Single Mother

Getting ready to become a mother … on my own

My name is Mary. I’m 37 years old and work as an ER nurse. Although I only came out as a lesbian to my family several years after finishing high school, I always knew that I loved women. I knew that meant that when I wanted to have a baby, I’d need some “outside” assistance. Although I anticipated it would be a friend who would help me become a mom by donating his sperm, I always imagined I’d build my family with another woman. But that didn’t happen.

I’ve had two long-term partnerships over the last 15 years that just didn’t go the distance. During those relationships I wasn’t ready to have a baby, and neither were they. Since then, there hasn’t been anyone I’ve met that I could imagine parenting with and I’m aware that time is running out.

So, I’m shifting my plans, and getting ready to get pregnant on my own. When it came to deciding on a donor, for a long time I thought it would be ideal to have a close male friend donate his sperm. This way, my child could have a relationship with his or her “donor dad” and grow up with a male presence in his or her life. I talked with a number of friends, but only one was willing to consider donating his sperm – a long-time friend named Dale, who is married with 2 kids. Unfortunately, when he spoke with his wife, she wasn’t very keen on the idea. I guess I can understand how she feels, and am glad she said something now, rather than later after we went through the whole sperm testing and quarantine.

Now I’m looking into anonymous donors through a fertility clinic and a sperm bank. I’m leaning towards an “open-identity” donor, where my child has the possibility of contacting the donor when he/she turns 18. Although this doesn’t guarantee that the donor will be able to be found, at least it leaves the door open for my child to contact him in the future. Lately, I’ve started to think that going with an anonymous donor might make things easier and less complicated for me and my child in the long run. I’ve watched some of my other lesbian friends who have had children with the help of a male friend, struggle to manage the donor/friend’s relationship with their children – Is he a father? Is he a special “uncle”? And what if his expectations and commitment to the child changes over time?  In the worst case scenario, what if he decides later that he wants paternal rights? Yikes – it can get very complicated.

So if all goes well I’m going to be a mother. But I’m not really doing this “on my own.” I have a village of support around me – my parents, my siblings, other friends (both hetero and queer). Even though I don’t have a partner right now, and I’m not using a known donor, I feel in my heart that I’m making the right decision. And I know for certain, that this child is going to be well-loved.

Share your thoughts on Mary’s story in the comments section below, or submit your own fertility story here.

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