One+one makes a family
Growing numbers of single American women are adopting children in the US and abroad.
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Although acceptance of solo adoption is growing, many women still face criticism. "There are always objections to single adoptions on ... grounds that children should have two parents of opposite genders," says Hope Marindin, retired director of the National Council for Single Adoptive Parents in Washington. "Ideally, that is the best thing."Skip to next paragraph
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But when that is not possible, relatives and friends often show heartwarming support. Julie Asfahl, a marketing consultant with IBM in Boston who is adopting a baby girl from Kazakhstan, describes her family as "thrilled."
Among dozens of people Ms. Asfahl has told, only one or two have questioned it. "People say, 'It's going to change your life for the next 20 years.' I say, 'Not 20 years, for the rest of my life. Good! I've lived my whole life for myself.' "
In both domestic and international adoptions, specialists caution that prospective parents should be clear about what they can accept in terms of a child's race, disabilities, and medically correctable conditions. Says Krissi Bates of Worldadopt.org, "You have to be really honest with yourself about what is OK and what is not OK."
For Elli Holman of Holliston, Mass., single motherhood began with an in-vitro pregnancy and the birth of a daughter, Jessica, now 5. Two years ago, when she was over 40, she adopted a 7-month-old girl from Romania.
Outsiders have been more accepting of Ms. Holman's adoption than they were of her pregnancy. "People are just shocked when you say you're going to go out and have your own baby, as opposed to adopting, which seems to be more natural," she says.
Joan Nicholson of Ojai, Calif., traveled to India in the fall of 2000 to adopt a daughter, Sarita, now 11. Although she had thought about adoption since high school, she says she "couldn't orchestrate it" until decades later. Now, she adds with a laugh, "I'm an exhausted 65."
"It's been glorious to have a child in my life, to see her grow and develop," Ms. Nicholson continues. She describes her daughter as "enormously bright, a natural dancer, a natural comedian, and a budding basketball star." But she is also "very intense."
Speaking of the adoption, Nicholson says, "Two-thirds of it has been joyful. One-third of it has been very arduous."
Joyful and arduous go with the territory of all child-rearing, of course, and these adoptive mothers are quick to emphasize the joys.
"I'd do it again in a second," Bowden says.
Becker agrees. Referring to Ethan, who is now 6, she says, "So many lives are enriched as a result of him coming. I really think he's given me more than I have ever given him. It's not a one-way thing. He's a very special child."
For any single woman considering adoption, Melissa Ludtke, author of "On Our Own," suggests a "reality check." She says: "I'd ask [the prospective mother] about community supports and family supports. Has she ever gone out and priced quality day care, whatever she can afford? Also look into after-school care."
Holman, the mother of two, offers this advice: "Really make sure you can handle it both from a financial and an emotional aspect before you start. You have to be sure you have your backups, and you have to be able to do it yourself. It's the most rewarding thing you'll ever do, but it's also almost the hardest thing you'll ever do."