EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the latest installment of The Single Life, a monthly column written specifically for singles.

Some years ago I attended a play called The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged). At one point audience participation was required; my section was assigned the part Ophelia. Our orders were to shout on cue, “Cut the cr**, Hamlet. My biological clock is ticking and I want babies NOW!”

I guess you had to be there. The point is, the desire to have a child can be almost overwhelming. But if you’re single and don’t feel ‘making babies’ outside of marriage is appropriate behavior, how do you deal with the longing to be a parent? These days, more and more singles are smacking the alarm button on their biological clocks by creating families through adoption.

Adoption—even adoption by a single parent—is nothing new.Can you name an example from the Bible? There’s at least one! (Answer found at the end of this article, but no fair reading ahead.)

Why would someone choose to become a single parent? Probably for the same reasons a couple chooses to adopt: they believe they have what it takes to be a good parent and want to give a child a loving home. As one single mom put it, “I couldn't give up this desire to be a mother. Not necessarily to give birth to children, but to be a mother to a child who needed one . . . so I decided to adopt.”

There was a time when adoption by singles just “wasn’t done” but those days are over. Some sources estimate that more than 50 percent of all children will be in a single parent family at some point in their lives, so single parenting as a whole is much more commonplace than it used to be. These days, per the Web site adoption.com “approximately 25 percent of the adoptions of children with special needs are by single men and women, and it is estimated that about 5 percent of all other adoptions are by single people.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 33 percent of children adopted from foster care are adopted by a single parent (U.S. DHHS, 2000). So while the process may not be easy, it is definitely possible.

The Decision

Taking on responsibility for another human being is a big decision and not one to be made lightly. There are so many things to consider: Can I afford to support a family? Private or public adoption? What will I do about daycare? What’s my real motivation for wanting a child? How will I handle emergencies? Am I set on a local child or would an international adoption be better? What happens if I get sick? Do I have enough of a support system in place? And so on . . .

Of course, the biggest, most important question of all is this one: Is this what God wants me to do? (And its corollary, “Is this what God wants me to do now?”)

Single parents are often encouraged to choose “less desirable” children, i.e. those with special needs, older kids, or sibling groups. Adoption Resources of Wisconsin notes “It’s ironic how the most needy children are paired with singles, when these more difficult kids could benefit from having two (or more!) parents to meet their needs.” As with any major decision, it’s wise to count the cost—emotional, physical, and financial—up front. But before you pass on one of these “special” kids, consider what a huge difference you can make in that child’s life. (Not to mention what a difference they’ll make in yours!) As many a parent will tell you, the blessings far outweigh the burdens.