As options expand for single applicants hoping to adopt internationally, one single mom shares her story of opening her heart and home to a son from China.
“You know what, Mom?”
“I LOVE YOU!”
“I love you, too.”
This is a game my son and I play almost every day. And those are words that I thought I would never hear. I am single and in my 40’s, but ever since I could remember I had always wanted to be a mom. I was confused as to why God would place such a longing in my heart, but not have me married and having children. Then, a few years ago, God turned my heart toward adoption. At first I rebelled. Was I out of my mind? Being single and a busy career woman, I had my hands full managing my job, my home, volunteer work and a personal life. And, to be honest, I was a little selfish about giving it up. How in the world did I think I would be able to add a child to this…all by myself.
But once the seed of possibility was planted, the longing only got stronger. I talked with my pastor, my closest friends, my family (all of them live out of town), and carefully surveyed my support systems. As it turns out, I have several friends in my church family who have adopted, so I talked to them. Then, I took the plunge and called Holt International.
Fifteen months, a completed home study and a dossier later, I was traveling to China with my aunt to meet my 2-year-old son, Timothy, and bring him home. The trip to get my son was a wonderful experience and well supported by Holt staff. But the real adventures began when we arrived home.
My aunt stayed for a few days to help with my adjustment to motherhood, but she was tired and jet-lagged, too, and really needed to get back to her life. I could not have survived those initial weeks had it not been for the support of my closest friends and my church family. Before I went to China, they had arranged a ‘baby shower’ that included not just the usual gifts for a small child, but an organizational chart of meals, errand runners, diaper bringers and prayer support for the first several months after our return. My friends, respecting our initial need for bonding time, stood at the ready to provide the emotional support and encouragement that I needed to begin my motherhood experience. They would send emails, call, drop by briefly with a meal or help me recover from a meltdown. And, when we ventured out to a park, they would meet us there to play ‘separately, together.’
When it came time to return to work, and, truthfully long before that, I took stock of my work and non-work commitments. I cut back on work hours and disengaged from some non-work commitments to be available at home for my son. But there was also a balance. Just like couples need a date night on a regular basis to maintain a healthy relationship, singles need to intentionally maintain their important relationships, too, in order to stay emotionally healthy for their children. I schedule ‘mom’s night out’ with friends and have stayed involved in some volunteer church activities that have childcare provided. Sometimes the solutions are a bit more creative: my exercise class (once per week) has allowed my son to be their mascot so that I can stay involved in the fellowship of working out with them instead of slogging away in front of a TV or on the treadmill alone. Timothy takes great joy in being my personal trainer, sitting on my shoulders for squats or balancing on my back while I’m trying to hold a plank.
One of my big concerns in adopting as a single, especially if I got matched with a boy, was how to provide that fatherly influence and ‘boy time’ that he would need in his life. I am pretty rough and tumble, and while I can wrestle around on the floor and teach fishing or how to play with tools, it’s not the same as playing with other boys and having a man around as a positive influence — someone who can teach him how to be a gentleman. I have observed that boys of all ages, when they are together, speak a language of nonsense words, grunts, touches and gestures that we women don’t seem to have programed into our DNA. So, I intentionally recruit some of the guys in my life to spend time with my son on a regular basis: as sitters on mom’s night out or having my son hang with them while they are playing with their sons. Our church has recently recognized this as an important need for single parent families and is starting a ministry to address this and other needs of single parent families. Whether I have a son or a daughter, they need to be able to have that father figure contact. The same is true for guys who adopt who need to find a mother figure in their child’s lives.
So, a little less than 3 years after I first applied — and about 15 months into home life with my son — motherhood has been the most joy-filled, frustrating, challenging, unbelievable, surprising, roller coaster adventure of my life. Things have happened in my parenthood journey that I would never have imagined, but I wouldn’t change it for the world (as I type this article, my son currently has a pot on his head yelling, “Look mommy, I have a crown!”). As a matter of fact, I am getting ready to do it again.
My advice to singles considering adoption: take an honest survey of your life. See what changes you are willing to make, be sure you have a good emotional and social support system in place, find those people in your life who will provide the role model you can’t for your child, and then GO FOR IT!
Vicky Baker | Wausau, Wisconsin
Did you know that Holt has three adoption programs open to single female applicants? More and more mothers are beginning their adoption journey solo — and more and more children are thriving in the loving care of their adoptive moms! As a greater number of boys need families, many single moms are also opening their heart to a son. To read more about the countries open to single applicant adoptions and to see eligibility requirements, click here.