single parent with adopted baby

A Single Parent's Guide to Adoption: The Pre-Placement Stage

By PairTree

September 12, 2023

In 2017, almost 15,000 single women and nearly 2,000 single men adopted children, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). This number rises every year as the adoption industry becomes more welcoming and accessible to single parents.

As you start out your adoption journey, you'll find that single people who choose adoption have many adoption options, resources, and support! And you can join the millions of single parents raising healthy, thriving children.

Download your printable copy of the Single Parent's Guide to Adoption here.

Step One: Is Single Parent Adoption Right for You?

After working with hundreds of single-parent households that have come to adoption from infertility, we see them struggling with the shift. Oftentimes, moving straight from IVF into adoption, and thinking it’s a direct replacement, is a challenging transition.

Adoption is so much different than birthing a biological child, and still very different from birthing a donor-conceived child. There’s no set amount of time you need to wait, but here are our top two pieces of advice:

  • Give yourself time: No one can tell you how much time is the right amount before you’re ready to pursue adoption (though some adoption agencies and home study providers won’t work with you until a certain amount of time has passed). Grief is a journey that takes time. Give yourself permission to mourn your dream and heal at your own pace. Avoid rushing into adoption before you have had the opportunity to process your grief and make informed decisions.
  • Acknowledge your feelings: Recognize and accept the emotions you're experiencing. It's 100% normal to feel sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, jealousy, or a sense of loss. Allow yourself to fully experience these emotions without judgment.

We highly recommend taking this Creating a Family course for anyone who is coming to adoption from infertility. Additionally, we really like this NYT article if you’re still contemplating whether or not adoption is right for you (see ‘Know your reasons for adopting — and accept your limits' section). Also, immerse yourself in some of the adoption language and acronyms to help you get started. And, finally, check out this course about Adopting as a Single Parent.

As a single person considering adoption, you may also be confronted with public perception of adopting and may have questions or concerns about the unique challenges of single parenting. Am I financially prepared? What happens when/if I need to work late? We’ll address these topics, and more, below!

Once you’ve decided to move forward with adoption, your next step is to contemplate which path you should take.

Step Two: Which Adoption Path is Right for You?

There are a number of adoption paths to consider. When choosing which path to pursue, there are two major decisions to be made such as: public vs. private and domestic vs. international, that will influence which path is right for you.

Creating a Family does a great job of comparing the implications of the different paths available. Once that decision is made, you’ll need to make decisions on a number of preferences such as the age of the child, openness to special needs, transracial, etc.

Domestic vs. International Adoption

Both domestic adoption and international adoption have their own set of challenges, rewards, and considerations. Each option requires careful consideration of factors such as cultural readiness, financial capabilities, legal requirements, and personal preferences. Here are the five major considerations when deciding between domestic adoption and international adoption:

  • Geographic Scope and Cultural Diversity: Domestic adoption involves adopting a child within your own country of residence. The child is typically from the same cultural and linguistic background as the adoptive family. In contrast, international adoption involves adopting a child from a different country, often with a different cultural background and potentially a different language.
  • Adoption Process and Legal Requirements: The adoption process and legal requirements differ significantly between domestic and international adoption. Domestic adoption processes are governed by the laws and regulations of the adoptive country, which vary from one jurisdiction to another. International adoption involves navigating the legal systems and requirements of both the adoptive country and the child's country of origin. This can involve additional steps, such as immigration processes and compliance with the adoption laws and policies of the child's birth country, which often means the child will be older when he/she comes home with you. An adopting family needs to first pick the country from which they would like to adopt, as there is no “global adoption agency.” Most international adoption agencies specialize in the legal requirements and process of one or two countries.
  • Availability of Information and Birth Parent Contact: Domestic adoption often provides more comprehensive access to the child's medical history, background information, and ongoing contact with birth parents, depending on the type of adoption arrangement. International adoption may involve limited information about the child's medical history, early life experiences, or birth family background due to cultural, legal, or logistical reasons. Obtaining detailed information about the child's background in international adoption can be more challenging.
  • Travel and Time Commitment: International adoption typically requires travel to the child's birth country to complete the adoption process, including meeting the child, attending court hearings, and fulfilling any necessary legal requirements. The travel involved in international adoption can vary in duration and frequency, depending on the country and the specific circumstances. While domestic adoption also involves travel (if you’re adopting from another state, you’d need to plan to stay in that state for up to two weeks), it’s generally much less travel than international adoption.
  • Cost and Financial Considerations: The costs associated with domestic adoption and international adoption can differ significantly. Domestic adoption expenses often include home study fees, legal fees, agency fees, and counseling services. International adoption costs typically involve a broader range of expenses such as international agency fees, travel expenses, immigration processes, translation and document authentication, and potential in-country costs. International adoption expenses can vary widely depending on the country of origin and the specific adoption program.

