Considering single motherhood via sperm bank
November 9, 2017 2:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm mid-30s and have wanted a kid for years now. I'm considering doing it as a single mom through a sperm bank. Has anyone done this? I'm looking specifically for resources about single moms who decided on their own to self-inseminate via a sperm bank. Anecdotes (preferably of the first-hand type) are also welcome. More details inside!

I've talked to my therapist who confirms my reasoning is not off and this is a fine idea. (Therapy is for relationship/life issues, nothing too serious.) I don't want to talk much about my love life here; Suffice to say I'm tired of waiting for a man, and I have health problems that are not serious but make waiting problematic.

I make decent enough money to survive (mid-5 figures) at a good company with a good boss and excellent benefits (maternity included). I have savings. I have a rich support system consisting of my entire immediate family (including siblings with kids) and a ton of friends all within an hours drive. My closest friends are very tight-knit and are especially good at rallying in these times. I know everyone close to me would be supportive and I feel good about it.

I admit I'm worried about judgment from not-so-close acquaintances, co-workers and extended family. I feel like single moms get a lot of sympathy but typically because they've been screwed over. And here I am doing it on purpose!

I'm hoping to prepare myself for whatever comes, good or bad. Any advice would be great!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have a few friends who have done this and they really like the "single parents by choice" Facebook groups they've joined for support and commiseration, so if you are on FB, that might be good.

Screw what people think. They will judge either way if they're judgy. It will either be "oh poor OP is single and when will they find a partner and settle down?" Or "poor OP, she couldn't find a partner so she has to do this alone." People are going to think stuff no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you want!

If you are in the US, as a partnered parent of toddlers, I will say that the most shocking and scary part of all of this baby and kid stuff has been the cost of childcare.
After your maternity leave is over, you have several YEARS of full time childcare you will need to figure out, before public school starts. Unless some of your family has expressed a desire to take care of your kids for 4-5 years every workday, you will have to be paying for day care or nannies.
For many people in many places, it is the same or more than rent each month. Definitely do some research on options near you and do some budgeting to see how hard it might be financially.
As a single parent, you will also need more babysitting than partnered parents who can leave the kid at home with the other adult to go out. Going out might seem like an impossibility for the first year or so, but then you will still have 10+ years of needing to run out for something and not being able to leave the kid by themselves.
You might get an easy kid who you can take along everywhere, or you might get a kid who hates the car or needs to stick to a set schedule or whatever. It's good to be prepared and think about daily life tasks and how you will perform them with a tiny important person in your world.

Best of luck!
posted by rmless at 4:40 AM on November 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

One of my cousins is a single mom by choice via adoption. Everyone in her circle that I know is nothing but THRILLED for her because this is something she wanted for a very long time. The fact that her parents are close and involved has been a huge help.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:54 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

We’re in 2017 and there’s still stigma attached to pretty much everything you do (getting married early, getting married late, not getting married, divorcing, having kids before marriage, having many kids in Western societies, not having many kids in Africa, marrying the same sex, etc.) so people are going to talk regardless.

If this is what you want, go for it without looking back. And the fact that you have a strong support system is a huge benefit. Huge.
posted by Kwadeng at 6:03 AM on November 9, 2017

Someone in my social circle did this. The big issue, as rmless said, was financial. She initially made a lot of spreadsheets and budgets and concluded that she couldn't afford childcare. At that point, some of her family members offered to provide childcare, which would have been a big ask if they hadn't offered. She's also in the mid-five-figures salary range, and that's not really enough money to afford full-time daycare in our market.

Honestly, I haven't been conscious of people being judgmental. But I also think that you probably shouldn't make major life decisions based on a fear of being judged.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:23 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Once you’re pregnant and decide to tell people, develop a standard thing to say that conveys that they should be squee-ing and congratulating you, just as they would if a married friend got pregnant. How it should go depends on your personality, as does whether to tell them it’s via sperm donor upfront. (They’re going to wonder if you don’t tell them, so I personally would want to just to reduce judgmental whispers.) I’d say something like, “I’m having a baby in July! I’ve wanted this for a long time, and a father didn’t materialize, so I went for artificial insemination. I’m so excited!”
posted by metasarah at 6:39 AM on November 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have been super open about my choice to have my son via donor insemination because I don't want it to be something weird or secret. I wanted to be a mom, thought I'd be a good one and didn't want to wait for a relationship to come before I could to it. (I might still be waiting!) I'd say that most everyone has been supportive - at this point there are so many different kinds of families that it's becoming way less stigmatized. I had a couple of people at work being surprised when they found out I was pregnant but mostly everyone was more excited about the fact that there was a baby coming than the how.

