Discrimination of Single Adults in the Adoption Process: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Introduction Even though it is legal in all 50 states for a single adult to adopt a child, there is still a negative attitude on placing adoptee children with single adults in the adoption process. This problem exists due to the fact that millions of children remain in the adoption system waiting to be adopted, despite the fact that there are numerous suitable single adults wanting to adopt these children. Since the adoption process is made more difficult for single adults due to discrimination, many children remain without a home. There are a large amount of willing single adults in the U.S. that are more than willing to adopt, love and care for the unwanted children in the adoption system. The adoption process is made more difficult for single adults because there is still the common belief that "two heads are better than one", and that children need to be placed in two parent homes rather than with single adults. If more children in the adoption system can be placed with eligible and loving single adults, then they will have a better chance of having a more stable and successful life. The discrimination that single parents experience when attempting to adopt an unwanted child requires multiple perspectives in order to be fully discussed. The reason that this is an interdisciplinary problem is because the discrimination of single adults in the adoption process is "too broad and complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession (Repko, 2005). The unwanted children in the adoption system are a huge societal problem that needs to be addressed. It is especially a problem when there a people out there that want to take care of these children. An interdisciplinary approach also needs to be taken because there is not one area or subject that can provide a sufficient solution to this social problem. The first discipline that will give us a better understanding of this complex social problem would be the Sociology. According to the Journal of the American Planning Association, the structure of family has changed over the last 40 years due to several factors such as, the rising divorce rate, the increase in cohabitating couples and rising unemployment rates. The nuclear family is no longer the norm and many families are headed by single parents. These factors alone should make the adoption process fair and more acceptable when it comes to single adult homes versus two-parent homes. The next discipline that can give us a better perspective on the discrimination of single adults in the adoption process would be Economics. If single adults were considered as equal as two parent families in the adoption process then more children can be put into more homes and the financial burden on the state will be greatly reduced. According to the U.S. Department of Labor it is estimated that it cost $124,000- $170,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18 depending on the child. According to the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), as of 1997 about 100,000 children were in need of a home. That is approximately 2 billion dollars that the government has to pay to care for these unwanted children. If more single adults were allowed to adopt, then that cost can be greatly reduced. The third discipline that will help in addressing this problem will be Psychology. Children in need of adoption will have a better chance of psychologically wellbeing if they are out in a stable home, even if it is the home of a single adult, rather than them staying in the foster care system waiting on a two-parent home. There is this common belief that "two heads are better than one" when it comes to raising a child, but that may not necessarily be true. A child may have just as equal as a chance of psychological wellbeing in a single adult home as they would in a two-parent home. Since the very beginning with the very first adoption laws, there have been laws in most states that allow single parents to adopt according to the American Adoption Project. With single parents being eligible to adopt legally there was a negative attitude geared towards single adults in the adoption process especially at the beginning of the twentieth century. During this time period it was stigmatic to be a single parent whether the child was born out of wedlock or if a single adult was attempting to adopt. According to The Adoption History Project it wasn't until 1965 that the Los Angeles Bureau of Adoptions made the first organized effort to enlist single parents to adopt children. (www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/topics/singleparentadoptions.htm). Also according to The Adoption History Project, not only has adoption by single adults has been a growing trend since the 1970's but approximately one-third of children adopted from the public foster care system and one-quarter of all children with special needs are adopted by single individuals today, but many fewer single adults adopt fewer singles adopt healthy infants domestically or internationally. The purpose of this paper is to bring to light the ongoing bias that occurs against the numerous amounts of single adults pursuing adoption and hopefully bring an end to the bias against the single adults who want to nurture and provide a loving home for the unwanted children in the foster care system. With 89.6 million singles heading over half of America's households, according to the 2006 US Census, there should be more have just as equal of an opportunity to adopt a child in need of a home as anyone else.
