Today, more and more women choose to have a child on their own and become a single mum by choice with the help of donor sperm. About 50 % of Cryos’ private clients are single mothers to be, and this number has increased during the past years.
The reasons for becoming a single mum are many. It may be that you have not found the right partner to have children with, that you are confident and happy about being single but still wish to have a child, or that you want to be the only parent responsible for your child’s upbringing. No matter the cause, single parenthood can be challenging. Therefore, we have gathered some advice on preparing for a baby, so the start to your new life can be as easy as possible.
Becoming a Single Mother by Choice – what to consider
There are several considerations to take into account when choosing to become a single mother. In the following, we have gathered some of the aspects that may be worth thinking about when making the decision to have a child on your own.
What are the options?
You must consider how you will do it, as there are different ways to becoming a solo mother by choice. One of them is using a sperm donor, which is a popular and safe choice. You have the option to choose a donor who has the same characteristics as you and even the same hobbies and interests. Sperm donors are tested for many genetic and infectious diseases and importantly, using a sperm donor will give you the full parental rights of your child. Other options may be adoption or using a friend as a donor.
How will you involve family and friends?
As a single parent by choice, you will be the only person responsible for your child, but that does not mean that you have to feel alone. It can be an asset to have people around you who can support you on your journey. We recommend that you speak with friends and family members that you would like to involve. You can talk to them about how they can support you. Some people may be able to help you on a practical level while others may just be there for you and support you emotionally on your journey.
How will you deal with people’s reactions?
Most people in your network will probably be there to support you on your exciting journey towards motherhood. But some may also question your choice – maybe because they are not familiar with the changes in society where families are formed in many different ways and not just made of a mum, a dad and a number of children.
It may be a good idea to prepare some answers in order to be able to deal with people’s curious questions. It can be helpful to know in advance how to stand by your choice. This can also help you prepare how you will answer your child’s question about your family at a later stage. Remember, that it is your life and only you know what is right for you.
Who to discuss big decisions with?
Before, during pregnancy and throughout the upbringing of your child, there will be big decisions to make. For example, what donor to use and later which daycare or school to choose, how to raise your child the best way etc. In order to make the right decisions, it is a good idea to choose one or a few persons you feel comfortable about involving in the important decisions. It could be your own parents, your sister or brother or a close friend who has children on his or her own.
How to tell your child?
From other women’s experience with becoming a solo mother to a donor child, we know that it can be of great value to begin telling the story about how the child came into the world at an early stage. Gradually, the child will understand and this way, it will become an integrated and normal part of the child’s identity. Knowing that he or she might not have a father will not feel like a big deal but something normal like the fact that other children have parents that are divorced, have two mothers, have many siblings or no siblings at all. You can read this blog post where donor-conceived Emma tells how her parents handled this in a kind and calm way.
There is no exact recipe on how to tell the story, but we have gathered some advice on how to talk to your child about donor conception here.
Do you want siblings for your child?
You should consider if you would like your child to have genetic siblings by using the same donor. When the child grows older, it can be comforting for the child to have siblings they are genetically related to. Here you can read about when and how much donor sperm to reserve for genetic siblings.
Accept that you cannot do everything perfectly
Being a parent will always be a mix of fantastic and exciting but also challenging and frustrating moments. It is important that you tell yourself that you are doing the best you can. You are just as capable of raising a happy and healthy child as families with two parents are. No one will ever be able to do everything perfectly or give their child everything they wish to give them. This is completely normal and something we must accept as parents.
Books about becoming a solo mum
To help you in the decision-making process, it can be of great value to read books that go about all the aspects of being a solo mum by choice. Here we have gathered a list of useful books to read when making the decision to become a mother to a donor child.
- Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Women's Guide by Mikki Morrissette
- Single Mothers by Choice by Jane Mattes
The mother-child relationship in Single Mother by Choice families
When you have decided to become a single mother, it is normal to think about how the relationship with your child will be in the future. Some of the concerns may be: Will one parent be good enough for my child? Will I be able to provide all he/she needs during his/her upbringing? In the video below, you can watch an interview with Susan Golombok who is a researcher at Center for Family Research at the University of Cambridge. She has studied families created by solo mums by choice and in this video, she shares some of the findings from her study.
Read stories by other single mothers and connect with like-minded
The decision to become a single parent by choice is a big step that entails many thoughts and considerations. In this process, it might be helpful for you to read personal stories from other women who have made the decision to go it alone. We recommend that you visit our blog, where you can read stories by other single mothers. For example, you can read this blog post where Ellen tells us about how it takes a village to raise a child or this blog post where 38-year-old Marije explains her journey towards becoming a mother with the help from a sperm donor.
We also encourage you to join our Facebook group Family Dreams where you can get in touch with other women who are on their way to motherhood or who have already had a child with the help of donor sperm. On Facebook, you can also find many other communities which are created by single mothers.