Sandra Bullock Adopted -- Then Divorced. How Would That Work in Real Life?

Family Matters on 02.26.11
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In 2006, Sandra Bullock seemed to have it all. Her film career was undeniably successful, she was married to the love of her life, and she was stepmother to three children. But she wanted more. In one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood, she and her husband, Jesse James, began adoption proceedings in New Orleans.

Fast forward (or slow motion, depending on your perspective) four years, and Sandra's life seems even more idyllic. In January of 2010, she and Jesse finalized the adoption of a baby boy they named Louis Bardo. In March, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her work on "The Blind Side." And then it all came crashing down around her. Before she had time to pick out a show place for her little gold man, the scandalous news broke that Jesse had cheated on her, repeatedly. Sandra immediately moved out of the house they shared and subsequently, filed for divorce. So, what did their divorce mean in terms of adopting baby Louis? Not much. Sandra went ahead with the adoption as a single parent. She could afford to. Would it be that easy for the everyday man or woman to adopt as a single parent?

Well, that all depends. According to Adopting.org, if the adoption has already been finalized, then that child is yours, no exceptions. Of course, you'll have to work out a custody agreement just like any other divorce where children are involved. However, if the adoption isn't quite yet a done deal, then it's up to the courts to decide which parent (if either) may proceed with the adoption. The adoption agency's recommendation is a pretty big deal in deciding the outcome, but more and more single parents are adopting these days (33 percent of all adoptions are to single parents, says the Encyclopedia or Children's Health). Divorce is definitely not a deal breaker.

But it could make things a little bit harder. Adoption policies vary by state, according to the Child Welfare government Web site, but many agencies still view the ideal situation as a two-person parental unit consisting of a man and a woman in a married, loving relationship -- your typical nuclear family. As the definition of family begins to shift, however, doors are opening where they were padlocked closed before. Single men, single women, homosexual couples and bi-racial couples are all given adoption opportunities that weren't necessarily available 20 years ago. Ultimately, agencies are looking to place children in loving, stable, safe homes -- whatever that may look like.

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