FAQs for Single Women Adopting Internationally


mom holding boyThere are options for single women interested in adopting a child internationally. MLJ Adoptions has assisted many single parents on their adoption journey and we look forward to not only continuing to do so, but also continuing to find new and meaningful ways to provide additional support for these families. The single parents who have adopted with MLJ Adoptions are an amazing and courageous group. Those seeking to adopt as an unmarried parent may experience additional challenges. Our goal is to eliminate as many barriers as possible and provide as much support as possible for those single parents seeking to adoption internationally. Below are some of the initial questions you might want to contemplate when considering international adoption as a single woman.

Are there adoption agencies that will accept me?
Yes, there are many adoption agencies, like MLJ Adoptions, that accept unmarried parents. However, not all do, so make sure to ask that question when you are considering an adoption agency.

Are there countries that will accept me?
Yes, there are options open to single women looking to adopt internationally. Each country establishes their own eligibility requirements, so you will want to focus your research efforts on country programs open to single women. Of the international adoption programs MLJ Adoptions offers, we have four country program options open to single women. Single women may adopt from Bulgaria, Haiti, Mexico and Samoa. These programs are excellent options for many single women. Of these country programs, three are Hague Convention countries allowing for additional safeguards and a more predicable international adoption process. MLJ Adoptions also assists families with individualized country programs for those who already have a country in mind and are seeking a primary provider.

How can I afford an international adoption on one income?
For most families, affording adoption is a process that takes time and effort. The cost of the services necessary to bring a child who needs a family home are worth it, but that does not mean it will be easy to afford an adoption. Adoptive families not only apply for grants and fundraise, but they also often engage in sacrificial savings, as needed. If you are seriously considering international adoption, it’s important to do your best not to let the total cost overwhelm you.

Somewhat small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact for your adoption fund, like bringing your lunch to work, committing to only ordering water at restaurants, and shopping for better rates for your phone and cable. Challenging yourself to live on half or 75% of your salary for the first month can kick start your adoption savings fund. It’s important not to merely focus on the total number, but make reasonable and attainable goals along the way. There are very few families who begin the adoption process with the total amount saved. Each dollar saved and each dollar raised counts.

I have also spoken with single women looking to adopt that have felt defeated because there are fewer adoption grants available to them. It is true that there are fewer grant options for singles, as grant issuing organizations establish their own eligibility requirements. However, our single parents who have raised funds successfully have been able to focus on the opportunities open to them, despite the barriers. MLJ Adoptions has a Financial Resources Guide available to all families which lists grant opportunities and indicates which opportunities are open to unmarried parents. This Guide is a great place to start.

Are there additional options for support for those of us adopting as a single parent?
Adoptive parents often find that once they begin telling people they are in the adoption process, there are many family members and friends that will be supportive. In addition to this immediate support system, there are groups all around the nation that connect to support each other during this process. At MLJ Adoptions, we also offer opportunities for single adoptive parents to connect with and support each other, individually and as a group. We are also in the process of facilitating a support group call specifically geared towards those adopting as single parents.

Are there additional risks that I may face adopting as a single parent?
As was indicated above, each country establishes their own eligibility requirements for adoptive families. Of MLJ Adoptions’ international programs Bulgaria, Haiti, Samoa and Mexico are open to single women. However, there is the possibility that the country would change its requirements, no longer allowing single women to adopt, as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nicaragua have done. It is less likely that in a Hague Convention country like Bulgaria, Mexico and Haiti that the law would change abruptly disallowing you from adopting, but this is a risk with adopting from any country program. When you are considering an agency to work with in your international adoption, it will be important to ask the question of, what would happen if I begin the adoption process and the country closes to single parents? At MLJ Adoptions, if this were the case there would be a financial credit that would transfer between country programs to lessen the burden. It is also important to consider if the agency has other country programs that you would qualify for, because if the agency does not, there may not be another option for you with that agency to continue on with an adoption.

If you are a single person looking to adopt internationally, please contact us. We are more than happy to discuss this possibility with you and connect you with past MLJ families that adopted as a single to further give you an idea of what this process could be like.

Nicole Skellenger works as MLJ Adoptions’ Chief Executive Officer and Adoption Attorney. Nicole has spent time in orphanages with children who have nothing and are desperate for affection and has committed herself to using her skills to create better futures for these deserving children.