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Single Parent Adoptions Increasing

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  • Single Parent Adoptions Increasing

    Single Parent Adoptions Increasing

    Dec. 17, 2004

    "The thing that makes a family is love. And that we have. We love each other
    and that makes a family."
    Adoptive father Ken Regan

    Adopting On Your Own

    (CBS) It used to be that when a man or woman reached a certain age and they
    weren't married, they accepted that they wouldn't have children.

    But, says correspondent Melinda Murphy in this second part of The Early Show
    series, "Exploring Adoption," that's changing. Today, more and more singles are
    adopting by themselves -- and not just women.

    Murphy got the inside story from a number of single adoptive parents, including
    Ken Regan, a principal for 25 years who had worked with children for most of
    his life, but had never had one of his own.

    "I decided that it's time to focus in and have one on my own. To have a child
    and be a full part of a child's life, not just the school hours of nine and
    four. I wanted to be part of a child. And I wanted a child to be part of me."

    So, Ken adopted, by himself. And now, at the end of each workday, he leaves his
    school and goes to another -- to meet his son, Michael.

    What was the turning point that led Ken, in his 50s, to adopt? "I guess, I
    don't want to say it was the clock, but I was looking at everybody else and
    saying, 'They have.' And I was career oriented and then moving ahead. And I
    just said "I'm ready." I wanted this challenge."

    And, notes Murphy, being a single parent certainly has its challenges.

    "We'll be in a store and he'd run up the escalator. And the person at the top
    of the escalator would say, 'Where is your mother?' And he goes, 'I don't have
    one.' That kind of thing."

    Ken adopted Michael from china three years ago, becoming part of a growing
    trend in which more and more singles seek to become parents through
    international adoption.

    "Certainly, it's changed a lot from the early 80s, when only two countries were
    allowing single people to adopt," says Lee Varon, who adopted her son, Jose,
    from El Salvador twenty years ago. A decade later, she adopted daughter, Julia,
    from Russia. Her parenting experiences and background as a family counselor led
    Varon to write "Adopting on Your Own."

    "It's not just like adding another activity onto your busy schedule. It changes
    your relationships with your friends, with your family, with how you interact
    with your community."

    And Varon stresses that close relationships with friends and family are the
    keys to successfully adopting as a single.

    "With couples, they do have that built-in other adult to sort of negotiate
    things with, talk things over with. Single people really need to create that
    for themselves."

    "Having a support network was the most crucial thing for me. You can't do it 24
    hours," reflects Michelle Savage who, at 42, adopted daughter Maddie from
    Russia last year.

    Savage developed a support group back home, which included friends who have
    also recently adopted.

    But, while friendships are important, they're not the same as having a
    two-parent family.

    Asked by Murphy is she ever feels guilty that Maddie doesn't have a father,
    Savage replied, "I wouldn't say I feel guilty, because it's not my fault. But I
    think it will get more difficult as she gets older, the fact that she doesn't
    have a father. …I would love to get married and have a father for Maddie, and
    I've dated since the adoption, so I don't think it's impossible."

    Even if Savage doesn't get married, she believes raising Maddie as a single
    parent beats Maddie being left alone in a Russian orphanage, and that both of
    their lives have improved since they met. "She's so much fun to come home to,"
    Savage says. "And you know, she makes my life so different and exciting."

    Regan can relate. "The thing that makes a family is love," he observes. "And
    that we have. We love each other and that makes a family."

    And families with single adoptive parents are proving to be successful.

    The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute studies adoption issues, and finds
    that children adopted from foster care are often better off with a single
    parent, because of the focused nurturing some of these children really need.

    Murphy says the most important consideration for single people considering
    adopting to keep in mind is to do the emotional work. They need to have already
    gone through a grieving period, if you will, of realizing they are not going to
    have a child in the traditional way. And then they need to make sure they're
    adopting the child because they want to be a parent, and not to fill an empty
    hole in their lives.

    As for finances, since there won't be anybody else to lean on, it's important
    for a single parent to not only be financially secure, but to have a
    child-friendly work environment. For example, does your employer offer flextime
    and make allowances when issues with child care come up? Because they always

    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail . . . but, a true friend will
    be sitting next to you saying, "**** . . . that was fun!"
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