Should A Single Person Have A Kid On Purpose

This fall as I was helping to teach a four week course on singleness at our church (note, Way to go church!), we got asked a question that I had never thought about before.  And believe me I’ve thought about a lot of angles on this thing the last few years.

The question was essentially this: “Should/can single people adopt children? And what about artificial insemination?”

To be honest I was not ready for the question.  There were two thoughts that came immediately to my mind that made me want to lean yes.  First, let’s be honest, there are a lot of kids that are in really bad situations.  In fact, in our current culture, more women have their first kid out of wedlock than in it.  Would it really be worse for them to be with a good Christian single parent?  Really?

Secondly, there are a lot of women, and many men who desperately want to have kids.  I believe this is biological as well as spiritual desire.  Heck, we are supposed to go and multiply.  That’s one of the first commands of the bible.  It’s natural to want to do that. We’ve of course completely separated this from sex (which we’ve already separated from marriage) in our culture.  But that doesn’t make the base desire bad.

But after thinking about it more, I have big reservations.

The first big question we’d better ask ourselves is what are our motives?  In other words why is it that you want to be a parent?  While it’s great to have that desire, it’s really not about you.  It’s not about meeting some sort of emotional desire or fulfilling a dream you’ve had of your lineage going forward.  It’s about sacrifice and love.  You will be the number one influence (good or bad) on that person’s life.  That is not to be done out of some sort of personal need.

Secondly we need to understand that there is an order to things. We’ve kind of been sold in our culture that we can skip parts of the order.  Go ahead and have sex without being married.  Live together before you get married.  So why not go ahead and be a parent.  I can’t find someone to marry, or maybe I don’t even want to do the “spouse” thing, but I want to have a kid.  Why not just go for it?

But this is flawed thinking.  And it’s made worse by the idea that we can do what we want by ourselves.  In other words, the whole “I don’t need a man/woman” mentality.  But to be married and have a kid the right way, you actually do.  That’s part of the deal.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  It’s one thing to have messed up the order by sinning and have a kid as a result, it’s another to go out and create it on purpose.

Third it’s either better for a child to have both of his parents or it’s not. Most people believe that a stable two parent home where both people are married is the best place for a kid to be.  Now that doesn’t mean that if a kid doesn’t have it that he can’t do well.  If that was true we’d be in real trouble as most kids don’t have that these days.  But just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.  The truth is that the number one thing you can do as a parent is love your spouse.  That comes first.  Kids know.

So what does all this mean practically when answering the question?

I understand there are strong emotions involved here, but here’s what I think.

I think under no circumstance should you as a single person go out and on purpose get pregnant artificially or any other way.  This to me is the most clear answer.  Choosing to go out and get pregnant and bring a kid into the world with only one parent is wrong.  To me that’s about you, not about what’s best.  That’s choosing on purpose to bring a kid into a single parent home.

What’s less clear is the adoption question.  I think that you could make a strong case for adopting an older kid that is stuck in the system so to speak.  But I think we should keep in mind that there are a lot of great ways to help kids without adopting them.  You could be a foster parent.  You could invest in the lives of kids through an outreach ministry.  You could let a kid that is in trouble live with you for a time.

I had a close friend who met a refugee family in our city.  There was one young kid who my friend wanted to help get a good education.  He offered their family a place to live in a good school district.  They said yes, but then bailed.  But he went ahead and took the kid in for two years while the mom got things straightened out.  He sacrificed a ton for this kid. But once the mom was in a better spot, the kid went with her.  My friend never adopted this kid, but the impact was huge.  It was about the kid, not about my friend’s desire to be a parent – even though he does have that desire.

My point is if you want to help a kid in a bad situation, there are a lot of great ways to do that, in which you could have impact.  You can be a parental figure without being a parent. The number one point is this: It should be about the kid, not about you.

12 thoughts on “Should A Single Person Have A Kid On Purpose

  1. That was incredibly encouraging, I’ve wanted to do more with adoption, but I just don’t have the financial resources. I’ve been praying about other options, and fully plan to help with the local children’s home and learn ASL part time for helping kids with hearing loss. There’s just gotta be more time this year for that, as I’ve been off track and lost in terms of God’s path, and too much to do.

  2. Agree 100%. Throughout my twenties and in my thirties I wanted to be a father, parent. It didn’t happen. I teetered on the age of 39, I still was at square one. The odds of it happening were diminishing. Was it fair? Probably not. But since finding Christ almost five years ago, I have come to learn that God does not see things as man does. Perhaps there was a reason I could not comprehend, or understand. I understand now.