Public/Foster Adoption vs. Private Adoption

These two different adoption paths are usually confused. Hopeful adoptive parents often think you can pursue both at the same time. (BTW – PairTree hopes to make that a reality one day too!). For now, the two paths require different procedures, so it’s important to know the difference.

  • Public Adoption refers to adopting through the foster care system. It’s VERY IMPORTANT to note that the goal of foster care is to reunify the child with his/her biological parents, NOT to permanently place the child in your home.
  • Legal Status and Involvement: Foster adoption involves the adoption of a child who is currently in the foster care system. These children have been removed from their birth families due to a crisis in parenting, typically some kind of abuse, neglect, or other issues. Private adoption, on the other hand, involves the adoption of an infant or child who is voluntarily placed for adoption by their birth parents.
  • Age of Children: Foster adoption generally involves adopting older children, sibling groups, or children with special needs who are unable to return to their birth families, and may have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. Private adoption often focuses on the adoption of infants or younger children, and their backgrounds vary depending on the specific circumstances.
  • Timeframe: The timeline for foster adoption and private adoption can differ significantly. Foster adoption timelines can be unpredictable, as the primary goal is to reunite children with their birth families whenever possible. Fostering a child typically involves ongoing, monitored visits with the child’s biological family. If reunification is not possible, adoption becomes an option. This process can take several months to several years.
    • Private adoption timelines tend to be more controlled and can vary depending on the preferences and circumstances of the adoptive family, the availability of birth parents, and the legal requirements. Though “waiting to be matched” can drive the timeline. (PairTree has had families connect in less than 10 days, but has also seen families wait over a year.)
  • Cost: The cost associated with foster adoption is generally minimal or significantly lower than private adoption. Foster adoption expenses typically involve home study fees, court costs, and legal fees, which may be reimbursed or subsidized by the government or child welfare agency.
    • In contrast, private adoption costs can be substantial and may include agency fees, legal fees, birth-parent expenses, counseling, and other services. These costs can vary greatly depending on the adoption professional and the specific circumstances of the adoption. (PairTree is working really hard to ensure private adoption costs are reasonable!)
  • Support and Services: Every adoption path will require support, and adoptive parents often underestimate the amount of support they will need. It is especially important for our single adoptive parents to have a small group of supporters that you can consistently rely on for emotional support. Foster care agencies typically provide ongoing support, resources, and training to help adoptive parents navigate the unique challenges that may arise due to the child's background or special needs. Private adoption agencies or professionals may also offer support services, but the extent of these services may vary. PairTree has efforts underway to make private adoption support services available to more families (both two and single-parent households).

Regardless of the path you take, I recommend ensuring you always have the most choice and control over your process.

single mom with her adopted child

So…How Much Does Single Parent Adoption Cost?

In addition to the above, other factors to consider relate to cost and effort. For those pursuing private adoption, PairTree strives to make the total cost of adoption between $15,000-$20,000 while the average cost of private infant adoption in the US is around $45K-65K). International adoption has an even larger range associated with it.

Before you move forward, it’s a good idea to figure out how much you can comfortably afford knowing that your child will ask you the circumstances of the adoption, including how much you spent. In order to feel comfortable with your answer, it’s important to be honest with yourself when weighing the options.

Managing your adoption journey is like taking on a part-time job. So consider how much time you have to invest in this process. There are three major milestones on an adoption journey.

  • Milestone #1: Home Study (where you get approved to adopt).
  • Milestone #2: Outreach (where you connect with expecting moms via online profiles, profile books, agency and attorney connections, word of mouth, social media and more)
  • Milestone #3: Legal (where you finalize your adoption)

If you don’t know what you’re doing, Milestone #2: Outreach can be very expensive. At PairTree, we help families plan and manage their outreach path, and advise families to spend the least amount possible for as long as possible because the longer you wait, the wider you’ll want to go with outreach (and going wider usually has a price associated with it). If you’ve locked yourself into an expensive contract at Milestone #1: Home Study, you’re stuck – and can’t afford to go wider with your outreach. Some other financial considerations:

  • If you have a financial advisor, we recommend getting their input.
  • You can also apply for grants.
  • Some employers offer “infertility benefits” or “family-building benefits” and sometimes adoption costs are included. (If your employer doesn’t offer these, let us know – we'd be happy to talk to your HR team about adding these benefits.)
  • PairTree fees qualify for the Federal Tax Credit, a huge benefit for adopting families. For adoptions finalized in 2023, there is a federal adoption tax credit of up to $15,950 per child! Learn more here.

