Eleven Simple Steps to Successful Single Adoption

October 8, 2014 adopting as a single mom, Desiree, working mom 7 Comments

Single parenting is a special responsibility. For most, life as a single parent it is not a chosen event; they somehow ended up balancing both ends of the teeter-totter and probably not expectantly. But single adoption is another story. A parent who chooses to walk forward in parenting a child alone, especially a child with special needs, is a embracing a huge ministry and it can be confusing for many on the outside, sometimes leading to judgment & isolation. Family is a husband/father, wife/mother and a child; even God says so, right? The answer is yes & no. I believe God’s best intention is to have every child with their birth family — father & mother. There is no denying that. But God’s best intention was also for us to be in the Garden of Eden, sinless and living forever in His perfect glory. When sin entered the world, families broke apart and God’s redemptive plan of adoption started immediately; us into His Heavenly family and earthly children into ours.

The reality is there are millions of children who need loving parents and a single parent CAN provide the love and care that they need, successfully and with God’s hand of blessing. There are plenty of beautiful examples of single parenting throughout the Bible (Hagar & Ishmael, Naomi & Ruth, Elijah & the widow, Eunice & Timothy). And while some of these are lovely testimonies of single fatherhood, Mordecai raising Queen Esther for example (Esther 2:7), because most countries & agencies aren’t able to support single-father adopters at this time, the tips listed below are focused on single mothers. isaac

These are indeed tips, not absolutes, gathered from women who have heard God’s calling to adopt and stepped out into the unknown…and are succeeding and loving their lives with their forever children! Single parenting is certainly not easy, but the lack of a husband does not equal a lack of calling into adoption; ALL are called to care for His children and He shows no favoritism in that call (James 1:27; Acts 10:24). If you are single and considering adoption, let these Eleven Simple Steps to Successful Single Adoption (insert trolling ‘call now’ at bottom of screen *wink*) be an encouragement to your heart. Saying “YES” and allowing God to move freely through you will forever change your life and the life of your forever child.

1. Parenting is a calling, single parenting is a mission! You are about to be deployed in full-time special-needs adoption mission field…in your own home, while continuing your day job. You need to prepare your heart, home, support group and finances just as if you were going to Outer Clutchistan (not a real place, folks. Please do not try to get a flight there).

So, once you feel you’ve had a clear calling from the Lord:

a). Develop a League of Wisdom: Proverbs 1:5 says “A man/woman of understanding will attain wise counsel” and again in 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”. These should be trusted, spiritually mature men and women in your life that won’t necessarily tell you what you want to hear or get caught up in the excitement of an adoption…they’ll tell you what they hear God saying, in truth & love. And they’ll be committed to seeing you succeed in Christ and cover you in prayer & practical care. Jesus always sent his ministry teams out in pairs (Luke 10:1). As a single adopter, your other half…is your support team.

b). Get your spiritual house in order & commit your works to the Lord (Prov 16:3): Ask the Lord to heal open wounds and reconcile relationships if needed. As you are entering into a covenant relationship with this child, you are mirroring God’s love with us. Your sweet one will come with their own past & need for healing that must be the focus of your relationship. The Holy Spirit will continue to work in your life as He promised, but being as spiritually healthy as possible from the start will allow you to provide the best support for your precious child’s heart.

c). Get your financial house in order. If you have debt or other financial unhealth, seek wisdom on how to best resolve these issues before your child comes home. God does not call us into debt and as a single adopter you’ll need to stretch a single income to care for your child including food, clothing, safety supplies, extra utilities, daycare/school, transportation and medical/therapy bills. If your new child has significant medical or developmental needs, you’ll need to plan your finances for the long term to make sure your sweet one is always well cared for. A financial planner may be appropriate to help make these decisions.

