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Dating as single parent

Martyn April 5, 2021 19:08

Hi all. Does anyone here have experience of juggling their love life and raising a child as a single parent?

If successful with adoption, I'll likely just focus on the family home for a year. But chances are, my needs for adult companionship will kick in later down the line. Have you or someone you know had difficulty with getting out there with your new responsibility in tow?


Donatella April 5, 2021 22:33

Honestly? You’re going to need to focus on family life for a whole lot longer than a year. A year in you may still be in the honeymoon period or have exited it with a bump. Either way you and your potential child are very likely to struggle with introducing a potential partner/date/adult company!

Adult company is one thing ... dating and/or introducing new people into what will still be a fairly new, fragile family mightn’t be a good idea.

Practicalities? How physically will you manage to actually go out and leave your child? Who’ll look after him/her? How do you think you’ll find the time and energy? Where do you see your relationship with a child at 12 months?

I know lots of single adopters - I’m not one - some started out as singlies, others have become single when relationships break down due to the stress of caring for often very challenging children. I’m trying to think if any have managed to forge new relationships and truthfully very few have.

You may find that there will be a choice to be made for a good few years between raising a child and developing a relationship. Sorry but that is the reality. Traumatised children place a strain on even the longest term, previously secure relationships

Safia April 6, 2021 09:05

Donatella is right - and this is something that often used to come up with single adopters on the old forums (search the archives) - not from the point of view of how to date but that SWs were looking to be sure people didn’t have this in mind for the very reasons Donatella states above. Children who are placed for adoption have usually had many traumatic and often sudden changes and many losses - from one family to another even after they’ve been removed from their birth family - and as they don’t understand things as an adult would this makes them very insecure and it takes them a long time to trust that the new situation is permanent - it’s not just words but they need to feel it. Introducing someone else - who may not be there long term anyway - completely changes the dynamic and greatly increases their insecurity. Perhaps if you are still looking for a partner adoption is maybe not right for you at the moment. However the assessment process itself is a chance for you to learn more about the sorts of children needing homes and to find out whether it is right for you - through training, reading and self exploration. You could also consider counselling as another way to do this. Of course if it’s adult company in the form of friendships that include your child you are looking for you can look into support groups locally to where you live. If you have a school age child you will also get to know people through their school, clubs etc - this is something SWs will also ask you to look at - what schools and other opportunities there are in your local areas.

Edited 06/04/2021
Martyn April 6, 2021 09:22

Thanks Donatella and Safia. I'm in the early stages of research and don't intend to get the ball rolling for at least a year. So it's right that I ask here about potential "what ifs" (how else will I learn if I don't?).

But cheers for the heads-up 👍


Safia April 6, 2021 09:29

Exactly - that is exactly what you need to do - find out as much as you can first - but even when you apply it’s still possible to change your mind as that’s what the assessment is for. Do look at the archives on this site there is so much information there, read as much as you can and of course go on asking questions!

Donatella April 6, 2021 09:39

Absolutely, that is how you learn. I guess what we’re saying is don’t underestimate the time it’ll take for a child to settle with you. Easier with some then others but were talking years rather than months for a child to trust and to feel secured and safe. And that’s regardless of age. And often even things become easier they tend to get a whole lot harder again when school starts. That’s a whole new trauma.

SWs will want to know that the child has stability without new people coming in and maybe disappearing so do all your dating now ... you’ll be too knackered after!

Edited 06/04/2021
Martyn April 6, 2021 09:49

Awesome, thanks both. I'm actually looking to volunteer with kids in the foster care system. So I'm sure I'll get to grips with just how traumatised they are (the poor things). Thanks so much for your advice.


Donatella April 6, 2021 10:11

This is all stuff that you’ll cover in your home prep so you have time to decide whether adoption is right for you now or at some point in the future. Children in the care system will have experienced trauma - and that doesn’t start at birth but way before then. Genetics plays a big part, as does epigenics - two of my three are diagnosed with autism, one with adhd and they’re not birth siblings. Many come from families with a long history of social services involvement. Many will have been subjected to toxins during pregnancy - alcohol is particularly bad for a baby so it’s more complex than trauma. You’ll get to think about what level of disability you can cope with, what age you feel is the best fit, gender even. Read as much as you can - Sally Donovan, Sarah Naish, Dan Hughes, Bruce Perry are just a few to start with ... and good luck

Martyn April 6, 2021 10:55

This is great advice. Thanks Donatella 😊


Serrakunda27 April 6, 2021 11:15

As a single adopter nine years on, I still have neither the time, energy or inclination to worry about relationships.

I agree with everything Donatella and Safia said.

My social circle has expanded hugely since adopting, I’ve made some very close friends - adopters or people with children with additional needs, I’m not short of adult company if I want it. But as others have said, introducing new partners into the mix who might not actually be permanent, is another matter.

My son is nearly 17, I’ve been able to go out without sitters for a couple of years now. Before Covid I had just about resestablished my social life pre adoption - cinema, theatre, gigs pretty much when I wanted, but dating would still involve not so much sneaking around, but not being totally honest with him about where I was and who with.

I know lots of single adopters, I’m struggling to think of one who has started dating again.

Maybe it helps that I had been single for several years before adopting, and I’m now 56. Even when I was younger I never imagined dancing down the ailse in a white frock. Now I honestly can’t imagine sharing my space with a partner, at least not in any conventional way. Maybe I’ll meet someone in my 70s and we’ll have a geriatric romance!

Edited 06/04/2021
BB2011 April 6, 2021 21:25

My son has been home 5 years (he’s 9), and I’ve probably been out a handful of times without him - and very much paid for it through his behaviour afterwards! I had just got to the point before lockdown where I was thinking that saying yes when asked out on a date was a possibility (it would have been an early dinner and back to my boy though!), but then we went into lockdown and I decided on a second adoption instead, so I can’t tell you if it would have worked out - I doubt it though!

I do know of a few single adopters who have dated, and some are now settled in relationships, but it hasn’t been possible for the majority. In our adoption preparation classes we were told that we shouldn’t be looking to enter a relationship for 3 years. Obviously social services can’t hold you to that once the adoption is finalised, but I think it helped us to figure out our priorities. It didn’t bother me at all, but 2 other single prospective adopters left the process at that point.

Simon April 7, 2021 09:37

Hi Martyn

There is an Adoption UK members virtual meet-up next month, that might be helpful to you. Details below:

"Thursday 6th May at 11am Adoption UK - a coffee and a chat with Anita; adopting as a lone parent Join our Adoption UK staff members as they chat through their experiences of adoption and take questions from you, the members during this informal meeting." (I personally know Anita, she is an amazing adoptive mum)

This is the link to the members booking page on the Adoption UK website:

I am pretty sure there have been other Adoption UK webinars and virtual meet-ups dedicated to adoptive single parents. Why not give the Adoption UK Helpline a ring and find out: 0300 666 0006.

Hope this helps.

Take care


Martyn April 7, 2021 10:10

Thanks Simon. That's really helpful 😊



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