% committed to adoption but I had to explore the whole bio thing first. If that makes sense. PM me if you want to know more, it is all very personal but these thoughts are not contrary to adoption, they need to be explored (by you) before you move into adoption, even if it is only to say, I explored that (read about it, thought about it etc) and now I can move on.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 21:58:09

Having a child is important to me. Having a child that is biologically mine is not important to me - hence, I suppose, why I asked on here.

I won't meet a man now - I am pretty sure of this - and so I suppose I hoped adopting a child might be a way to have a family. Never mind. Thanks for answering smile

jonicomelately Sat 22-Mar-14 22:02:57

I think that a lot of women assume they could only ever meet the needs of girls. Familiarity and all that. However, as the mother of two DS I'd say parenting boys is a fantastic experience.

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:04:27

Supportive people, are everywhere! It's getting to know them. Our new baby group (similar to NCT) formed a babysitting circle, toy library (briefly) and book group. Who knows you may find some wonderful people around you who would step forward.

Working academic year is a hug plus! I do not but am going to angle for it as I work part time in an organisation that does some of its work around the academic year. Having time off for school holidays etc has been the biggest hassle so if you have that sorted already that is a big plus.

Have you thought of the kind of age of child you would consider?

Have you read up about the kind f possible 'issues' children who have come through the care/looked after system may have?

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:08:33

Lordy, what is happening to my typing skills! huge plus not hug plus!

approaching40notmarried it's good that you have thought about that side of it. I do feel adoption is a wonderful thing, I would not be in it if I did not. So I totally agree that adopting a child is a way to a family. If you want to pursue this the best thing is to go to an open evening at your local County Council for adoption, or at a voluntary agency.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:09:38

Age wise - I would ideally (obviously I am speaking very much ideal world scenario) love a child aged between two and five. My absolute ideal would be two little girls aged about 4/5 and 2/3.

Yes, I have read up on the issues, although I recognise that reading is no substitute for experiencing.

Polkadotpatty Sat 22-Mar-14 22:14:56

I'm waiting to be matched, and encountered no real issues getting approved to adopt as a single person. I think others have sometimes found voluntary agencies to have a friendlier attitude to singles, but I went with my local authority and they've been great.

Re the support network - they do place a lot of weight on this, and you need to be able to talk about different types. So, I have some family about 90 mins away, who I counted as supporters because they committed to regular visits. But I identified other people who live locally who would be my 3a.m. emergency support. Social workers know that the reality is, post-adoption, your support might come from quite different people. But they like you to have a plan, and to show you've thought it through. And you don't need a hundred people, it's quality not quantity.

Re finances, I believe there is now a standard form people complete and money in and out, savings and debts. Mortgage is fine a long as monthly payments are affordable; car finance is probably the same.

Re biological children, expect this to be discussed. They will also talk about how you would handle things if you met a partner in the future. They may also ask your references about these things, which I found a bit uncomfortable when I found out later, but no-one seemed to mind.

Take your time while you take in all this info, and I hope you decide on the right thing for you. Good luck smile

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:17:56

approaching40notmarried I really hope you will pursue your dream, do not be put off by anything I have said, it is not my intention. If you want this, go for it.

There are a lot of children needing families. If you are aware of the issues etc then keep reading and exploring and maybe it may be right to join a few things locally to widen your social circle and see if this bring you into contact with people who may form your support network (e.g. helping at a kids club, Bronwies, Rainbows etc - which often happen in the evening so more do-able for people working). I can't guarantee it will happen but people who are giving their free time to support local initiatives etc may end up being supportive people. I am not saying you would leave your child/ren with people you hardly know, but they might be people who could get in shopping or food or cook dinner for you if you were ill etc, all things that might be needed. Once you know the age of the child/ren you will parent you will find it easier, hopefully, I have found those local parents whose kids are my DD's peers to be the most supportive of all!

I really wish you all the best.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:17:59

Thanks, Polka.

It's difficult. I have friends but not family which I imagine won't be a point in my favour. Unfortunately, I can't do much about that!

Yes, it's your penultimate paragraph I suppose I find most daunting and uncomfortable.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:21:47

Thanks, Italian.

The problem with not having children and knocking about at activities that are aimed at children is that you end up looking mad as a box of frogs!

I imagine if I was ill, which thankfully is extremely rare, I would have people who would help in terms of shopping, school runs etc. If I had to spend time in hospital which has happened once, then that is far trickier. confused

It is difficult as some of the reasons which may drive people to adopt, I suppose, mean in themselves they may not be an ideal adopter.

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:23:42

The thing is approaching40notmarried family are great when they are supportive but it could go the other way, some people have quite elderly parents who are not able to help and may actually need help, so personally I would focus on your existing friends and see how supportive they are and not worry too much about what you can't change. Do your close friends know you are considering this? Talking about it (when appropriate) may help you to suss out who would help.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:26:43

No, I think I'd want to really set wheels in motion before discussing it with anybody!

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:28:34

I think helping locally is one thing that you can do whether you have kids or not. If you are going through the approval process I would tell the Rainbows (age 5 kids up so relevant to you maybe!) or Brownie pack leader this is what you are doing etc. It is a way of getting experienced with kids, which is also useful if you are hoping to adopt (and may even be requested by social worker, that you get extra experience - that is true for many prospective adopters even those with children already).

If you already have good friends locally I would not worry about joining things to build up your personal support network. I do stuff more to get experience with kids. However, any experience with people can be helpful, one friend helped at a club for adults with learning difficulties and this went in their favour too.

Ask me if this does not make sense?

What does "It is difficult as some of the reasons which may drive people to adopt, I suppose, mean in themselves they may not be an ideal adopter." mean?

Italiangreyhound Sat 22-Mar-14 22:30:21

"No, I think I'd want to really set wheels in motion before discussing it with anybody!" No, quite right, point taken. I do think I talked to people about it before we formally applied but then I am quite an open person and had been thinking and talking about adoption for years, which is not a requirement but is just how I am! grin

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:30:43

I mean that I am adopting because I am single, and therefore cannot have children biologically smile but of course being single brings with it other problems: limited finances and limited support, meaning that this may impact on the likelihood of being adopted.

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