The definition of a “family” has expanded in recent years to include all different situations for raising children—including female-only households that wouldn’t have it any other way. Advances in fertility and technology, along with more available options like donor sperm and “single-friendly” adoptions, have enabled more and more women to have babies on their own.
Tradition used to dictate that women had to wait for “Mr. Right,” get married, and then have children. These days, increasing numbers of women are taking matters into their own hands when the time is right for them and having children on their own.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the birth rate for unmarried women (widowed, divorced, and single) in 2007 was 80 percent higher than it was in 1980, and increased 20 percent between 2002 and 2007. The prevalence of divorce in this country has made single parenting more common and also helped to reduce its stigma.
The growing population of women who describe themselves as “single by choice” tend to be older, with college or advanced degrees, successful careers, and who have carefully planned for the decision to parent alone. They typically have the financial resources (in vitro fertilization, combined with the necessary fertility drugs and treatments, can cost anywhere from $12,000-$20,000) and a strong network of family and friends to offer support.
By the time they turn 30, about two-thirds of women in the US have had a baby. About 60 percent of single-by-choice moms become pregnant through an anonymous sperm donor, with approximately 20 percent choosing adoption. The other 20 percent usually achieve pregnancy through a known donor.
These women come from all backgrounds, ethnic groups, lifestyles, and religions, but they have one thing in common: they took on the joys and responsibilities of parenting alone.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- A growing number of women are becoming single parents.
- These women can be described as “single by choice.”
- About two-thirds of single American women have had a baby by the time they turn 30.
- Typically, they become pregnant through anonymous or known donors, or they adopt.