Encouragement for the Single Adoptive Mother: It doesn’t mean parenting alone.

Hi. My name is Deb Steiner and I’m a single mother.

These are the words I never expected to say, but sometimes God’s plans aren’t ours. Most of the time, actually.

I always knew I would adopt. Both of my brothers are adopted and biracial. So from an early age, I dreamed of having a big and multi-cultural family of biological and adopted kids, even requesting the black Sunshine family dolls when I was a kiddo.  But that wasn’t God’s plan for me, at least not yet.Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instead, I went to law school, zipped off into a career as a Federal Prosecutor and then became a lawyer with Big Law. While I’ve dated, some might say “a lot”, God hasn’t brought my husband. Yet. In my early thirties, my mentor and friend encouraged me to adopt; I called her crazy. The thought couldn’t have been further from my mind. I wanted children – sometimes desperately – but I didn’t think it made sense for me to adopt since I was single. Until I turned, well, about 36. Then God started speaking to me. Loudly. It was a bit of a scary time for me and rather than breathe a word to anyone (family included) I bought books and started reading. I read everything I could find about single adoption. There are some good, pragmatic, books, but nothing in the Christian literature section. (Hmm. I wonder who will resolve that 😉 )

I struggled with questions about whether God would want me to proceed in such a radical way. I wondered if my friends would think I was nuts. I asked myself how I would manage “alone.” I wondered if any man would pick me after doing something so “stupid.” In short, I asked myself every question under the sun. So when I let my family in on it (Christmas 2006) I was ready for all of their questions. They couldn’t ask me anything I hadn’t already asked myself. Even their hard questions…. been there.

So in 2007, I signed up for one of the required adoption education classes. You know, just to see how it would feel. Ha! By the end of March I had applied to adopt and by mid-summer, I was completely approved. My agency (Adoption Link in Oak Park, Illinois) started showing my profile to birth moms in August and just a short month later, Seth’s birth mom chose ME.

I want to press pause here because I think a common concern of singles is that, in the face of couples, why would a birth mom choose a single prospective mom? I don’t have the answer, but we cannot know the minds of anyone else, including pregnant mothers. Our birth mother (a young, African-American girl) was presented with married Caucasian couples, married African-American couples, and ME. She was adamant from the beginning that she wanted me. Her mom even challenged her and still, she wanted me. Anything is possible!

Six weeks after I was chosen, Seth was born. A complete and total blessing. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I knew Seth had issues — largely relating to his eyes. As it turns out, he has hypo-plastic optic nerves, nystagmus, strabismus, and a host of global developmental delays. This from my perfect no-drugs, no-alcohol, prenatal care from the get-go son. God certainly had different plans for me! Better plans….

And three and a half years later, God did it again. In the midst of pursuing a second domestic adoption, I met Leah on a mission trip to Uganda. And God spoke. “She is your daughter,” He said. Um, impossible. She’s HIV positive and I don’t “do” HIV positive. In fact, I had said as much. Repeatedly. Adamantly. Out loud. Even in the face of already having a special needs child, I said ,”No.” And God said, “Too bad.” Leah came home in November 2010 at two years old. A second blessing to this single mama.

I’m here to tell you single folks that you can do this too. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns (is any parenting?) but it’s so worth it. We have our share of hard days and pray for our husband/daddy all.the.time. But I don’t for one second regret the decision I made — with God’s council — to walk this road. In fact, I wish I had done it a lot younger! I don’t know what God has for us. Maybe I’ll be single forever. Or maybe not. Either way our family is God-made and we spend our days living for Him, just like our married friends.

Practically speaking, I’d encourage you not to think about doing it “alone.” I certainly don’t do it alone. I work full-time. My kids have teachers and Sunday school teachers and nannies and baby-sitters and grandparents and friends. It takes a village for sure and we have one. So do you. Just spend some time identifying who they are and go for it! Children around the world and here at home need YOU. And trust me when I tell you, you need them too. 😉

Last, you are not alone. There are increasing numbers of us to support you, pray for you and who GET IT. Here are just a few single moms…. all with different life journeys and all parenting alone: Me (www.chosen-1s.com); Lisa Bushman (http://little-did-i-know.blogspot.com/); Meredith Bowen  (on Facebook); Jenny Mo (http://mojennymo.blogspot.com); and Tracy Siler (www.silerhappenings.blogspot.com) (Names/blogs used with permission)

Deb Steiner is on the staff of Project HOPEFUL as our Single Parent Liaison. She is going on a mission trip to Uganda this summer. Follow her journey at http://andsoweserve.blogspot.com/

8 responses to “Encouragement for the Single Adoptive Mother: It doesn’t mean parenting alone.

  1. Very Inspiring! Thanks Deb, I think you rock!

  2. this is great, Deb! way to go!

  3. Interesting, I was right around 36 when the Lord starting speaking to me about adopting as a single. I’m in the process right now to adopt a little boy in Ethiopia. So encouraged to read your post. Thank you!

  4. Fabulous!! I will share this with my sister…waiting on her child from Ethiopia.

  5. This is great, Deb! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Geri Marshall

    What a beautiful and inspiring story. Thank You.

    From a new single mom, 63!!! I have a baby 3 years old.

  7. I am so happy that my family can help in a small way. I am the grandfather of two wonderful adopted Children Lilia Grace and Kaiser Yosef Adkins. My daughter Amy, and her husband Lee are very Blessed to have these two wonderful children that God has placed in our family. They enriched our family everyday and our prayer is that all of God’s children some day will have a home like our two do. God Bless you

  8. Donna Bemowski

    Inspiring Deb!! This gives me hope for myself. I have been pursueing adoption since I was 38. I have consider many adoption plan. I feel God is calling to adopt a child from Haiti. Thanks for sharing your story!!

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