2. The Lord WILL provide. Finances tend to be the biggest hurdle for any adoption family, single or married. In a single adoption, the lack of a second paycheck in the home and the significance of added expenses of a child can be simply overwhelming. There are certainly adoption grants available and I would encourage applying for ALL, but you will find many grant agencies choose to focus on financially supporting the traditional married family in their adoptions. This is not any kind of discrimination, just reality. BUT God is bigger than reality and you get to hold fast to His promise that He WILL provide…for ALL your needs (2 Cor 9:8): financially, practically & spiritually. Doors will swing open down hallways you didn’t even know to look! Donations will come from the best of strangers; unexpected bonuses will be paid out; your mortgage will be easily refinanced or your rent lowered; work schedules will miraculously change to allow you to be with your child more, etc. Money will not be the reason that God does not fulfill His calling in your life. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10), which may mean hamburgers for the rest of your life, but you WILL be provided for! isaac2

3. Learn from the Greatest Parent. It may sound like a cheesy Christian bumper sticker (God is my co-parent), but it’s true. You probably don’t have the benefit of another parent in the house to balance your strengths & weakness or to tag you out in a moment of frustration or overwhelming fatigue. Add the unique needs of adoption parenting and any special physical or developmental needs of your precious child and single parenting can seem wildly overwhelming! But this is when our Heavenly Father says “wait on Me, and I will give you the strength of the young & well rested” (Isaiah 40:31); “don’t lean on your own understanding {or those telling you how to raise your child}” (Prov 3:5-6); “if you lack wisdom, ask Me and I will give it to you” (James 1:5); “just do what I do (John 5:19); “I am compassionate & gracious, I don’t get mad easily, I abound in love & faithfulness instead. I punish discretions when necessary, but I forgive quickly and My love maintains forever!” (Exodus 34: 6-7). What an awesome parenting plan! It’s the same one the Lord uses with us. Asking the Holy Spirit to surround you with excellent parents you can learn from is always good, especially with dads that are active & engaged in their children’s lives. Ask them to speak into your child’s life with the masculine influence and man-grunting that only dudes can provide! Men hear differently from the Lord and have a special calling in their lives. You will be able to play dual-parent in A LOT of areas of your child’s life, but sometimes—especially if you have a son—they are going to need some“Uncle” or “Grampa” time.

4. Don’t fall into the sin of comparison. God has called YOU into this life of single parenting, either for a season or for a lifetime. He did not call your married friends and possibly not your single friends who have not adopted. Attempting to compare your life to that of a married couple or jet-setting singleton diminishes the miracle of God’s hand in your life and allows the seeds of bitterness of be planted…and bloom. Rest firmly in God’s call and the promises He has set out for you. He WILL fulfill all that He said He would (Ps 21:2, Ps 57:2).

5. Be your child’s expert. This is true for any (adoptive) family, but as a singleton you won’t have the physical extra person standing at your side helping make decisions. So, do your research. What is your child’s special need? How can you plan ahead for their arrival? What resources are available to you in your community? Do you need to reach out to another community/city/specialist to provide the best care for your child? There will be plenty of people who will speak into your life in the care of your child, whether it is in how to feed your child, how to discipline, or what medical care to pursue. The number of ‘expert’ voices can be daunting at times. But at the end of the day YOU are one God chose to be the parent of this child. You may have only been a family for two months and you are still learning the ropes of their special need, YOU are your child’s expert by virtue of God’s call. Do your due diligence (2 Tim 2:15) then trust the Holy Spirit to guide in you in making the best decision for your child (1 Jo 2:27).

6. Sweat only the things that will actually kill you or your child…everything else truly IS the small stuff. Anxiety is a vicious tool of the Devil and can eat away at your physical, emotional & spiritual strength. Not having someone else around to make quick decisions with can seed thoughts of worry and doubt. But the Lord tells us to “don’t be anxious for anything, BUT in every situation in prayer be thankful and present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6). In those moments of “OH MY GOSH, what do I do??” choose to go to prayer; choose to be thankful; choose to honor God as being the real One in control. He will be faithful to give you the guidance you need through the Holy Spirit in you or through those who have wisdom in that area (Prov 2:6). isaac3

7. Use your villagers. I’ve never liked the “it takes a village to raise a child” mantra. It’s not other people’s place to raise my child; God designated me to raise my child, not them (and now I’ve got the papers to prove it!). BUT it can be their place to help YOU be an effective parent. If deep cleaning your house or mowing the lawn is keeping you from spending precious time with your child after work, find someone who can help you. There might be someone in your church or support circle that is praying for a way to serve or needs a few extra pennies for their own family. Check your pride if needed, but there is just no possible way to do it ALL on your own; God didn’t design you do anything on your own. We were meant to live our lives out together! Satan knows this and he’ll be quick to whisper “you can’t ask for help, you chose this life, if you ask for help they’ll know you are in over your head.” Of course you are in over your head silly — God asked you, a broken big human, to raise a hurt tiny human; good gravy, you are going to need help! Be realistic on what you can and cannot do in balancing your life, then ask the Lord to provide in those areas you know you need help in.

