Options for Singles
As a single woman you may feel ready now to become a mother, or feel you’re your biological clock is ticking and you can’t afford to wait for the right partner to come into your life. Many more women than ever before face this situation. Some elect to adopt a child while many others decide to become a mother on their own using donated sperm. Donor sperm can be from someone known to you (e.g., friend, family member). More commonly, women elect to select an anonymous donor through a sperm bank.
If you feel that becoming a mother on your own is a good choice for you, and you think you want to adopt, see the links below under Resources for information on adoption. But if being pregnant and having a genetic link to your child is important to you, the use of donor sperm is likely your best option. Once you have selected a donor, the safest method for insemination is through a fertility clinic – where the sperm will have been washed in the lab (cleaned of debris) and previously quarantined to reduce any risk of HIV transmission. The actual insemination is a relatively simple procedure. The sperm is inserted into your uterus using a catheter. Depending on your age and your current fertility status, your doctor may also suggest using fertility medications such as chlomid during your treatment cycle(s) to increase your chances of conception.
If you are a man who is ready to become a parent but don’t have a partner, you have three options – adoption, traditional surrogacy, or donor egg and gestational surrogacy. In the case of traditional surrogacy, a woman agrees to be inseminated with your sperm, and uses her own eggs to produce a child. She carries the child and when the baby is born, she gives the child to you to raise. In the case of egg donation and gestational surrogacy, eggs are donated by an anonymous donor or someone known to you, fertilized with your sperm in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of another woman who carries the pregnancy and, after delivery, relinquishes the child to you.
It is a complex decision to become a sole support parent with the assistance of a known or anonymous donor and/or surrogate. There are lots of things that you need to consider regarding your personal readiness to become a parent, your situation and supports, and the long-term implications for you and for your child. We offer some decision-making tools to help you consider and weigh your fertility options. You may want to spend some time with a counsellor, exploring your feelings about this choice.
Find out more about sole support parenting and connect with others who have made this choice:
Read more about local and international adoption:
For more information about adoption in Canada, check out the Adoptive Parents site.
For information about international adoption for Canadians, click here.
For general information about adoption, including a section on international adoption, check out this site.
If you are a single woman or man and you know you want to have children eventually, but perhaps now is not the best time, you may want to consider fertility preservation. Click here to learn more about this option.
If you are considering using a friend as a sperm donor, consider talking to your friend about his/your expectations around his role with the potential child. Also consider your own expectations about your friend’s role. Will your friend give up his parental rights so that you are the sole parent? Or do you want him to be involved in your life and that of your child? Will the potential child know that your friend is his/her father? It’s important to have these conversations when considering including friends/family members in these family building options.
Keep in mind that anytime you are doing inseminations at a fertility clinic – whether with a known or anonymous donor – you will likely be required to meet with a mental health professional who specializes in reproductive health to discuss the psychosocial implications of this form of family building. This is an opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns or issues.