If you’re thinking about becoming a single mother by choice, you’ve got some hard decisions ahead of you. Believe me, I know!
It took me years to get off the fence and consider the option, let alone do something about it.
What tipped the balance for me was finding the support of women who’d already done it.
So today I thought I’d share with you places you can turn to de-mystify the process. You’ll also benefit from getting to know women who have gone before you or may even walk by your side.
The decision to become a parent is huge whatever your situation. But if you’re single it’s so huge it’s often impossible to know how to move forward. Without the catalyst of love and passion to get you started even getting to the first step is a painful process.
Becoming a single mother by choice is a lonely decision
Only YOU can decide it’s the right thing to do. Only YOU can get the ball rolling. And even then you’re never 100% sure whether it’s something you should even consider. What will your friends and family think? How will you cope? Can you afford it?
It’s a massive step into the unknown because chances are you don’t know anyone who’s already done it.
I didn’t. All my friends with kids were in couples – happy or otherwise. I had no point of reference.
The first step I took was to join an online support forum. In 2009 I was living in Sydney. At 37 I was painfully aware that my window of opportunity to have a family the traditional way was diminishing fast.
So one day I googled ‘single mother by choice’. I only knew the term because I’d edited a story about a single mother when I was working for a magazine in London. In the Google search results I stumbled across SMC Australia – and what a stroke of luck.
SMC Australia is an online forum with hundreds of members who are either thinking about going it alone, trying to conceive or already mothers. It’s a wealth of information, support and inspiration.
Every question you could ever think of about becoming and being a single mother has probably already been asked and answered. From which clinics to use, how to choose a donor, how to pay for it all, and how to tell your family. It’s all there.
Meeting other single mothers
Not long after I joined SMC Australia I went along to one of their Sydney meet-ups. I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect, but what I found was a group of ordinary women. Mums who seemed just like any other mum I knew and confused worried souls like myself looking for reassurance. We found it in bucket-fulls.
Not only did I become friends with women I met through SMC Australia, but I’m also in touch with two of women who used the same sperm donor as I did. Our daughters are half-siblings. How bizarre is that? But I digress…
My point is this. If you’re even vaguely considering single motherhood as an option you should seek out an online support group – local to you if possible.
Not only did I find help along every step of the journey, it also helped me normalise the choice to be a single mum. It turned something ‘other women’ did into something I could imagine doing myself.
So, here are six places where you can find information and support from other women on your journey to single motherhood, and beyond.
Unfortunately there isn’t a forum devoted solely to single mothers by choice in the UK – not that I’ve discovered anyway (maybe I should start one!). But here’s where you can turn for support and information:
Fertility Friends is the leading infertility community in the UK. It’s not a private forum but within their ‘donor conception’ board they have a section for single women.
It’s worth checking out for local information about clinics, discussions about how to conceive, donors and to find out about regular local meet-ups.
The DCN is a network of more than 2,000 mainly UK based families with children conceived with donated sperm, eggs or embryos. It’s also for anyone considering or undergoing donor conception procedures. Donor-conceived people are also members.
Membership is £45 a year and then you can join local groups, attend workshops and access advice and support.
I joined the DCN when I first moved back to the UK in 2013 and was disappointed they didn’t have an active online forum. I’m not a member now, so maybe this has improved since then.
However they do have excellent offline opportunities to connect with other single women and attend meet-ups. Oh, and they sell great children’s books about donor conception to read with your child, once you have one.
If you’re in Australia you’re in luck as you have a fantastic single by mother by choice resource to turn to:
Initially founded in 2002 by two women today there are over 400 active members with over 200 babies and children. Members include women who are in the thinking stages, pregnant or mothers of babies through to teenagers.
SMC Australia has a very lively, active and private forum where information and friendship are shared in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. Seriously, you can ask ANYTHING SMC, fertility treatment or parenting related and within hours, if not minutes, you’ll have answers from supportive, wise women.
There are also regular face-to-face gatherings in all capital cities and many other locations around Australia as well as an annual SMC holiday and many smaller regional and state-based holidays.
I not sure I would have made it to motherhood without this group. It’s the first place I’ve turn when I need to chat with other women in the same situation. At the moment I don’t find I need to do that very often, but I’m sure the time will come!
There are far more extensive resources for single mothers, or ‘choice moms’, in the US. As a social phenomenon choice motherhood has a longer history in the US than elsewhere purely because of their huge population.
Choice Moms is an brilliant library of resources for single mothers by choice and women contemplating going it alone.
Founded by Mikki Morrisette who also wrote the book I wrote about recently, ‘Choosing Single Motherhood’, this is an authoritative, well-researched source of information about every aspect of the SMC journey.
Jane Mattes a psychotherapist and single mother by choice founded Single Mothers by Choice in 1981. Over 30,000 thinkers, tryers, and mothers have enjoyed the benefits of membership since it began. Membership costs $55 a year.
The main purpose is to provide support and information to single women who are considering, or have chosen, single motherhood. There are local groups all over the US, and in Canada, Europe, and beyond. There’s also a lively online private discussion forum and newsletter.
There are over 1000 members of this group for single women who have had children by themselves, or are thinking about it.
I’m a member of this group, and while it has a US bias there are members from all over the world. It’s certainly somewhere I’d turn to ask questions and get information as my daughter gets older.
Have you joined a forum or support group for single mothers by choice? Have I missed any that you’ve found helpful? Let me know in the comments.
Please note: I am not a fan of the term ‘single mother by choice’ – as you might be aware if you’ve read this post – but I use it throughout this site because it is the commonly used term to describe this journey to motherhood.