Can a single parent adopt a newborn without going through the foster care system? Yes. Domestic adoption of infants is usually open or semi-open. In these adoptions, the birthmother chooses the family she would like to parent her child (from parents who have completed a homestudy). Some birthmothers do want a two-parent family for their child, so single parents may wait longer to be chosen. However, some birthmothers have been very open to single parents.
In these cases the birthparents and adoptive parent negotiate how much openness they are comfortable with. The birthparent and adoptive parent often meet before the child’s birth. They may exchange names and contact information or they may share only first names and correspond through the agency. They may agree on periodic letters and photos of the child, or they may agree to a yearly visit on the child’s birthday, or they may even have regular visits and share holidays.
Decide ahead of time what you are comfortable with. Be open to stretching your comfort level, but give yourself time to think about any new requests. Remember it is easier to increase contact than to limit it later. However, many adoptive parents often find that the birthparent wants lots of contact to reassure herself during the child’s first year, but then moves on with her life. Many adoptive parents are surprised to find they are the ones who long for more contact with the birthmother.
It is important to remember that adoption is not a joint custody agreement. Both birth and adoptive parents must remember that the adoptive parent is entitled to parent the child. A single parent may feel more need to “prove herself” than a couple might, perhaps feeling pressure to prove that the life she provides as a single parent is better than the life the child would have had with a single birthmother. The adoptive parent must remember that she is not perfect and need not be. Birthmother and adoptive parent will not agree on every parenting decision. The adoptive mother must be comfortable claiming the child, acknowledging that she is entitled to discipline him and make decisions for him.
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