Adopting on Your Own

reviewed by Katharine Swan

Adopting on Your Own

written by Lee Varon
published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

A few decades ago, adopting a child as a single parent was almost unheard of, not to mention very difficult. Having adopted her first child in 1984, Lee Varon knows firsthand the challenges that single adoptive parents face, both because of the changes in their lives and because of the prejudices that they face from adoption agencies and society at large.

After adopting her son, Varon went on to get her Ph.D. in clinical social work, and has worked with many prospective single parents over the years. Fourteen years after adopting her son, she decided to adopt again, and brought home a little girl from Russia. Varon’s book, Adopting on Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adopting as a Single Parent, is full of the wisdom she gleaned from two international adoptions, as well as years of working with prospective adoptive parents.

Recognizing the multifaceted needs of single adoptive parents, Varon has divided Adopting on Your Own into two major sections. The first part of the book deals with the emotional considerations singles face when adopting a child. Each chapter deals with a different issue, from making the decision to adopt to the impact your decision will have on you financially and emotionally. This first section is also set up to be interactive: each chapter features several exercises for prospective adoptive parents, meant to help them make decisions on whether to adopt and how to parent.

The second section of Adopting on Your Own deals with the how-to of adopting as a single parent. The chapters walk you through the different types of adoption, explain the costs, and prepare you for the home study, and helps you make decisions on what type of child you want to adopt. Varon tailors her advice to single parents, giving tips on choosing an adoption agency, handling the financial aspects of adoption and parenting, and other decisions that can be affected by one’s single status. Adopting on Your Own also addresses the issues that gays and lesbians face in pursuing adoption, whether in a relationship or on their own. Just as the first part of the book is an invaluable source of information and guidance on the emotional issues of deciding whether to adopt, the second part of the book is an important, step-by-step guide through the entire process of adopting as a single parent.

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