Single motherhood by choice on rise

Research suggests more women are choosing to raise a child without a partner

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A new trend appears to be emerging in single parenting, with more women choosing to use donor sperm to have a child on their own.

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Research by Susanna Graham, of the Centre for Family Research, Cambridge University, looked at the decision making and experiences of 23 single, heterosexual women becoming mothers through the use of donor sperm.

The ‘average’ so-called Single Mum by Choice (SMC) is well educated and financially stable. She is about 38 years old when she starts to think about fertility treatment and embarks on the process 2 years later.

The most common reason for choosing solo parenting is the feeling of ‘time running out’, the combination of increasing age and declining fertility.

Clara, 26, from Abingdon puts it as follows, “I don’t want to wait much longer. Having a child is more important to me than having a relationship… and I’m scared to leave it too long”.

Having a baby and bringing up a child on your own is a long and complex decision making process. Many potential SMC’s admit they are most worried about whether their decision would be fair on their child or whether they were ‘being selfish’.

One mum speaking recently at The Alternatives Families Show was struggling to tell her son where he came from. “I think I was quite naive when I had my son. He wants a dad and looks to men all the time. I hadn’t thought that through”.

But for another woman, single motherhood didn’t feel like so much of a choice. “I am 46 years old with 2 failed marriages and 2 kids… and I want to push one more out”.

So how do the children fare? Research suggests that children of Single Mothers by Choice are no more likely to be disadvantaged. The children who suffer most are those whose mother’s have been depressed, come from a low income or are the product of a failed marriage, which are not the ‘normal’ scenarios with SMC children.

Clara sees it like this, “Do you let go of the childhood fairy tale or do you just do what you think you should do and anyway, I don’t think Prince Charming exists.”

If you are thinking of becoming a mother through donor conception, you can find out more from Donor Conception Network.

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