Family Members

How do I tell my family and friends that I’m thinking about using donor sperm to become a single mother?

Opting for single motherhood using donor sperm is a big decision – one that is easier if you know that your family and friends support your decision.

While the decision is ultimately up to you, you might want to approach the topic casually to see what kind of reaction you get. You might say something like, “You know that I really want to have kids, but haven’t found the right partner, so I’m thinking of becoming a single mom”. Depending on their reaction to the idea of you having a child on your own, you might take the next step and explain that you’re considering using the sperm of a donor, rather than “accidentally” getting pregnant on purpose with an unsuspecting (and perhaps unwilling) partner.

This type of family building might be new for some people, so they may need a bit of time to get used to the idea. Also, be prepared to answer a lot of questions and assumptions about “the kind of guys who donate sperm”, “how safe this is”, and “what not having or knowing his/her father might mean to your child”.

Ultimately, it’s your decision. While you would like the support of the important people in your life, the more important issue is that you’re making this decision out of love for your unborn child. And once the child is a part of your life, your good friends and close family members will likely come around. If they love you, they will learn to love your child.

A support network is important for all parents, but perhaps even more so for parents who are raising children on their own. You may want to check out whether your community has a local “Single Mothers by Choice” group, or something similar that can offer helpful support and resources. Check out their website here.

As you’re thinking about using a sperm donor, you might want to check out the Donor Conception Network for resources and articles on donor conception. Visit their website here.

How do we tell my parents and in-laws them that we’ve decided not to have children?

This can be an awkward and difficult topic of conversation – depending on the type of parents you and your partner both have.

Some parents feel very strongly that their children should have kids. They may be very invested in becoming or being grandparents. To be fair, they may have loved being parents themselves, and don’t want you to miss out on what for them has been one of the best experiences in their lives. If this is how your parents or your partner’s parents feel, telling them about your decision to remain childfree is likely not going to be easy.

Other parents are more neutral on this issue and either already have grandchildren or aren’t invested in becoming grandparents. They believe it’s up to their kids to decide whether or not they want to become parents. The longer you and your partner remain childless, the more likely it is they just assume that you are going to remain childless. If your parents or your partner’s parents fit into this camp, telling them about your decision not to have kids will be much easier – and they likely won’t be surprised.

Needless to say, it will be easier to explain your decision if you have parents who fit into the second, more “neutral” category. In either case, it is best to do this together, and for each of you to take the lead in telling your own parents.

That said, talk to your partner beforehand and strategize:

· How do you want to bring the subject up?

· Is there a better time to talk about it?

· What are you going to say?

· Who will respond to their questions?

Having a planning session beforehand and even roleplaying what you plan to say can make the conversation feel less scary and uncomfortable. Also decide in advance how much you want to share about your reasoning/reasons for remaining childless. And whatever you do, don’t put the responsibility for this important decision on one partner – inferring that you would be happy to have children but your partner doesn’t want any kids, or vice versa! You need to have a united front and both be committed to this decision before sharing it with your respective parents and family members. Approach the topic with sensitivity and assertiveness – knowing that you don’t have to apologize for your choice, but it might evoke some strong reactions.

Before speaking with your parents, you might enjoy reading the 2005 book Baby Not on Board: A Celebration of Life Without Kids by Jennifer L. Shawne. It contains some suggestions on how to break the news to significant and insignificant others in your life, that you are planning to remain childfree. You may also find our other section on childfree living helpful.

How do we ask my sister/sister-in-law to donate her eggs, so that we can have a child?

Deciding whether or not to use an egg donor to help you have a child can be a very emotional and difficult choice. Actually approaching a family member and asking her to donate some of her eggs so that you can become a mother, can be even more daunting. She might need some time to think about it. What will you say and how you will feel if she says no? And what if she says yes? Are you committed to using her as an egg donor? Will you be comfortable with this possibility? Do you have the kind of relationship that is solid enough to survive the emotional ups and downs of the treatment process? Will your relationship be OK if treatment fails? Will you be able to negotiate the social and emotional boundaries of your relationship with each other, and her relationship to your child, if treatment is successful?

Depending on how close you are (emotionally and physically), you may want to consider approaching your sister or sister-in-law through a letter. A letter would give her the time and space to consider your request, rather than reacting without having the time to think it through. The letter can be brief – you can give her more details about the actual procedure if she is open to considering being your donor. Tell her why you are considering using this form of family building. Let her know why you are choosing her as a potential egg donor. Offer her the opportunity to think about it and talk further with you/both of you and with the medical and mental health specialists at the fertility clinic.

Reassure her that she has the option to say no without any negative impact on your relationship – she even has the option of not responding to the letter. Provide her with a general description of the process and tell her where to get more detailed information about the procedures and the emotional and physical risks.

Be prepared for the possibility that your sister might say no at first or may say yes and then change her mind once she talks this over with her own partner, or learns more about what the procedure actually involves.

Sometimes using a sister as an egg donor doesn’t work out. If this is the case, there are other options, such as using an altruistic egg donor in Canada or a paid egg donor in the United States or other countries.

Check out our sections on Third Party Options for information about the medical procedure and for information on emotional considerations when using third party reproduction. Or, click on “Third Party Options” in our “Read More About” section on the right to see all of the related posts on our site.