Tip #1: At PairTree, you can get home study approved and build your outreach materials for less than $5K.

Tip #2: Identified adoption. Most adoption agencies have lower fees for something called “identified adoption.” That means the adopting family and an expectant mom connected with one another outside of an agency, and are now asking the agency to walk them through the legal milestone. Instead of paying an expensive agency fee, adopting families are typically asked to pay much less.

Tip #3: Legally-free child. In the foster care system, there are children who are referred to as “legally-free children.” While we don’t like the moniker, what it means is that there are children in foster care whose parental rights have been terminated, making them available for private adoption, but oftentimes the fees associated with this type of adoption are very low. The laws around these children vary slightly from state to state – for example, in some states, you can have a private adoption home study to adopt a legally free child. In other states, you have to be foster care licensed.

Single-parent households have the added challenge of considering the lifetime cost of raising a child with only one source of income. Making sure you can financially support a child beyond the cost of adoption itself is critical. The latest Expenditures on Children by Families Report from the USDA indicates the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is about $245,000, which is roughly equivalent to about $13,600 a year. Use the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator to get a more specific idea of how much it will cost you each year to raise a child based on personal factors like your income and location.

It is also important to have a financial “plan B” in the event that challenges arise financially. You should inform your employer of your adoption plan, and prepare financially for how you will support yourself during the time you choose to spend at home with your child after placement.

So…at this point, you’ve done your homework and should have a directional sense of which path to adoption is right for you. Take time to celebrate this accomplishment!

Step Three: Build Your Outreach & Legal Team

As you’re going through the home study process, you can also start learning about adoption laws in your state:

  • Some states require that you use a licensed child-placing agency to facilitate an adoption, while other states allow you to work with just an attorney.
  • There is also a federal law called “ICPC,” which stands for “Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children,” which includes all the regulations and requirements for interstate adoption.
  • You don’t need to know all the intricacies of adoption law, but you do need team members on your side to help guide you.

With regard to adoption law, we recommend contacting an AAAA attorney in your state. These attorneys specialize in adoption - plus, you will eventually need an attorney to finalize your adoption so it’s best to start fostering a relationship with an attorney early in the process.

We also recommend meeting with an adoption agency in your state. It’s always a good idea to learn from adoption agencies in your area about:

  • Recent adoption trends
  • How they operate, and the processes they follow
  • How they treat expectant moms and birth families

But fair warning – just like home study providers, not all adoption agencies or adoption attorneys are created equally. Some adoption professionals operate in super shady ways. Here are some questions you should ask to ensure they are working in a way that resonates with you:

  • How do expectant moms find your agency?
  • What support does your agency offer the birth family post-placement?
    • It’s worth noting that expectant moms & birth families are often highly mistreated in this country. (We’re working hard to fix that!) Learn about the expectant mom journey here.
  • What is the current ratio of expectant moms to waiting adoptive families (and how does that compare)?
  • What is the average wait period for your families?
  • What are the total costs? Agency fees (including application fees, home study fees, matching fees) + legal fees + birth mother expenses
  • How many single-parent households are on your waiting list? Can I connect with them directly?

Collect as much information as you can, and let it simmer for a couple of weeks. Remember, this is a lifelong decision, and your “team” is essential to helping you realize a healthy adoption (which means you’ll receive support for years after the placement).

Note: You’re never alone in this decision. PairTree has relationships with adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, and adoption consultants across the country, so we are able to help you pick the right professionals too!

Depending on your financial situation, you may also be able to leverage multiple adoption professionals (PairTree + agency or adoption consultant) in a “hybrid” approach. We can help identify if that’s a good option for you.  We work with everyone (whom we consider ethical - definitely ask us about that) and advise that you spend as little money as possible to get the most opportunity.

