Single Parent Adoption (An Article from SP Magazine’s Issue 1 Volume 1)

Single Parent Adoption

Lucy Aponte

 

In 1977, as a single mother of three I ventured to adopt, unaware of the prejudices I faced as a single Latina woman. I was excited as I entered the NY agency for my interview. Introducing herself the worker led me towards the elevator. I wondered if my child was amongst the little children we passed in the halls and in the elevator. Little did I know, the worker had already decided I would not qualify to adopt.

So, after confidently answering the questions posed to me, I was told there were no children. The children I had seen, she claimed when I asked her, were not for adoption. I could not believe that in this huge building, there was not one child that needed a mother’s love. In fact thousands of children lived isolated, hidden deep within the bellies of such institutions; alone, unloved and parentless.

Confused and feeling inadequate, I left with tears in my eyes.  

 

It would be another year before I’d have the courage to try again. But, this time research led me to the New York Council on Adoptable Children.  At COAC I learned that my experience with the previous agency was commonplace for single parents wanting to adopt. I was relieved to learn from the counselor that there was nothing wrong with me.  They helped me through the process of looking and deciding what kind of child I could parent. Although I originally wanted a two year old, I was willing to take an older child. All children yearn for love and family and I had that to give.

 

Ten-year-old “Michael,” ironically lived under the supervision of the agency that had rejected my application. He had a severe developmental disability and did not speak. Experience with baby sitting my Downs Syndrome cousin gave me the confidence to meet such a challenge. Visits began, first at the institution and then weekends at home. When I’d visit Michael, other children grabbed me kissing my hand, hoping I would take them home. Michael would possessively lead me towards the door so we could leave. I detested going to that institution and after three months I insisted I was ready to take him home. The institution was reluctant and warned I’d be back with him within two weeks.

 

Michael came home on three psychotropic drugs to manage behavior. Most of his misbehavior was due to lack of basic social skills, because of low expectations by previous care-takers. We taught him to use the toilet, tie his shoe laces, eat with a spoon and fork and we all learned sign language, so he could communicate. With patience, consistency and training Michael acquired social skills that allowed him to integrate within the family and freed him from drug-induced immobilization and isolation.  

Weeks of shampooing uncovered Michael’s natural blond hair beneath the brown grime. For the first time, he had clothes that fit and that he didn’t have to share. Rather than gauze to hold his pants and to lace his shoes, he wore a belt and tied real laces. I wonder today, if the hospital is still waiting for his return.

 

 

Three years after Michael, we heard about 8 month old Daniel, a boarder baby. I knew I could care for a sick baby, I was a nurse. But, learning he was terminally ill stopped me dead in my tracks. I did not want a baby to die in my home. He’d go to an institution, as he was due for discharge. His doctors and my children convinced me he’d be better with us. So, after two months of visits Daniel came home. We would give him loads of love in his final month and lots of holding.

 

Daniel would never sit, stand, nor walk, predicted doctors. But, my fourteen year old daughter Kim, decided he would do so before he died. So, every day Kim exercised Daniel, strengthening his back, neck and abdominal muscles. She’d stand him on her feet to practice walking through the apartment. One month later, Daniel walked between Kim and me into the clinic, holding our hands. The doctors were excited and took him up to the intensive care unit for his nurses to see how he’d grown. They were thrilled to see him and passed him around. These visits became a must at each appointment. Daniel had countless emergency situations, hospitalizations and three near death experiences over the next 12 years. Yes, he survived that first month and today, he is a twenty seven year old young man, doing well. He came to be known as “The Miracle Baby” of Jacobi Hospital.

Single parent adoption is more common today but too many children are still waiting for their permanent family.

Contact COAC @ 212-475-0222 for adoption information.

October 26, 2008 at 8:24 PM Leave a comment

The Birth of SP (Single Parent / Step Parent)Magazine

A single mom since 1996, I struggled to find publications that contained editorial on being a single parent. For years I said to myself that if no one was going to do this, I would. But fear always took precedence. With no publishing background, I would take minor steps, I even bought a domain to start a website, but time and experience and fear would get in the way and eventually I would put it aside for a later date.

