Vol. 9, No. 1• November 2004

Facts About Single Adoptive Parents

How many singles seek to adopt?

  • Research in the 1970s found that an estimated .5% to 4% of persons completing adoptions were single. Studies in the 1980s found from 8% to 34% of adopters were single (Stolley, 1993).
  • Across the country the number of single parent placements slowly and steadily continues to increase, both in domestic and intercountry adoption (Feigelman & Silverman, 1993).

Who are they?

  • Most single adoptive parents are female, are most likely to adopt older children than infants, and are less likely to have been a foster parent to the adopted child (Stolley, 1993).
  • Single parent applicants are self-selective. Most applicants have high levels of emotional maturity and high capacity to handle frustration, and are independent but linked to a supportive network of relatives (Branham, 1970).
  • As a group, the single parent adopters of U.S. children tended to adopt “special needs” children who were older, minority, and/or handicapped children (Feigelman & Silverman, 1993).

What research has been conducted?

  • In a study undertaken by the Los Angeles Department of Adoptions, researchers found that single parents tended to have more difficulties in completing their adoptions. Thirty-nine percent had made three or more previous attempts to adopt, compared to only 18% among the couples (Feigelman & Silverman, 1993).
  • In 1983, Feigelman and Silverman recontacted 60% of the single-parent respondents from their earlier study in 1977. Six years after the initial study, the adjustment of children raised by single parents remained similar to that of children raised by adoptive couples (Groze & Rosenthal, 1991).
  • Groze and Rosenthal conducted a study that reports on the responses from parents in three Midwestern states who had finalized their adoption of a special-needs child before 1988. The sample included 122 single-parents and 651 two-parents families. Researchers found that comparisons of single-parent homes to two-parent homes showed that children in single-parent families experienced fewer problems (Groze & Rosenthal, 1991).
  • In the same study, research found that single-parent families were more likely than two-parent families to evaluate the adoption’s impact as being very positive (Groze & Rosenthal, 1991).


Branham, E. (1970). One-parent adoptions. Children, 17(3), 103-107.

Feigelman, W. & Silverman, A. (1998). Single parent adoption. In: The Handbook for Single Adoptive Parents, Chevy Chase, MD: National Council for Single Adoptive Parents. 123-129.

Groze, V. K. & Rosenthal, J.A. (1991). Single parents and their adopted children: a psychosocial analysis. The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 130-139.

Stolley, K. S. (1993). Statistics on adoption in the United States. The Future of Children: Adoption, 3(1), 26-42.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/

Copyright 2004 Jordan Institute for Families