If you feel like the financial piece is covered then I say go for it. It can be hard - not having anyone to trade off parenting duties to is tough sometimes. But my son is 5.5 now and this was the best choice for me.

I liked the Single Mothers by Choice website. It has sections for Thinking, Trying and Parenting so wherever you are in your decision there is likely to be material there for you.

Please memail me if you want to chat or have specific questions - as I said, I'm totally happy to talk about any part of it.
posted by machine at 6:46 AM on November 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

One of my friends did this at 38 (though through more 'natural' means with a willing donor), with less money and less support than you. And while she has a difficulties and the 'donor dad' does contribute a little bit of time and money, she has a beautiful amazing little girl that she couldn't imagine living without.

No one really asks questions and if they do, she just says she's a single mom by choice. She is unapologetic about everything in life, tough as nails, and does not suffer sympathy at all. So therefore no one treats her that way.

Do you really want what other people think prevent you from reaching this goal? The best way for a child to start out in life is to be wanted. Go for it.

Good luck!
posted by greta simone at 7:53 AM on November 9, 2017

I have two close friends and a range of friends to acquaintances who have done this, who have incredible, cherished children, and who are happy with their decisions. People are going to judge your choices as a parent regardless of whether you do this with a partner or by yourself. It goes with the territory of being a parent. It's actually been quite liberating for me learning to just tune that stuff out now that I have my own kids.

I would absolutely recommend finding a community who has been there and done that who can walk you through the challenges and who can cheer you on when you meet them in real life. That kind of community has been crucial to my mental health as a parent.
posted by goggie at 8:07 AM on November 9, 2017

I would only say from my perspective it sounds like you're making this choice in the most admirably thoughtful way, and have weighed all of the strengths in your life appropriately. I'm certain that's a great indication for being a wonderful mom. No further advice, I'm afraid.
posted by namesarehard at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine did this, and obviously loves her child. Be prepared for the first few months to be the hardest thing you've ever done (true even with two, and with plenty of grad school all-nighters in the bag), and to need your support network in more regular ways than you might expect (e.g., is there somebody who can step up on unexpected kid sick days? school holidays that don't correspond to yours? etc.). But there have been plenty of single mothers in history, and plenty of loving kids to show for it, so don't let yourself be deterred by the challenges if it's something you really want.

As for social acceptance, it may or may not weird people out for a while, but (a) a real grandkid (etc) is adorable in the way that an Abstract Weird Concept is not, so people come around, and (b) eventually you're just a mother-kid pair, and it will be Old History. Plus, you'll gradually meet other moms and have a network that way too.

Good luck!
posted by acm at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have two with the same donor. Consider joining Single Mothers By Choice. We have single women from all walks of life on the forum that are planning, trying, or have kids via donors or adoption. Pretty much any question you have about it has been asked there.

I agree that childcare is the biggest sticking point. I spend more on it a month than on my house mortgage. If family can't help with it, I'd recommend start setting aside the cost of daycare in a savings account now. You'll have a nice amount saved by the time the baby arrives plus you'd already have the daycare costs worked out in your budget.

I got no judgment from anyone or if there was, they never said anything to me and I'm ok with that. A few people even told me I did it the smart way since I didn't have to deal with a partner or a partner's family (which says more about their situations than mine). At work I told people "I'm pregnant!" and no one asked for details. I think most my coworkers know I'm a single mother since I never discuss a partner but most don't know the "by choice" part as it makes no difference. However if someone asks about a husband or dad, I just say I'm not married and I did it on my own; details are unnecessary.

My family & closest friends are 2+ hours away. I do have some good friends here but if my family was closer, it would make emergencies and some of non-day-to-day stuff easier (e.g., I'm stuck going up to big city overnight and someone can pick up the kids, sleep over my house, and drop them off at daycare without affecting their lives too much).

It's been the best thing I've ever done. I'd be happy to answer any questions too!
posted by bluesapphires at 6:39 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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