Many single women don’t want to wait to find a partner before starting a family. They’re not letting relationships dictate their ability to become parents. A growing number of them are opting to have children on their own, whether that means seeking fertility treatments, sperm donors or another person committed to starting a family as single partners. Their journeys to parenthood may look a little different, but the outcome is the same. Here’s what four women had to say about why they decided to become single parents by choice.
Sticking to her own timeline.
“When I was 35, my relationship ended because my then-boyfriend ‘changed his mind’ about wanting to have [more] children. After our breakup, I tried dating but realized my timeline for having babies was way different than that of most men I was meeting. As a professional matchmaker and dating coach in the NYC area, I was painfully aware of the many attractive, successful, single women in their late 30s and 40s who wanted kids but couldn’t find the right guy. I decided I didn’t want to become one of them, and that I was no longer willing to wait for a man to decide he wanted to marry me and have children.”
—Rachel Russo, Yahoo Life
Knowing what she wants.
“I started practicing saying it aloud — ‘I want to have a baby on my own.’ First to strangers at Starbucks, then to female colleagues I admire, then eventually to friends and family. It felt right. It felt WAY more right than the alternative: I need to find a man to have a baby with. Because … Do I really? It’s an extremely difficult and emotionally complicated decision (I have no delusions of grandeur here), but it might be what’s best for me. And, bottom line, we are all lucky to be able to choose what’s best for us.”
—Alyssa Shelasky, The Cut
Being inspired by friends.
“During COVID-19, I've had so much more alone time, which gave me the space to think about it more seriously. Before the pandemic, I was so over-scheduled that I never allowed myself the time to slow down and think about what I really wanted and how to take action…Several of my friends had actually started their family this way, by pursuing motherhood and then finding a partner later. I had always just assumed it was the other way around, but once I started to see what it looked like in other people's lives, it really solidified my decision to do it.”
—Kelly, Well + Good
Not waiting for the “perfect relationship.”
“I was tired of waiting — it was time. My girlfriend and I worked on our relationship in couples’ therapy for a little longer but things weren’t improving. I broke up with her and made an appointment with a gynecologist…Why do we, as women, gay or straight, manically race our biological clocks to find/create/mend the perfect relationship, when we can just shop for sperm online? This is the next wave of feminism! I thought. Much like the second wave realizing they didn’t need a man for money, I realized I didn’t need a partner to raise a family.”
—Athena Reich, Chatelaine
With more options available for women, single parenthood is a new reality. There are struggles and triumphs, just like couples who conceive children together. But the overwhelming conclusion is that for those that choose this route, it’s totally worth it.
“Is it overwhelming? Absolutely! Is it hard? Oh my God, yes. Much harder than I ever imagined!” explained Reich. “When I get together with my mom friends, both married and single, I see that we are all living an intense and unspeakable roller coaster of contradictions—adoration, panic, resentment, loyalty and love.”
For more information about fertility, resources are available at Fertility Matters. To read more about other women’s journeys or to join a group for support, go to Single Mothers By Choice.