A single parent by choice is someone who chooses to have a child knowing they will be their child’s sole provider, at least at the beginning. Some people who choose this path never want to be married; others want to have a child before getting married, and some simply feel emotionally and financially secure enough to raise a child on their own.
There are several different options for those pursuing solo parenthood, but financial barriers are common. For example, some insurance plans require an infertility diagnosis –– or 6–12 months of trying to get pregnant –– to access fertility treatment. Adoption and donor-assisted reproduction can also be costly without support. Let’s explore some of the family-forming options for single parents by choice and how resources like fertility benefits can help make the process more accessible.
Who decides to be a single parent by choice?
There are many reasons one may choose to become a single parent by choice. According to a recent Modern Fertility and Zola survey, 27% of respondents agreed with the statement: "I don't feel like I need a partner to become a parent." Not only is there increasing acceptance of single parenthood, but this path is also on the rise –– especially for single mothers by choice (SMBCs). With women choosing to get married later in life, the growth in access to sperm banks as a single person, and women now entering higher-paying fields and being more educated in general, becoming an SMBC is more accessible than ever before. In 2008, there were an estimated 2.7 million American women who identified as SMBCs, and because the census does not have a category to track mothers who are parenting solo, those numbers could be much higher today.
A 2016 study of over 100 families also found that “solo motherhood, in itself, does not result in psychological problems for children.” The study revealed no significant differences in quality between families with one mother versus two-parent families, although there was less conflict observed in single-mother families. Susan Golombok, Professor of Family Research at the University of Cambridge, has noted that “children do just as well in “new family structures” as in the traditional family.”
Currently, there are 2.6 million single fathers in the United States, including those both by choice and chance, and while there is little research on just how many are by choice, it’s suspected that this is also a growing population.
What are the options for becoming a single parent by choice?
Single parents by choice have many of the same family-forming options as two-parent families. Here are some options to consider when starting a family on your own:
Adoption may feel like the most obvious choice for single people deciding to have children. Single-parent adoption comprises about 30% of all domestic adoptions in the United States. At the same time, single parents have faced discrimination when adopting as there can be a preference for two-parent households by some agencies. Support through services like Carrot can help single parents by choice find agencies inclusive of all family structures.
When taking this path, it’s also important to remember that there are various options under the adoption umbrella, which have a variety of processes and costs. Domestic private adoptions typically cost between $30,000 and $50,000, and intercountry adoptions can cost between $30,000 and $60,000. Adopting through foster care is another option and the cost is typically covered by the state.
Donor-assisted reproduction uses donated eggs, embryos, or sperm to give single parents the option to have biological children independently. This means a single parent can use options like in vitro fertilization (IVF) –– when the egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab, and an embryo is transferred to the uterus. IVF can cost up to $25,000 per round. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another option, where prepared sperm are placed directly into the uterus. It can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $4,000.
Gestational carrier services
Gestational carrier (GC) arrangements (commonly known as surrogacy) can be a way for a person without a uterus, or a person who can’t carry a child on their own, to have a child. A GC is a person carrying a pregnancy they are not genetically related to. A single parent could use their own sperm and a donor egg or their own egg and donor sperm to create an embryo that is then transferred into the GC’s uterus to carry the pregnancy. The average cost of a successful first-attempt GC pregnancy in the U.S. starts at $136,000 for a singleton birth. Loans, grants, and employer-sponsored funds from companies like Carrot are a few ways one could fund this journey.
Pursuing solo parenthood can be challenging. Some single parents by choice find community and resources through social media. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have given people of all backgrounds the platform to share their personal stories and support others with similar experiences. Leaning on your family, friends, and even your employer will be critical to succeeding on a journey to single parenthood as well. You can also check out the following resources that support single parents.
- Mocha SMC: Founded by two Black single mothers by choice to support other women of color who are choosing to become moms.
- Fatherly: A helpful resource for fathers in general, with many articles on single fatherhood.
- Single Mothers By Choice: One of the first and leading organizations to advocate for single mothers by choice
How Carrot can help
At Carrot, supporting single parents by choice is essential to ensuring fertility care is accessible to all. Carrot members have access to Carrot Experts, who can walk individuals through the family-forming paths we mentioned above, financial support to help make funding the process easier, and other inclusive offerings like not requiring an infertility diagnosis to use our services. Carrot also partners with adoption agencies, donor agencies, and law firms who can help you on your journey. All Carrot partners are vetted for LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and we also provide access to BIPOC providers.
If you're an employer interested in learning more about fertility support for single parents by choice, get in touch with us.
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