Background Discrimination of single adults in the adoption process has a negative impact not only on the children that are in dire need of stable and loving homes, but discrimination of single adults in the adoption process also has a negative impact on the single, potential parents that are ready and willing to provide a home for children that are unwanted by the rest of society. The problem with discriminating against single adults in the adoption process not only alienates a major population in America, but the children in need have a decreased chance at a stable home and end up waiting in the system if no one else adopts them. As of 2005 there were over 513,000 children in the U.S. that were in some form of foster care. Of those 513,000 children that were in foster care, 114,000, over half being male, were waiting to be adopted; meaning the parental rights of their biological parents had been terminated. Almost 700 of these children were runaways, and the rest were divided amongst government institutions, and foster homes. 23% of the children that were waiting to be adopted had been waiting in the foster care system since they were infants. (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, 2005) With two-parent homes being the preference for an adoptee rather over single parents, many of these children age out of the adoption system without ever being placed in a permanent home. Nearly 20,000 children each year "aged out" of the foster care system or become a legal adults when they turn 18 and are no longer in the care of the foster care system. With these children coming from abusive families, without knowing where they came from at all or without the stability that they need as a child, they can end up becoming unstable adults which can have a negative impact on society. They may not get the help that they need to overcome their unfortunate circumstance, and therefore more likely not to experience stable adulthood also. According to a study conducted on foster children aged out of the system, Aging Out of the Foster Care System: Challenges and Opportunities for the State of Michigan: Young adults out of foster care are 51 percent more likely to be unemployed, 27 percent more likely to be incarcerated, and 42 percent more likely to be teenage parents, and 25 percent more likely to be homeless. Within four years, 60 percent of them will have had a child (Anderson, 2003) With the rising numbers of children in the foster care system, the problem of youth ageing out of the system and not succeeding in life will only become worse if nothing is done about it (Anderson, 2003). With them being at a disadvantage during childhood and growing up to a disadvantage in adulthood, these factors can a huge negative impact on society. They may need to be placed on welfare due their higher chance of being unemployed, which will cost the government and taxpayers even more money in addition to the cost of raising them as children. It also cost money to have them in prison, and support them if they become teenage parents. Making the adoption process fair for single adults increases the likelihood of giving more children in foster care a better childhood, a chance at a successful adulthood, and easing the financial burden on the U.S. Government and its taxpayers. Giving qualified single adults the opportunity to give these children a better future and loving home and have a positive impact on all of society. With more stable adults coming from stable homes, this decreases the chances of unemployment, teenage pregnancy, and imprisonment. Imagine growing up in an abusive household or being given up as a baby and not knowing where you came from and being placed in foster care or adoption facility. You may be placed in and out of different foster families throughout your life, but never the permanent and loving home that you need. Some of the foster families you have lived with may have been sufficient, other foster homes have had abusive foster parents, or other children in their care may have abused you also. You eventually turn 18, a legal adult, and are told to gather all of your belongings so that you can leave. Imagine being forced out of the only home you knew, without knowing a stable home or being taught the basic skills of surviving in the everyday world. This process happens to over 20,000 adults coming out of the foster care system all over the U.S. It is often wondered why these single adults would want to tie themselves down with children, let alone someone else's child. It is also wondered why risk adopting a child that comes from an abusive home and has a risk of mental health problems, or why go through with the difficult process as a single adult by competing with two-parent families to adopt a child. Single adults may be single by no fault of their own or they may choose to be single by choice. Either way, a single adult have the same needs and urges to nurture a child so they pursue parenthood just like any other adult. Single adults that pursue adoption want to love and provide a home for the unwanted children in foster care, even the ones with special needs. It is estimated that 25% of the adoption of children with special needs, are adopted by single adults (Prowler, 1990). Not only do single adults have to endure negativity to adopt a child from adoption agencies, they may endure criticism from the people that are closest to them. Family and friends of these single adults that are attempting to adopt can be discouraging by telling them to get married first or by telling them that they cannot raise a child on their own. For many singles, family and friends maybe the biggest obstacle that you have to overcome before even beginning adoption procedures (Prowler, 1990). She also states that single men may have it even tougher when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Their motives are highly questioned and they may get asked intimate questions about their sexuality and their reasoning behind wanting to adopt a child as a single man. The disciplines that are used to explain this complex, real world problem are Sociology, Economics, and Psychology. Sociology is one of the most important disciplines that will be used to address the problem of discrimination of single adults in the adoption process because the family structure in America has drastically changed the this discipline helps to address this fact. Sociology not only deals with the individual, it deals with family structure also. The next discipline that is used to address this complex issue would be Economics. Not allowing eligible single adults adopt fairly is hurting the American society financially, and the Economic discipline helps to address this issue. Sociology and Economics are discussed first because they are the more important of all three of the disciplines that are discussed and they have the biggest impact on the groups that are being discussed. Although Sociology and Economics are the more important disciplines, the complex problem of the discrimination of single adults in the adoption process cannot be fully addressed without discussing the discipline of Psychology, which discusses the mental well-being of the children that are in the foster care system. In order to have a better understanding of the complex issue of discrimination of single adults in the adoption process, we must be able to make use of the interdisciplinary process in order to have a good understanding of this issue. For this interdisciplinary problem , of the different models that can be used to address the problem, the comprehensive model will be used by giving the information, facts, and conclusion from each discipline in order to fully address the complex problem of discrimination against single adults in the adoption process (Repko, 2005).
References U.S. Singles: The New Nuclear Family. (2007, May 30). Marketing Charts. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from http://www.marketingcharts.com/television/us-singles-the-new-nuclear-family-490. Ellewood, D. (1993). The Changing Structure of American Families. Journal of the American Planning Association (27) 1, 45-47. Retrieved February 14, 2007, from Academic Search Complete Database. Economics Anderson, G. (2003) Aging Out of the Foster Care System: Challenges and Opportunities for the State of Michigan. http://www.ippsr.msu.edu/Publications/ARFosterCare.pdf. Psychology Additional Sources Repko, A. (2005). Interdisciplinary Practice: A Student Guide to Research and Writing. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing. Prowler, M (1990). Single Parent Adoption: What You Need to Know. National Adoption Center. Retrieved January 26, 2008, http://library.adoption.com/single-parent- Adoption. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System. (2005) The AFCARS Report. www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.