Advice Corner

General questions

What is a Single Mother by Choice?

A Single Mother by Choice is a person who decides to become a parent on their own from the very beginning.  They know from the beginning that they will be the sole provider and caregiver for the child.  Single Mothers by Choice become parents through adoption, surrogacy, conception using donor sperm.

Is there a right age to be a SMC?

There is no right age to become an SMC.  That said, being a Single Mother by Choice requires resources and the ability to find and access resources.  Some, but not all resources are financial, others are social/emotional resources.  Ideally one would want to be in a stable place in life emotionally, financially and job related.  The journey of a Single Mother by Choice can come with a lot of unknowns.  The more solid the foundation going in, the better prepared you will be to weather the ups and downs.  Many people start their SMC journey in their mid-thirties, but recent trends show more and more people starting in their mid-twenties.  So, there is no right age.

Financial Education

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Where should I start?

I am considering becoming a Single Mother by Choice. Congratulations on taking this courageous first step.

fertility

From my experience the fertility assessment could either start with your gynecologist or with a fertility clinic (where you would meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist).  This assessment will give you a baseline on your fertility numbers and help you decide when and how to go about conception.

Adoption assessment

reach out to adoption agencies or an adoption attorney to get an understanding of the adoption paths that are open to you and the requirements. Depending on which path you choose there may be some initial requirements to get started. Understanding what is covered by your insurance, work policies, and your state Benefits, coverage, tax implications vary from state to state and company to company. Taking the time to look through as many policies as possible, ahead of time, will help you to make better decisions around when to begin the process, how to finance the process, how much to save and tax planning (consult your tax preparer). For instance, many states have tax credits for adoption, some states require fertility coverage, some insurances will cover fertility work ups for diagnosing infertility but do not cover procedures to help you get pregnant.

Understand your company's policies around maternity leave and adoption.

Reach out to your company’s Human Resources department and ask other employees about coverage. In my experience, HR’s policies may be confusing but when coupled with first-hand accounts from employees who have been through the process helped to fill in gaps. You will want to understand how much leave you are entitled to. What adoption benefits or reimbursements does the company offer. All this information will come in handy as you plan for your SMC journey.

I am trying to decide if I should go the known donor route or the commercial sperm bank route.

This is a deeply personal choice so which option is best will depend on you and your circumstances.

There are things I would consider:

  • Cost
  • Legal protections
  • Level of access (to the donor for you and your future child, of the donor to you and your future child)
  • Health, STD, and psychological history
  • Having a second child

I will use cost as an example of things to consider since this comes up a lot in SMC spaces.

While cost should not be the only factor in this decision, I do acknowledge the upfront cost of sperm from a commercial bank is steep.  It also comes with some built-in protections and oversights with implications for the SMC, any offspring, and the sperm donor.  For instance, thorough and ongoing STD and health screenings, offspring counts, severing of parental rights for the donor.

Using sperm from a known donor may have no upfront costs, which is appealing to some people.

It may cost you in terms of securing legal documents and other protections for the SMC, any offspring, and the sperm donor. Using a known donor may also allow two-way access for the donor and offspring and other flexible arrangements that might work for your vision. This arrangement could be as formal or informal as you desire.

Using a known donor as an SMC should not be confused with co-parenting.

These are two different things altogether. In either case you will want to do your due diligence in making sure you have a deep understanding of the implications for you and your child both now and into the future.

How do I get my family onboard with my plans to become an SMC?

There is no guarantee that you will but having your plan out in the open will allow you emotional freedom.

Before speaking with family members prepare for the conversation.

I provide resources and training on how to do this.  To set realistic expectations for yourself as you enter these conversations, keep in mind your thinking process took weeks/months/years your family members may require the same amount of time.

Once you are firm in your decision, create a prioritized list of who needs to know of your decision and when. Some people will be a part of your immediate TTC circle (transport you to and from appointments, help with injections, a shoulder to lean on, medical emergency contact), other people will be looked for to provide support later but before baby arrives.
This list will help you determine the order of conversations and the level of detail required for the conversation. When you prepare make sure you have answers to as many questions as you can anticipate and be prepared to speak honestly and from a place of confidence.
While you cannot control the outcome of these conversations, you can control the degree to which it affects you.

I have a small extended family; how do I build a village?

I would be intentional about building a village and aim for quality over quantity. The mindset I use is “reason, season, purpose” this keeps me from putting too much weight on the relationships in my village.  You will experience seasons and people will rotate in and out of your village and that is okay.

  • Know where the SMCs in your area are located and connect with them. They can be found on FB, the National SMC Forum, Meetup, Club House, and other social media spaces.
  • Choose daycare, kid activities and housing options that enable community building.
  • Building friendships as an adult is hard, so be the friend you are looking for.

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