Fastfoward 9 years. In late 2005, I was laid off and thought to myself that it was a very good thing. I would finally research and start the magazine! But fear took over again and I decided I would stick to what I knew well and that was corporate computer training. But less than 2 years later I found myself struggling to find work. It took almost a year, and thousands of dollars in debt later, to finally get the courage to start the magazine. I had NOTHING to lose, literally. I was on the verge of losing everything because I had pretty much depleted my ‘debt income’ (my term for living off of my equity and credit cards) and was unable to pay bills.

In February 2008, I recruited help from networking events and a meetup group I started at meetup.com and found a production manager, one who had decades of experience in magazine layout, and a few writers. Salespeople are hard to come by so I set out to do sales myself. By the end of April I had enough sales to cover most of the printing costs so with the last credit card standing, I maxed it and sent out the finalized 16-page production to a printer and SP Magazine was born!

The week the magazine was born (it really felt like I gave birth) was a very good week because I also found work. Although I wanted to devote 100% of my time to this new child of mine, I new that I had to take care of my priorities in order to keep my son fed with a roof over his head.

Today I work full-time for a great organization that is getting me back on track with my bills. In the evenings and weekends, after I’ve spent quality time with my boy, I am working on the magazine and reinventing a plan for the publication to run smoothly next year. There will be one more issue in 2008 and it will be available in November. Thank you to all the volunteer writers and volunteer contributors that are helping to make this happen! And thank you to the subscribers that have faith in me and this magazine!

October 25, 2008 at 7:49 PM 3 comments

Raising a Teen – the early stages

I’ve entered what I like to call Phase 3 of Child Rearing. Phase 1 is from childbirth through 4 or 5 years old where everything is an adventure because life is grand and new, always learning and retaining.

Phase 2, through about age 11 or so, is when life tones downs a little, it’s not always fun and games due to the new responsibility of homework and a more regiment routine. My son had such a wonderful Phase 1 that even today, in Phase 3, he wishes to go back to a time where he didn’t have to worry about assignments and being mature (the latter he’s taking his time with).

Now we’re in Phase 3, which starts from about age 12 or 13 and, from what I hear (my son is 13), it lasts until about age 16. This phase is a detachment phase. Since my son was 1, it has pretty much been just the two of us. We’re very close to say the least. But in the past year I have unexpectly had more time for myself. I’ve learned from asking and reading books that, though he loves me very much (at times undeniably), I’m pretty much the last person he wants to do fun and exciting things with. If I compare my situation to other parents with young teenaged children, we’re doing a heck of a lot together but I’m preparing myself and accepting this phase, that my little boy is no longer little :(. As he enters this phase that will lead him to adulthood (phase 4), I wish him much wisdom and success with friends, education and new responsibilities.

Here’s to all the single mothers and fathers who I credit greatly on doing a heck of a job. Remember, we ALL make mistakes. So when life throws you lemons, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Pat yourself on the back for being two people in one, a mother and father (or vice versa, whichever you prefer :)!

October 22, 2008 at 2:01 PM Leave a comment

A Single Parent

I’m a single parent. When I read magazines I sometimes feel like nothing applies to me. Working Mother, Parenting, Child and other similar magazines don’t talk much about the single parent world. Dating is not a topic I would find there so I turn to Cosmopolitan and the likes but there are never any tips on dating when you have children. And what of the ‘step’ parent roles when a single parent does re-marry or dates someone for a long period of time. What role should the other adult play in the children’s lives?

With a full-time job, raising a child and maintaining a home, I sometimes feel I’m crazy to pursue this dream but for 12 years it’s all I’ve wanted to do, start a magazine for single parents because we are far from being alone. www.spmagazine.net is where someone can start in order to get more information. One issue was printed in the Spring of 2008 and the next issue will come out soon, hopefully with the help of a volunteer with InDesign experience. If you read this, say a prayer for me to make this a huge success! I could use all the help I can get, even if it’s spiritual.

In every issue, a story will be covered on one or more single fathers and single mothers from a variety of backgrounds (i.e. through divorce, never married, by choice, death of a spouse, same sex marriage, etc.), step parenting, going green, getting organized and more.

October 22, 2008 at 3:33 AM 1 comment

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