“If I’m not married by 35, I’m going to adopt.”

I remember the first time I heard one of my single friends say that phrase. I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. To be honest I did not know how to respond. The statement didn’t sit right but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I remember mumbling off a few inquisitive questions but they seemed to fall flat.

One of my favorite films growing up was The Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman and Robert Donate. The story is based on the life of English-born Gladys Aylward and her work as a missionary in China. While the movie is not exactly accurate, it does accurately show Gladys’ adoption of many orphan children as a single mother. Additionally she led over one hundred children through the mountains to safety during a Japanese attack on her beloved adopted-country. I have always looked up to women like Gladys with her fierce sense of justice, deep love, compassion and desire to fight for and protect so many lost and lonely children. Yet my respect and admiration for her seemed to contradict the uneasiness with my friends’ statements.

It has been a few months since the initial gut-punching statement. I now work for a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Each week, I read dozens of articles and reports, and watch training DVDs that discuss abortion, parenting and other related topics. And each week my thoughts on this popular trend of single women adoptions have become clearer. 

First, let’s start with the facts. I did some digging; here’s what I’ve found:

The National Institute of Health published a study entitled Does Father’s Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy? In short, their conclusion was a resounding “yes.” A “father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, even if other risk factors were present.” So not only does the absence of a father directly affect a daughter’s likelihood of engaging in early sexual activity, but the mere presence of a father can protect her from other contributing factors that might cause early sexual activity. A father then, seems to be a defense that stands between daughter and the onslaught of life. That doesn’t mean she will not experience any of the pain and sorrow that comes with growing up; but it does mean that she has a better chance of learning how to handle these changes and attacks if she has a father there to support her.

How about the boys though? Cynthia Harper of the University of California San Francisco and Sara McLanahan of Princeton University conducted a study entitled Father Absence and Youth Incarceration. The study centered on adolescent males from fatherless homes. “Results showed that children born to single mothers, who never had a father in the household, faced relatively higher incarceration odds than children who experienced disruptions later in childhood or adolescence.” [pg. 389] It doesn’t get much clearer than that if you ask me.

But there’s more: Website Modern-Mom published a short article in 2011 on the significance of Single-Parent Homes. Their article was based on the research of the Rochester Institute of Technology which found that “children of single parent homes are especially vulnerable to depression.” In addition, it was found that “childhood depression can lead to poor school performance, social withdrawal, chronic illnesses such as stomach aches and headaches, and thoughts of suicide.” Here’s a question: Is it loving to deliberately put a child in a position where they are more vulnerable to depression, social difficulties, physical illness and (here’s the real kicker for me) suicidal thoughts? (I’ll talk more on that later).

And one last bit on the statistics: The Hilltop, a student paper out of Howard University in Washington, D.C., published an article in 2003 combining the research of a Swedish study and an interview with a campus doctor/psychiatrist. The Swedish researchers found“children with single parents were twice as likely as the others to develop a psychiatric illness such as severe depression or schizophrenia. In addition, the researchers believed that children in single-parent homes were more prone to contemplating suicide and developing addictions to substances.”

Doctor and psychiatrist Hailey Parker confirmed these findings in observing that “single parents are more likely to spend less time with their child because of work and the stress of taking care of the child alone. As a result, the child may feel neglected and find comfort in other things.” I think that speaks for its self, but in case you missed it: psychiatric illness tendencies double, as well as instances of suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. Much of this is attributed to children feeling neglected because single parents, who are the sole-providers, feel more stress so they work more (certainly more than any one parent of two-parent homes) and thus have less time to spend with their children.

While I’m all about statistics, I know that the numbers can lie (my psychology professors always said “82% of statistics are made up on the spot.” Think about that for a second and enjoy a good laugh). So personal testimonies are important to me too; don’t just give me the numbers – show me.

On January 18th of this year, I received an email from LifesiteNews.com (no surprise there; I get one every day). What was surprising was what I found in an article entitled French Homosexuals Demonstrate Against Same-Sex Marriage. The article discussed the surprising presence of homosexuals who joined the traditional marriage stance and fought the legalization of homosexual marriages in France. Many practicing homosexuals spoke out against the marriage of homosexuals because of the effect it has on children. I think the point made by French mayor and acting homosexual, Jean-Marc, in regards to allowing homosexuals to adopt can be applied to singles adoption. He said “the rights of children trump the right to children”. 

The same article quotes humanitarian specialist Jean-Dominique Bunel, who was raised by homosexual women and is also against the legalization of homosexual marriages. The absence of a father was keenly felt by Bunel who said, in an interview with Le Figaro, a French magazine:  “[I] suffered from the lack of a father, a daily presence, a character and a properly masculine example, some counterweight to the relationship of my mother to her lover. I was aware of it at a very early age. I lived that absence of a father, experienced it, as an amputation."

Bunel was angered by the proposal of “institutionalizing a situation that had scarred me considerably...” and if the women were married, Bunel says, “I would have jumped into the fray and would have brought a complaint before the French state and before the European Court of Human Rights, for the violation of my right to a mom and a dad."

As a young woman without the presence of a father, I can identify with Jean-Marc and Brunel’s statements. All children have a God-given right to a mother and father. But not all men and women have a God-given right to a child.  If men and women were designed to reproduce on their own (that is produce children without the help of the opposite sex), then that would be one thing. But humans aren’t designed that way, and those of us who have been forced to live without the presence of a father keenly feel that absence.

There is a lot more I could say about statistics and other testimonies, but I’d like to switch gears and look at it from a personal standpoint. It’s the reason I felt like I’d been punched in the gut when my friend said “If I’m not married by 35, I’m going to adopt.” For now though let this mull-over in your mind:

Statistically speaking, daughters are more likely to engage in earlier sexual activity and sons are more likely to end up in jail. Both are more likely to experience difficulties with socializing, their academics suffer, and they are more prone to substance abuse and disorders such as schizophrenia, and depression and thoughts of suicide (remember: thoughts often lead to actions) are more likely to occur. Does this still sound like a good idea? One that is done lovingly and in the best interest of the child? 

To keep reading, click here.