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Choice Moms Are Getting Younger


a blog by Mikki Morrissette September 10, 2010

I’ve noticed an interesting trend the last few years in the stories I’m learning about through my website. Many of the women choosing single motherhood these days are younger than what I would consider the norm.

In general, women have been in their mid-30s when they realize — after postgraduate degrees, career trajectories, divorce — they don’t have much time for creating a family. Most of the hundreds of Choice Moms I have met over the years fall under this category. But lately I’m hearing from women in the United States, Canada and Australia in particular who are in their late 20s when they are seeking information on the website.

In the last few weeks I’ve communicated with about 20 of them, to get a better sense of why they felt ready to proceed with motherhood, even though most people tell them technically they have a few more years to “look” before their fertility wanes. There are three main reasons they give for stepping into single motherhood:

  • I want to have more than one child.
  • I’ve heard about how difficult it can be to conceive and how expensive it can be when fertility is challenged in later years, and I don’t want that to be me.
  • Frankly, I have a burning desire to be a mother, and finding a partner is something I can take more time with in order to get it right, if at all.

I will be sharing more details about their stories over time on — stories about women like:

  • Beth, who is in the process of finishing her home study for foster care adoption. Now 31, originally she had intended to start the process when she was 28 if “traditional family life” didn’t happen first. But she was studying for the ministry at the time, so waited a few more years.
  • Cassie, on the verge of an IVF cycle, who was impacted 18 months ago by flash flooding and decided she had nothing to show for her life. When a friend asked what she thought was missing, the words spilled out before she’d even consciously processed them: “I want to have a baby.” As she explained, “I don't feel like I need a baby to 'complete' me. To be honest, I have very little interest in finding a partner. I have been blessed with amazing and supportive friends, who inspire me to be a better person. I have found it hard for a partner to compete with that. I feel like all my love and energy is being directed towards this little person I haven’t even met yet, and I don’t want to take any of that away to give to someone else.”
  • Lillian, who explained her decision this way, “I can imagine my life without a spouse. It was being without a child I couldn't imagine. When I daydreamed about my life years down the road, I always saw myself raising a child. It isn't that I don't have positive marriage models. My parents have been happily married for more than 35 years. I have lots of examples of great marriages around me, but it just never called to me in the same way that having a child did.”
  • Jess, who was 27 when she started researching this path, and is about to try her first IUI at age 29. “I am emotionally fulfilled and financially sound. I have traveled, lived overseas, taken risks in my career, worked hard and studied hard too. I have ticked the many boxes. Can I please have a family now?” She expects someday she’ll be able to find the right partner, without bringing in the emotional baggage of having a family that was torn apart from divorce.
  • Krista, like many, has put a lot of thought into the decision. “I read your book, visited websites and met with fertility doctors. I wanted to gather as much information as I could to evaluate if I could wait a few more years or if I should start the process now. There was always this voice in the back of my head that kept whispering, ‘What if you don’t get pregnant right away? What if you are like many women who struggle to conceive? If you wait and then struggle, will you be faced with more decisions and the possibility of more costly options? As time went by it was evident that although this wasn’t how I dreamed my life would be, it was the right decision for me.’”
  • Evelyn, 32, is divorced after a brief marriage. “The beginning of the end was when I realized that I did not want this man to be the father of my children. Fortunately we didn't become pregnant together, but that then led me to start thinking of going it on my own. It has also changed the way I've approached dating. I realized that my initial focus had been on love and passion — unsteady things — then would throw the desire to have children at them.”
  • One mother of a 2-year-old, now considering having a second child, told me: “I had a moment of crisis on a date and had to admit that I was just there because he had good genes. The next day I googled ‘sperm banks’ and, somehow, found a story about a Choice Mom. It was a moment of ‘YES! That's what I want!’ I don't believe that every person is meant to be in a relationship. Some of us are meant to be single and, some of us are supposed to be single parents. Realizing this about myself made my life so much easier.”

There are obviously many women who decide they do prefer to have a partner, and opt for “no” or “let’s wait a few more years” to this choice. And there are others who reluctantly enter into motherhood alone, describing it as a “no choice” option because of age. But for a growing number of women — based on the age shift I’m starting to see in the women who visit — it is interesting to me that this is very much a positive choice they are making in order to become the kind of parent they want to be.

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