Of course, one of the practical reasons for why adoption is pursued mostly by married couples concerns its cost.  Adoption isn’t cheap, and unless you’re a single adult who’s independently wealthy, being married with access to another income can better address adoption’s pricetag.  However, if a single adult’s wealth comes from a high-intensity career that demands a considerable proportion of their attention, are they truly suited for the time-sapping rigors of parenthood?

To Look After Orphans In Their Distress

It’s at this point where some people might wonder if adding single adults into the pool of prospective adoptive parents denies married couples of better chances to get suitable children.  After all, if we can agree that two parents are better than one, isn’t inviting more singles to consider adoption straining the selection process?

To answer that question, first consider the reality that even though the number of singles in our society is increasing, the number of singles who are prime candidates to be adoptive parents will likely remain small.  Singlehood may be trending upward, but that doesn’t mean the reasons people are single also make them suitable candidates for adoption.  For example, we evangelicals shudder at the rise of births out of wedlock in our society, and those births mean that just because somebody’s single, that doesn’t mean they don’t have kids who need their care.

Yet consider another reality: that there’s no shortage of kids needing to be adopted.  Hard numbers showing how many children are waiting for adoptive parents don’t exist, either here in the United States, or internationally.  The reason for this largely involves the fact that many potential adoptive scenarios involve fluid birth-family dynamics.  And in various countries across the globe, the terminology we use for “adoption,” “orphan,” and “orphanages” doesn’t match local customs for determining when a child truly has no biological family support.

As far as foster care is concerned, at least here in the United States, government statistics for such programs show that the number of children waiting to be adopted has been declining, from 135,356 in 2006 to 104,236 in 2011.

But even in decline, each one of those numbers still represents a child needing a parent.  And if a single parent may not seem ideal to some people, some of these kids don’t appeal to adoptive parents, either.  Kids in foster care tend to possess their own set of personality disorders; either biological ones, or ones stemming from the ostracism they’ve developed knowing they’re parentless.  Then there are the kids with physical disabilities, who pose tremendous challenges for both a mom and a dad together.  Imagine what providing for their extraordinary needs would be like for a single parent.

Then there’s the issue of ordinary childcare.  If you’re single, you’re the sole breadwinner, which means you’ll likely be at work all day.  Sure, many two-income married couples send their kids to childcare, and maybe a similar arrangement is still better than leaving kids in foster care, but economic factors fall disproportionately against the prospective single parent.  One of the reasons our country’s social safety net is overburdened is because many single parents can’t afford to raise their biological children.  Love is indeed a wonderful thing, but it can’t pay the rent.

But it does all come down to love, doesn’t it?  We may not be married, but that doesn’t mean we singles don’t appreciate love, or don’t know how to demonstrate it.  Even if most of us are not in a position to adopt, increasing the dialog in our faith communities on the subject might help open up doors for kids who need parents – even just one – who will love them in a pattern reflective of God’s love for us.

After all, if we’re not looking at every method at our disposal to help meet the needs of orphans, what might that say about our faith?

From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.

Publication date: December 20, 2012