If you are not currently in a relationship but, despite your single status, feel ready to become a parent -- there are some non-traditional options for parenthood that you might consider, rather than delaying that life experience until you find the right mate.
Did you know that nearly one third of all families in the United States are headed by a single parent? Though many have not chosen to become single parents, there is a growing trend toward single parenthood by choice. So much so, that there are several non-profits devoted to offering support and information about this. Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) is one such organization, geared to single women over 30 that proactively choose to become single mothers.
Women (or men) who electively choose single parenthood are often described as having "social factor infertility," or the lack of a mate or partner. You may be wondering how, exactly, one becomes a single parent without a partner. And, what about men who choose to become single fathers? Their options must be somewhat different than the options available to women. If you are considering single parenthood, read on to learn about you some routes you might follow.
Sperm Banks, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and More
If you are a single woman under age 40 who wants to experience pregnancy and being a birth mother, with medical assistance this may be possible. You will need to decide if you want a known sperm donor or an anonymous one from a sperm bank. If you pursue artificial insemination, you may need to undergo a potentially protracted process of hormone therapy and in vitro fertilization (IVF). For IVF, you can take medicines that will cause you to produce more eggs. Your matured eggs can then be surgically removed from your ovaries, combined with donated sperm in the lab, and implanted in your uterus (or a surrogate mother’s uterus) for gestation.
Surrogacy is basically third-party reproduction, where a woman will carry and give birth to another person’s baby. Surrogacy is typically used by couples wishing to have a baby that is genetically linked to at least one partner, but either fertility, or pregnancy are not an option for them. Many men who choose single parenthood can donate their own sperm and use an egg donor and a surrogate to become “biological” fathers. Surrogacy may involve intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). For surrogacy, the surrogate signs a legal contract agreeing to give up the baby to the contracted parent.
You don’t necessarily have to be a “birth parent” to be a parent. If you have any fertility issues, don’t wish to use a surrogate, or simply want to provide a stable home for an orphan, you might consider adopting a child. Those considering adoption will need to learn which adoption agencies (and countries) are open to single parents, and how to handle the inevitable adoption bureaucracy.
Here are some additional resources that might help you as you explore your options for single parenthood:
411 4 Dad (http://www.4114dad.com/4114DAD/411-4-DAD.html)
The National Organization of Single Mothers, Inc. (http://www.singlemothers.org/)
Single Mothers by Choice (http://www.singlemothersbychoice.com/)
Single Parent Adoption (http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/single-parent-adoption.html)