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December 02, 1988 - Image 139

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-02

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Some singles find adopting is the
best way to achieve parenthood

Sheila Hughes finds that life with Gabriela has changed her own lifestyle.


Special 7b The Jewish News


plaque hangs on the living-
room hearth of Sheila
Hughes' cozy Dearborn
bungalow. It reads: "Prayer
for a Single Parent."
Hughes, a 46-year-old attorney,
didn't take the traditional route to
single motherhood — custody via
divorce or artificial insemination. She
is one of a growing number of profes-
sional women in their late 30's and
early 40's, settled financially and in
their careers, who find themselves
still single and wanting children.
After examining her options and
desires, Hughes spent two years pur-
suing adoption. In June 1987, she
flew to Guatemala to bring home her
new daughter, Gabriela.

Adoption is a lengthy and cumber-
some process. The demand for healthy
white infants far exceeds the number
available. Since more adopting
couples want a baby, the average wait
for one is five years. If a single wants

Bob McKeown

to adopt, he or she will likely have to

wait in line behind qualified couples.
In addition, there is bureaucracy.
Some adoption agencies resist accept-
ing applications from singles or have
to refuse them outright. Eleanor
Keys, a supervisor at Jewish Family
Service in Southfield, says their agen-
cy has to follow basic guidelines set
by its board of directors. Those rules
are: only "Jewish couples — a hus-
band and wife . . . not able to have
children of their own and do not
already have children of their own."
There is also the perception on the
part of the biological mother that a
two-parent home is superior to a
single-parent home. Cathy Eisenberg
co-founded Child and Parent Services,
a Birmingham adoption agency that
heavily involves the natural mother
in the adoption process. She doesn't
deny it's harder for a single to adopt.
"We will look at a single person. Ob-
viously, they don't meet our marriage
qualification. The birth mother has to
be satisfied. They're mostly young,
single women interested in a superior
"They're releasing out of necessi-

S ingles
A o fio n

ty . . . and what they're looking for is
a secure two-parent family. If it's a
single woman earning the money,
who is the care giver? Why adopt a
child if somebody else is going to raise
the child?"
In spite of the pitfalls, single peo-
ple can legally adopt in the United
States, though many of the children
available to them are considered
special needs children. While it is dif-
ficult to adopt, especially an infant,
it is not impossible. One option is
foreign adoption, as Hughes did. The
opportunity for a baby was greater,
but certainly no less complex. Foreign
countries don't like to give away their
children and those countries who will
let singles adopt keep changing the
rules. "People seem to think with a
foreign adoption, there's no red tape,"
says Hughes. "You have to satisfy
home and host country. They do all
kinds of background checks, ask for
letters of reference and you have to
get embassy approval." Hughes also
had to fly to Guatemala to adopt
Gabriela, who was five months old
when she brought her home.
Adoption takes, on average, two

years of research and planning,
money, time and energy, plus the
lifelong commitment. What prompts
a single woman to actively pursue
adoption and single motherhood? The
women who have gone through the
process feel it's worth the struggle,
that it's not an act of desperation, as
some may think, but one of strong
desire. Part of the motivation is the
"biological clock." Ann Arbor
psychologist Sylvia Gordon had been
married and had even attempted ar-
tificial insemination. Gordon, 44, said
she felt she was missing out on one
of life's great joys. She is now the
mother of eight-month-old Jenny,
whom she adopted in Peru. "I wanted
more in my life . . . I felt I was miss-
ing one of the most important ex-
periences in life to raise children!'
"The maternal instinct set in!'
says 38-year-old Joanne Smith.
Smith, a court reporter who lives in
Rosedale Park, remembers the day
she decided to pursue adoption. A
friend of hers who had adopted came
into work and said, 'I'm getting a
baby: and I saw the picture and
something hit me. That kind of sur-



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