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Single Mom By Choice

Top things to consider when starting a family as a single mom.

Photograph: ©Aldo Murillo/istockphoto.com

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Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Thankfully, people don’t need to fit into an outdated ideal in order to have the special relationship of a parent and child. More and more, I am consulting and working with single women who want to start their families. They are doing it on their terms, without settling.

A woman who chooses to be a single mom will make decisions unique to her circumstances. As a reproductive endocrinologist, I view my role as helping my patients become moms – not simply to get pregnant. That is why I recommend they do research and talk to professionals and single moms about the experience. To help meet my patients’ needs for more information, my fertility practice is launching singlemomstobe.com, a resource for single women who want to know about becoming moms.

Here are some of the most common topics that my single patients consider as part of their journey to becoming a mom.

How do I choose a sperm donor?

For most single women, choosing a sperm donor is the most complex topic they will consider when starting a family. Most women choose to work with a reputable sperm bank that is registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA requires sperm donors be tested for certain communicable and infectious diseases, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), types 1 and 2; Hepatitis B Virus (HBV); Hepatitis C Virus (HCV); Treponema pallidum (i.e. syphilis); Chlamydia trachomatis; Neisseria gonorrhea. Sperm donors’s medical history is also submitted for review.

There are three types of sperm donors:

Identity Release Donor, which is sometimes also called an Open Door Donor, gives the child the option to contact the donor, typically once the child reaches 18 years of age. Children of donor conception often feel a need to know more about their sperm donor. Also, there are medical benefits to being able to contact a donor in the future. This is the most common choice among my patients.

Known Donor is when a friend wants to give his sperm to help a single woman become a mom. Family lawyers recommend having a contract between friends to outline the sperm donor’s involvement, rights and financial obligations to the family and future child.

Anonymous Donor can be found through a sperm bank. As the name implies, an intended mom does not know the Anonymous Donor, including his name or other personal details. Recipients can choose a sperm donor based on basic characteristics such as race, academic achievements, looks and other factors. However, there are a growing number of websites and resources for donor-conceived children to help find their sperm donor; even “anonymous” donors may be discoverable. Patients should get additional sperm if they want to have another child with the same donor, making the children siblings rather than half siblings. Thinking about the next child may seem impossible when a patient is in the midst of treatment for the first child, but this foresight can be very important if you want a genetically linked second child.

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