    God placed me in The Boy Scouts of America. My Troop is changing my city and its rotting downtown core for the better. God softened the hearts and changed perceptions of the “single man in Christ in His church” with my fellow brothers and sisters. God enriched me with people “trusting” me again. God delivered a “second chance to me” and I have taken it.
    The rewards of this one day made me stop in my tracks and “understand” the what and why of His actions.

    I can see myself taking a “foster kid” in someday, making sure he finishes high school, that kind of thing (teenagers in the foster care system have it rough at times. No stability). I can see myself of being that example to people in my church….in fact, some have come to me to bounce ideas off me about problems with their son or daughter. Not an experts, but again it’s that trust, that observation they have seen in me that I “don’t have to be a biological father” to know or work with youth / children.

    Great post Justin

  3. While I agree with you that a single person should not go and get pregnant just because they want children, I disagree with your perspective on adoption. Rita Springer, a well known worship leader in the US adopted a boy and has an amazing story to go with it. Her adoption fulfilled a promise in her life. I’m not saying that is for everyone who wants a child and I’m not suggesting its the best way or necessarily always a good thing. However, its about being yielded to God and his will and plans. Hers included adopting a child as a single woman. I think you need to be aware of you own motives and be prayerful.

    • Oh I think there are times where it could be right. That’s why I didn’t rule it out. I just think it’s fairly rare, should be entered into extremely cautiously and should be about the kid in general. In other words I think adoption could be right, but with a whole heck of a lot of qualifiers and motive checking. I mean a lot.

  4. An excellent post on a topic I think most individuals don’t attach to the relationship struggles of singles, especially that of single women. The issue definitely needs to be address because as you pointed out, sex, kids, and marriage are all detached from one another to be done in a specific God created order.

    The core issue here really is the heart and motive of the individual seeking to have children. Getting pregnant or adopting children based around a persons desire to be a mommy (or daddy) or they feel their biological clock is running out, is making the whole situation about them and their desires. At that point the child just becomes an object set to full fill their desires that haven’t yet been met. That is completely wrong and absolutely out of God’s will as set forth in scripture.

    In fact when we see “be fruitful and multiply” in scripture it’s preceded by a statement of a man and wife to be fruitful and multiply. We see that regarding Adam and Eve (Gen 1:27-28) where God created/brought Adam and Eve together, blessed them, and then commanded them to multiply. It’s stated with Noah and his sons and their wives (Gen 8:16-17) with a commandment to multiply with their wives. So we clearly see the defined link and order of multiplying after there is a marriage in place.

    Research has even confirmed this that children who grow up in a two parent home are less likely to have bad behaviors, become future criminals, end up in jail, etc. The fact that scientific research backs up what God states in scripture reenforces it even more that to intentionally create a family requires the foundation of a husband and wife in place first. I really believe to go outside that structure is to act in a sinful and disobedient way causing much unavoidable pain to the child, ones self, and others. In fact Abraham sinned and disobeyed Gods order to have a child and this world is still paying the price 4000 years later. It really is a trust issue with the Lord. Either we believe the Lord will provide a spouse and child if it’s His will and will do so in the order God has already ordained.

    In fact this is something a female friend of mine went through about 7 years ago. She asked my input and advice and I told her them the same thing I just wrote above. That was a very unpopular bit of advice for her as she became more determined in her will to adopt a child to full fill HER desire for HER to be a mother. All because no guy had yet pursued her (weight issues) and she felt she was getting to the point she had to act. In the end, that advice cost me the friendship and she went through with the adoption.

    But the experience highlighted one thing, when we are determined to make being a parent happen, it’s a clear and decisive action to be disobedient to the Lord by stepping outside of the marriage structure He already ordained for parenting.

    Mind you, this is a sinful and fallen world where nothing is perfect. While I am against a single person getting pregnant or intentionally going to adopt a child just to be a parent, there are other gray areas where becoming a “parent” as a single may be ok. Maybe a relatives family tragically passed away leaving children needing to be cared for or adopted. Maybe children from broken homes just need a mentor, foster parent, or “spiritual parent”. In which case there is a need where we may have to respond too.

    Anyway Justin, excellent post!

