Single Adopters Group going from strength to strength

Single adopter having her long red hair pulled up either side by her son

We re-launched our quarterly single adopters peer support group in December last year with a pre-Christmas evening Zoom session, where hot chocolate and pj’s were welcome – but not compulsory! We knew it would be a busy week for folk but wanted to provide an opportunity for single adopters to share their joys and frustrations of solo parenting, generally and also in the festive season – when there seems no end to the present buying and gift wrapping.

All welcome

Single adopters from all the Edinburgh agencies and Edinburgh Local Authority were/are very welcome to attend and we had a small but perfectly formed session, which my colleague Emma and I really enjoyed facilitating.

Benefits of being a single adopter

As someone who has always been a single parent, this group is close to my heart. There are many books and articles written about single parenting, but in my experience most are about becoming a single parent after a separation, rather than starting your parenting journey solo. In terms of adopting as a single parent, a lot is written about the challenges of this but less about the potential benefits, so here is a short list of some that come to mind (from both my personal and professional experiences) :

1. Many adopted children have come from single parent birth families and some from single parent foster families, so this is the kind of family set up they are used to.

2. Some children find it very hard to attach to two adults/parents and easier to attach to one main caregiver. Single adopter father and son

3. Some children have had very damaged relationships with a ‘mother’ or ‘father’ (figure) and so their social worker may prefer to avoid an attempt at repairing that role at the time when they are moving to a new family.

4. Single parents can offer their child/children undivided attention, creating a strong bond and unique connection.

5. Single parents do not have to put the time and energy into maintaining a close personal relationship with a partner.

6. Carrying the weight of all the decision making can have an upside because there’s no need to compromise on differing parenting beliefs/methods.

7. Single parents may have less money, but they are also the sole deciders on how and when to spend money.

8. Single parents often have many supporters: friends/family/organisations, which can give their children a good sense of community.

9. Children raised by single parents can grow up to see themselves as ‘part of the team’ which can help build their co-operation skills.

I’m sure there are many more but there’s no doubt that it can also be a tough gig at times!

Some useful advice from single parents that I’ve read has included:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Even if you are used to relying primarily on yourself and not needing help, that will change when you have a child because at times there will need to be more than just you.

Be clear about what you need Single adopter mum with arm around teenage daughter

We often turn down offers of help because they aren’t quite what we need. For example, a friend or family member noticing that you are tired and going a little stir crazy at home and offering to look after your child for you is lovely, but frustrating when you can’t take them up on this because you are funnelling and can’t leave your child yet. It’s not easy to say ‘thanks so much for offering to help, I can’t leave my child with anyone else just now, but it would be amazing if you could pick up a parcel/shopping/do some laundry for me and drop it off/ clean my flat while we are out at the park.” If you do ask, you won’t regret it, and your friends and family will probably be delighted to have been of some use and feel included.

Try and link in with other single parents

They are the people who really understand what it’s like when it’s 3 am and your child is poorly and won’t sleep and all you want is a cup of tea but you’ve run out of milk (and Calpol) and can’t ask a partner to go to the 24hour supermarket to get some! It’s also great for your child to know other children in a family set up like theirs.

Use blogs and podcasts

Blogs and podcasts from single adopters are also a good way of linking in and feeling less alone.

Look for role models

Consciously look within your network for a good opposite-gender role model for your child.

Remember your self-care Man reading a book

Work out ways to practise self-care that fit in with your constraints and try to notice when you need topping up. For example, if you used to do this by running every day outside and can’t do that at the moment, consider a running machine in the house.

I’m more of a good book and bar of chocolate self-care person but whatever works for you!

Please do let other folk know about our Single Adopters Group as we would love for more of you to join us. So far our single adopters group has been female-dominated so we would really love to get some single dads along too. Please check the Events tab on our website and social media channels for the next Single Adopters Group or email and we’ll get back to you.


Julie Arbuckle

Senior Practitioner