Other team members you might consider:

  • A medical professional (who can inform you about the medical implications of drug & alcohol exposure - if relevant, or any other questions you may have)
  • A family therapist who specializes in adoption. Trust me, you will eventually need support from a trained professional, and it’s best to find someone who understands the adoption experience from multiple perspectives.
  • Lock down your list of “go-to” friends and family members who can serve as your support system while you go through this process – this is a great opportunity to practice leaning on them for support.
  • As a single parent, you also need to start thinking about your support system for when your child gets sick, when you need a break (and you will!), and/or if you want to go on a date or a vacation (by yourself). Building and having your support team while you wait, and after your child is placed with you, is super important for single-parent households.

Hot tip: Don’t sign any contracts until you’ve completed the home study. You’ll learn so much in the home study process that it might change your mind about which adoption professionals you want to use.

Hot tip: Chemistry really matters in this process! When you work with an adoption professional, make sure you “vibe.” This is a lifelong relationship, so it’s important that you feel safe and connected to this person. Especially when it comes to your home study provider!

How Can I Self-Navigate the Adoption Process?

PairTree shows you how! We’re an adoption enablement platform that partners with agencies and adoption professionals nationwide to provide all the services and resources necessary to healthily navigate the private adoption process. PairTree also makes it possible for you to connect directly with expectant moms and adoption professionals on your own, granting you more choice and control. Here are the 3 questions you should ask yourself to see if this approach is right for you.

We are happy to provide a free consultation about PairTree. Feel free to schedule time with us by reaching out via There are 3 adoptive parents at PairTree and one 2x birth mom, and we’re all ready to share our perspectives.

And, you’re not alone! There are many single-parent households on PairTree Connect, and we are happy to introduce you to them.

single mom playing outside with her child

Step Four: Get Home Study Approved

Now that you have decided on an approach, it’s time to start working on your home study. Although it is the third step in this guide, it is the first major step toward your adoption. This is the step where PairTree comes in!

We’re an adoption enablement platform that partners with adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, home study providers, and other adoption professionals nationwide to help you plan and manage your adoption path in the healthiest way possible. We’ve negotiated fees with home study providers (some of which are also adoption agencies) across the country to make sure you get the most ethical adoption professionals and the most opportunities for the least cost. PairTree also makes it possible for you to connect directly with expectant moms and adoption professionals on your own, granting you more choice and control.

This is where we’d recommend scheduling a free consultation with Laurie (she’s worked in adoption for 25+ years) or reaching out to There are adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption professionals who all work at PairTree and are all ready to share our perspectives.

A home study is meant to be an educational process – preparing you for all the variables involved in private adoption. The home study process varies by state, but all include a comprehensive background check, financial assessment, referrals, education, autobiographical details, and at least one home visit.

There are so many important questions to discuss and answer (so you really get to learn more about each other). You get to choose a home study provider through PairTree (who will be your mentor and advocate for the entirety of your adoption journey – arguably the most important relationship on your team), and you get to feel a strong sense of reward by completing this extensive assessment of your life. It’s not a “check-the-box” activity! It’s really your opportunity to learn and prepare. The process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months – driven by your pace.

The home study process is when you answer some very important questions. For example:

  • Am I open to special needs?
  • Am I open to drug/alcohol exposure during pregnancy?
  • What degree of “openness” do I want with the birth family?
  • Am I open to a transracial adoption?

As you think about your answers to these questions, strongly consider “why” and “what’s underneath” your view. At PairTree, all of our families get discounted education via our partnership with Creating a Family. This is a great resource to guide your decision-making around the questions above.

Countless studies (and our personal experiences at PairTree) continuously show that healthy open adoption relationships are better for adoptees, but we know that idea can be intimidating to adopting families. It’s a phenomenon we call “the 180º shift.” We see it all the time…An adopting family that was nervous about an open adoption makes a 180º shift to wanting their child to have a healthy relationship with their birth family!

Similarly, if you answer “yes” to trans-racial adoption…read this book. There are countless, life-long implications to this decision and it’s best to be fully aware & prepared. In addition to this book, discuss the implications of transracial adoption with transracial adoptees, as well as your team of adoption professionals.

At PairTree, we connect you with a licensed home study provider (that we know and love) who uses our modern/online Home Base platform to complete your home study in the most efficient, transparent, and secure manner possible. Watch our videos – they are really helpful. Any questions, reach out to

Just like agencies, not all home study processes and providers are created equally.