8. Learn to be gracious, and have a sense of humor. Some people just won’t know how to support you, either through ignorance or stupidity. They will ask dumb questions, unintentionally hurt you, and/or make fools of themselves. Keep your child safe when necessary (it’s not OK to demean or publicly criticize), but also attempt to give grace to their ignorance. They might just not get it, and that’s alright. You can’t win them all. I keep a couple of one-liners in my back pocket for the recurrent comments:

Q: Is his father Asian? A: Gosh, I sure hope so!”

Q: Why didn’t you adopt a normal child? A: Because I wanted a child like me.” (That always makes them think!)

Q: What are you going to do when you get married? A: Well, I’ve heard rumors, but I don’t think we are supposed to talk about it in public.”

Q: You know, no man will want to marry a single mother.” A: Are you kidding?! We are a ready made, two-for-one deal… one ring = a cute kid & a wife without stretch marks!” (shhh…I have a couple, but don’t tell!)

This is the question/comment that is all too common. I know peoples’ intentions are good, but their amazement and/or praise are going to the wrong Person. When God calls you to step out in an unbelievable calling, He is going to do unbelievable works. Including, sustaining YOU as a single parent in caring for His precious child.

Take the opportunity to give the Glory where it is due:

Q: Just look at you working full time, raising a child with special needs and all on your own! I just don’t know how you do it?!! A (gracious smile):Yup, it’s a lot of work, but TOTALLY worth it. Just look at my handsome boy and how God is working in our family!”

9. Get your rest. You have the same 24 hours in a day as you did before parenthood but you are now allotting those hours in a drastically different way than before. The reality is, as a single parent, you are doing the work of two, and probably holding down a full time job at the same time. Take the rest when you can; turn off the TV, close the book, save the dishes for later…go to bed! You will be of no use to your child, your family, your employer if you are exhausted and there is no one to “get up with the baby” tonight… it’s ALL you. Even God rested (Gen 2:2), so make sure you do too.

10. Don’t forget your time with the Lord. This is a must! When your child comes home, if you still have your dedicated & uninterrupted daily quiet time with the Lord, that’s great! If you find that precious time somehow got lost in the hustle of the day, get creative and find the time when you can. Some of your sweetest worship may come in the shower or on the way to work after daycare/school drop off. If you give that time in earnest–even just a few minutes before you close your eyes–the Lord WILL meet you there and speak deeply to your heart (Ps 25:4-5), refreshing your mind & body. isaac4

11. Have fun! Life doesn’t stop because you are a single parent. Go on trips with friends, take selfies, have ice cream dates in your PJ’s. Find ways to give your child and yourself memories that you don’t want to forget. Marvel at the miracle that made you a parent; God chose YOU to raise His beautiful child. That is something to be celebrated. His joy in you & your obedience to His calling will overflow your heart (John 15:11). And what a testimony to those around you! You never know, there may be a potential single mom quietly watching the Lord work through you and getting her own calling to adopt.

7 responses to “Eleven Simple Steps to Successful Single Adoption”

  1. Nancy says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing your wisdom Desiree! Your son is beautiful!!

  2. Ma Maddox says:

    Awesome. I am a Single Mother by Choice through adoption. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. Loved your article. Your son is precious. God Bless.

  3. Denise says:

    Great article, As a single parent that wants to adopt I have found Developing a League of Wisdom, hardest of all. Would love to know more about how to go about this.

  4. Sheryl says:

    So beautiful, Desiree! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, and scripture to go along with it. I pray the Lord blesses you and your handsome boy beyond your wildest dreams!

  5. Karen Pugh says:

    Loved the article ! I am a single adoptive of of two beautiful young ladies from China.

  6. Shari says:

    This article is perfect! I’m a single mom of one, and adopting one. You wrote out all my thoughts. Love this! Thanks so much for the encouragement.

  7. Christie says:

    What happens if you start the China SN adoption process as a single woman but then end up getting married during the wait for your child? Will you have to put the adoption on hold until two years after the wedding? Will you lose your child if you have already been matched?

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