CLEVELAND (AP) - Across Ohio, an increasing number of single parents are choosing to adopt children rather than wait around for the right partner to come along.
In Cuyahoga County, almost half the people who adopted last year were single. Other counties in Ohio, especially those with large cities, had similar percentages.
Single-parent adoptions have jumped from less than 5 percent of all adoptions from public agencies in the 1970s to 33 percent in 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The increase is largely due to a more liberal attitude toward single parenting that began in the 1980s, social workers and adoption researchers say. Foster parents became eligible to adopt children in their care and the government offered subsidies to some adoptive parents.
As more couples divorced and out-of-wedlock births increased, many private adoption agencies that had previously focused on couples became more open to single applicants.
Critics argue that children are better off in two-parent homes, but social workers say allowing single parents to adopt is better than leaving the children in foster care. More than 3,000 children in Ohio are waiting to be adopted.
"Even though we may think a child needs to be in a two-parent home, if we find a home with someone who loves them and meets all their needs, that's all we can ask for," said Duran Williams, an adoption specialist for the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services.
Adoptive parents must pass a background check, and social workers inspect their homes and ask about finances and mental and physical health. Single people are also questioned in detail about child-care plans, family or friends and intimate relationships before they get licensed.