Also, don’t stress about the home visit. (And no need to bake cookies or buy fresh flowers.) In fact, read this article.

single dad playing with his adopted child

Step Five: Build Your Adopting Family Profile

Once you complete the home study and are approved, you can build an online profile on PairTree’s Connect platform, and start connecting with expectant moms. Exciting!

As a prospective adoptive parent, your PairTree profile is your first impression of an expectant parent. Their first glimpse into your life, your family, and your home – and potentially, the life, family, and home they choose for their baby. Having a strong profile, and making a great first impression, is not only important – it could be the difference between an expectant parent reaching out or moving on.

Your profile needs to be the most painfully authentic version of yourself possible. It’s important to realize that the expectant mom is the one in charge – it’s her choice and her timeline.

So what is an expectant mom looking for?

The truth is, every expectant mom is going to connect with something different. Daunting, we know. But at the end of the day, it’s not about how many messages you get or how many expectant moms see your profile - it’s about connecting with the right expectant mom. That being said, here are 3 things an expectant mom is looking for when choosing an adoptive family.


An expectant or birth parent wants to make a connection with you through your profile, she wants to feel something. That’s why it’s so important to be authentic in your profile…she might be drawn to your Lego collection, your love (obsession) of Harry Potter or Marvel, that annual trip to the Renaissance Fair, your weekend kayaking trips, or that sourdough starter you’ve been perfecting for years. Show what makes you, you.


Stability doesn’t necessarily mean financial stability - you don’t have to have a mansion, beach house, or NYC penthouse to adopt. An expectant or birth parent wants to know that you can provide a safe, stable, loving home to her child. Share photos of your home, backyard, family dinners, and neighborhood to show the life her child could have. And, being single is not a negative! Many expectant moms prefer single-parent households given their belief the child is less likely to suffer the impact of divorce (among other reasons).


Positive adoption language and a positive view on adoption, open adoption, and expectant and birth parents matter. It’s important to show expectant parents that you’re educated on adoption by using positive adoption language in your profile, expectant mom letters, and conversations. She wants to know that she will be loved, respected, valued, and celebrated in your family and in her child’s life.

All you can do is show up in the most honest and respectful way possible. Your profile is your chance to do that! Here is some guidance that we offer for the profile-building process and remember:

  1. Be more afraid of being the same, than you are of being different.
  2. Good photos don’t necessarily mean professional photos.
  3. Show your real life.

In the event an expectant mom contacts you, it’s important to take a few breaths. We provide lots of safe connection tips and tips for talking with an expectant mom, and you can always touch base with PairTree or your home study provider for guidance. If your internal alarms go off (for whatever reason), listen to that and seek guidance.

At PairTree, we constantly monitor connections and notify families immediately if an expectant mom flags one of the three markers we track. Scams occur across the adoption industry and you need to protect yourself.

Step Six: Trust the Process & Practice Patience

You’ve spent countless hours preparing, researching, gathering paperwork, and completing background checks, and finally, the application is in, and your home study is complete. All you want is a tiny glimpse into the future, some glimmer of hope that a missing piece of your family’s puzzle is waiting just around the corner.

You don’t need all the answers right away, you would gladly settle for a due date, a gender, or even the knowledge that your profile is in the short stack, awaiting a decision from a pensive expectant mother. Waiting for your morning coffee to brew is hard...waiting to find out who your future child will be can be absolute torture.

The fact that there typically isn’t a timeline when it comes to connecting prospective adoptive parents with expectant mothers makes the waiting process a daunting one.

So, during the time of waiting, you can create a profile book, launch an adoption website, and send emails to your network asking for their help in finding an expectant mom. Plus, you need to take care of yourselves. Of course, you can (and should) read books about adoption, but you should also enjoy trashy beach reads, hit the gym, make healthy meals, and spend quality time with your people. But do not despair, there are a few things you can do (and not do) to make life easier while you hang out in adoption limbo:

  • Do live your life! Take that trip you have been planning for months. Remodel that bathroom you’ve been meaning to get to since you moved in.  Visit those relatives you’ve been wanting to see but just haven’t gotten around to.  The beauty of modern technology is that information is never more than a phone call, text, or email away. If you make a connection with a birth family, you will know immediately! Putting life on hold will only make the waiting process harder so get out there and do your thing.
  • Don’t sit around and worry. Your home study is complete, your profile is spot-on, and a connection will happen when it's supposed to happen.  Plus, you have an entire support system in your corner!  Worry will unfortunately not speed up the process and will only wreak havoc on your nails.  So save your cuticles and your sanity, and instead, distract your mind with something meaningful like volunteer work or take up a new hobby to help pass the time. Allow yourself to trust the process, and know that things ARE happening.
  • Do nest (if you want to). If preparing a nursery or bedroom for your future child makes you happy, by all means, go forth and DIY.  It provides many people with a sense of comfort knowing that they will have a clean, quiet, welcoming space to bond with their baby. On the other hand, don’t feel pressured to have a nursery picture-perfect prior to placement.  There will be plenty of time for that later on.  All your child needs are the basic necessities, a clean, comfortable home, and time to bond with their new family.
  • Do connect with other adoptive parents. Adoption is hard. Having a strong support system is critical to making it through the adoption process and there is no greater support than connecting with other parents who have been through the process themselves and lived to tell the tale. They will be able to share their stories with you, the ups and downs of their journeys, and the joy that they now experience as adoptive parents, all the while reassuring you that it will all be worth it in the end. They will guide you, cry with you, pray for you, and rejoice with you when that precious baby is finally placed in your arms. This community is an invaluable resource as you navigate the tumultuous waters of adoption. Lean on them!
  • Don’t give up! Discouragement happens and challenges will arise, but don’t let them keep you down. Each and every adoption journey is unique. Some families might wait years while others are thrown into parenthood with very little warning. You might experience disappointment, disruptions, or unmet expectations. Even something as simple as the need for an updated home study has the capacity to elicit defeatist attitudes from hopeful adoptive parents.

There is no question that the journey to adoption is a roller coaster full of ups and downs, but in the end, we believe the destination is well worth the ride. Definitely reach out to your community to support you during this often difficult time period. Or, come to PairTree and join one of our community groups or attend one of our Speaker Series by emailing!

single parent at the hospital with adopted baby

Step Seven: Educate Yourself as an Adopting Parent

The time between when you’re ready (home study approved) to adopt and when you’re holding your adoptee in your arms is an essential time to continue educating yourself. However, it’s important to note that education never ends! Adoptees and adopting families may have new questions arise every year and education is crucial to understanding how to navigate those together.

Adoption education should strengthen adopting families’ awareness and understanding through the use of expert-based, trauma-informed resources, lived experiences, community support, and training. Ultimately, every adopted child deserves a family who understands their unique strengths and challenges and is equipped to help them thrive.

Many adoption professionals charge fees (sometimes thousands of dollars) to educate families on adoption and require it as part of their approval process. That's why we partner with Creating a Family, and include unlimited education at no cost, to all of our families.

In addition to Creating a Family’s education, we have a wealth of resources here at PairTree.  If podcasts are your thing there are some incredible ones we recommend checking out, and the internet is home to TONS of adoption information (take some of it with a grain of salt and make sure you’re learning from people with lived experience!).

Creating a Family Introductory Courses:

Recommended PairTree Resources:

Our Favorite Books:

Our Favorite Podcasts:

Step Eight: Find Community as an Adopting Single Parent

The adoption process is a rollercoaster, to say the least - it’s full of really high highs, but also some low lows. It’s important to find a community on your adoption journey to not only lean on and support you but also learn from and listen to.

Find Your Village

Chatting with people who understand can be a huge comfort. You can talk to friends or family who’ve adopted, find a Facebook group that makes you feel heard, find an adoptive parent support group near you, or connect with other Hopeful Adoptive Parents at one of our PairTree support groups. Reach out to those who get it.

As you consider adoption, ask yourself these questions about your relationships with family and friends:

  • Do you have people you are close to whom you feel comfortable asking for help?
  • Are your friends and family supportive of your decision to parent alone?
  • How might your friends and family feel about the children you may adopt?
  • Will your friends and family accept your child if he or she is of a different race or from a different country and culture?
  • Will they be tolerant of your child’s need to learn a new language, overcome past trauma, and understand how to be part of a family?

Talk to friends and family about specific needs that might arise after you bring your child home. Share as much information as you can about your child with your existing support system, so that you get a sense of what they can and will help with and what additional support might be helpful. For example:

  • Who will help when you or your child is sick?
  • Who will answer a phone call in the middle of the night?
  • Who lives close by and can provide help at a moment’s notice, if needed? Is there someone you would trust to provide an overnight break or a weekend away?
  • Who could pick up your child from school, if you were stuck at work or in traffic?
  • Whom could you trust to act as guardian for your child, in the event of your death?
  • Who will participate in your efforts to expose your child to his or her cultural heritage if it is different from your own?