  5. A few thoughts.
    First of all, our family is the classic “two involved and loving parents” and sometimes it still feels like we need more adults around here to handle three kids. I can’t fathom doing it alone.
    You also never know what kinds of issues will pop up with a child, so that’s where motives come in. You have to be in it for the long haul. Married or single, people have a bad tendency to romanticize being a parent or have unrealistic expectations that lead to frustration and ultimately harm the kid.
    With the right support system in place I think anyone could be a good and effective parent. “It takes a village” might be cliche but there’s an awful lot of truth to it. Sometimes even in a marriage, you’ll see one parent doing most of the parenting. I think that a single person considering adopting should look at their support network and ask who will help them raise this child? Really, we should probably all do that.
    Finally, motives and adoption. Sure, it should not be just about you and how you think it would be neato to have a kid. But by its nature adoption requires more time, effort, introspection and consideration of motives than most couples ever put into their decision to have a child biologically. I believe your motive should be somewhat “selfish.” Think of it from the kid’s perspective. Do you want to be rescued, or wanted? No kid wants to feel pitited and forever indebted to your generosity. If you just want to help kids there are a million opportunities to volunteer or donate. If you want a family, if you want to raise a child forever, that’s what adoption is about.

    • “It takes a village” is cliche…..because we forget that every village has more than a few idiots in it, so to speak. Also, how do you “measure” who does more of the work or who doesn’t when it comes to children and parenting? How do you “grade” and “assess” what actions or what situation gets more “points” for doing more of the parenting? How do you determine exactly this scale? Who would determine this scale and how can it be measured? The answer? It can’t.

      I lived in India for seven months where the slums are huge, the money little, and the love was great. Parents doing what they could, and being a parent to their children. It isn’t about money, or who does what…it’s a team, and part of the problem today in the states and other “modern” countries…it’s a “competition” today between the parents. “who does more” and “I’m better because” or “I’m right because I did this, or the village said that”

      It’s now a competition. Between the neighbors, the people on TV…..even with the others in “the village” that you mentioned, including the idiot 🙂

      Children are a blessing and too many today view them as “an accessory”

  6. I totally agree with you on the issue of a single woman deliberately getting pregnant, because I think not only is it selfish to go outside of God’s ideal and ignore all of the disadvantages that a child has in a single parent home, I think artificial insemination is akin to fornication because it is the introduction of sperm into herr body from a man who is not your husband. Yes, it is not the same physical act, but I think some of the same principles apply.
    However, I am completely in favor of adoption, for married people who already have kids, or don’t have kids, empty-nesters, singles. I agree that a two parent home is always going to be the ideal, there is a reason God set that up as the pattern, and if there were enough families who were willing to adopt then I would say we should let them have the kids because the children are likely to be better off in two parent homes. But there are so many children in the world who need loving homes. There is an ideal order but that order has already been broken by the death or abandonment of child’s parents. It is important to have the right motives when adopting a kid, but that is true of both singles and couples.
    It is true that there are a lot of other ways to help out kids who are in trouble, and those are good things to keep in mind for people to don’t feel called to adopt or who feel that they are not at the right stage to adopt, but I defy anyone to watch a documentary about an overseas orphanage and tell me that Christians who want to take those children home should not do so, or even should probably not do so, because of their marital status.

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  8. Lately this topic at church (not mine) but in my neighborhood has really resurfaced. I attend this church for their “men’s fellowship” on Tuesday night.

    This church of course has a “large number of single women in their late thirties” and since no “real man of God, has manned-up” to marry them……..many are now “adopting” children…babies from Africa and Caribbean to raise as their own………….as a single mom

    Noble right? I can agree to point about this….but it’s the “attitude” behind it that I find a little disturbing. I hate to say this….but many of the women doing this (not all) have a very “look at me saving the world because no man stepped-up, I have to do this on my own!”

    Another aspect of this that I find a bit worrying is the fact that in the USA….in your own state, maybe in your OWN city there are children who want to be adopted. Who want a home. Who need you……..and I work with teenage boys in the ‘foster care’ / orphanage system / group home care system who don’t have a parent…..and would so much want a parent…….but they are not little “babies” and don’t have the cuteness factor going for them anymore as teenagers…….

    It just comes off with many as “I am owed motherhood” (try being a single man trying to adopt in the USA, and an active church member….I dare you), and “I didn’t have sex, so it’s okay!”

    Yet, we’re still constantly told that two parents are better than one…….except now when I want “baby” and God understands my heart and choice………………..

    Someone forwarded me an article on ‘singleroots’ about this trend of late (they of course think its a great idea). I am not putting down this….but I think we have to be careful about the MOTIVE behind it. If its about no “real man” stepping up and you being “owed” / “deserve” a child………perhaps these motives should be brought into question…….and maybe in the agencies in the USA they have been brought up by workers……….and in our culture today if we don’t like the answer we get here…..we go somewhere else to get the answer we DO want.

    This is a touchy, sensitive, delicate topic. Please examine the motives and please CONSIDER a child in the USA. Plenty of need is here too!

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