If answering these questions is difficult, you may need to strengthen or expand your support system before you adopt. Other adoptive and single-parent families can be a great source of mutual support or an occasional break.

Facebook Groups to join:

Find a support group near you:

Learn From Lived Experience

Adoption is difficult and being an adoptive parent can be really hard sometimes. You’re going to wonder all the time if you’re doing this right…questions, situations, and scenarios are going to pop up that you don’t know how to navigate.

That’s why it’s so important to build a community to learn from and listen to. Some of these accounts even offer 1:1 sessions you can book if you want to ask specific questions or advice. Learning from birth parents and adult adoptees, even before you adopt, can help you be better adoptive parents.

Some of our favorite birth parents and adult adoptees to follow are:

  • Ashley Mitchell (Birth Mom) - Big Tough Girl
  • April Guffey (Adoptee) - @Mercy.and.healing
  • Raquel McCloud (Birth Mom & Kinship Care) - @Mccloudlife
  • Adoption Education Keys (Birth Mom) - @adoptioneducationkeys
  • Angela Tucker (Transracial Adoptee) - @angieadoptee

Step Nine: Prepare Your Heart & Home

You’ve decided what adoption path is best for you, your home study is done and your profile is perfect…so now what? You just…wait? It might feel like that, but there is so much to do during “the wait” to prepare for the next season of life. Use this time to prepare not only your heart for adoption and becoming an adoptive parent, but also prepare your home for a new addition.

Understand the Hospital Experience

Welcoming a child into your home through adoption is different from having a baby, so use this time to learn about some of those differences and manage your expectations. One of the biggest differences, and challenges, for an adoptive parent is the hospital experience. Jess & Erin share their two perspectives on the hospital experience (and what hospital etiquette should look like) as a birth mom and an adoptive mom.

Our friend Valerie at New Parents Academy created a FREE workshop just for adoptive parents on preparing their home for a new baby. In 7 Things Adoptive Parents Learn the First Week Home with a Newborn, Valerie helps you get ready for the first week home with a baby and makes those first few weeks less intimidating.

Research & Consider Open Adoption

We have talked with hundreds of hopeful adoptive parents, and the scariest thing for most of them is open adoption. While you’re in this season of waiting, use this time to really educate yourselves on open adoption (FYI - open adoption is NOT co-parenting!), prepare your hearts for open adoption, and really reflect on what open adoption might look like for your family. Navigating Open Adoption might be intimidating, but it can become a beautiful relationship your adoptee will be grateful for.

Consider How Parenthood & Your Career Intersect

As you’re getting your home ready to bring home a baby, this is a good time to figure out exactly what your company’s leave policy is for adoption. Unfortunately, some companies still have different leave policies for bringing a child home via adoption…learning what your policy looks like ahead of time will help you be better prepared. If your company doesn’t offer adoption benefits or has a disproportionate leave policy, let us know! We love to educate companies on the importance of adoption benefits in the workplace!

As a single parent, it is likely that you will have a full-time job. Consider the hours you will spend working, commuting, and sleeping, as well as performing routine parenting responsibilities, such as preparing meals, doing housework, and helping with homework. Think, too, about your employer and the nature of your work. For example: ƒ

  • Do you consider your employer to be family-friendly?
  • Are family and medical leave available to you? Will you be able to take the time you need when you bring your child home?
  • Does your schedule allow for flexibility? Will you be able to leave at a moment’s notice if you get a call from your child’s school? Can you work from home when your child is sick?
  • What is your company’s policy regarding sick days and personal leave time? Are these days going to be enough to care for both your own and your child’s illnesses or emergency needs?
  • How much travel does your job require? Is travel optional or flexible? Will you be able to bring your child with you? Who will care for him or her while you are away?

Although every adoptive family is different, most single parents agree that the joy of bringing a child into their lives far outweighs the potential challenges of being a single parent. Millions of children are growing up healthy and happy in single-parent households, and yours can, too. What is most important is that you prepare, train, and build support to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home for your adopted child.

We hope this is useful! If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us at We love helping our families on their adoption journey, and are a resource to you anytime you need it!

PairTree PairTree is an adoption enablement platform that provides connections to the services families need to healthily navigate private adoption.