A growing number of single women are choosing to become solo parents. Rather than waiting for “Mr Right” and risk the chance of motherhood completely, women are now choosing sperm donors and IVF to achieve their dreams of being a mother.
Last night’s episode of SBS’s Insight revealed this increasing trend when it asked the question: why are more people choosing to become single parents?
At just 26, Stephanie Holt has chosen to create a family on her own and is undergoing IVF treatment.
“My twin sister and I were in and out of foster care – I needed to have a family to fill the hole that I missed out growing up in,” she told Insight.
“A lot of my friends think I’m crazy because I’m so young, but I guess they’ve accepted it … They know this is something that I really want and they know that it’s not for them,” she said.
In her yearlong quest to undergo IVF, Stephanie visited two different doctors (the first refused to refer her for IVF) before receiving the go-ahead.
“I had multiple counselling sessions so that they knew what I was [getting] into, and once I was finally cleared by a counsellor, then I did my first IUI [Intrauterine insemination],” she explained.
Solo-mum Antia Fox, 41, is typical of a number of professional women who decided to have a child on their own in their late-thirties. She spent $35,000 on IVF and now has a two-year-old daughter, Grace. She says her daughter’s birth was “the happiest day of my life”, but her solo-IVF journey was often confronting.
“When you are a single person and you want to access IVF, you have to be deemed medically ‘infertile’ in order to be able to access the Medicare benefits and to be able to access IVF. So they classify you as 'socially infertile' which is a pretty confronting term, or it was for me.”
Solo-parenthood doesn’t come without it’s serious struggles. Amanda Hendren, 43, who has gone through the process and has a son, admits that early on motherhood didn’t give her the sense of value she expected.
“All of a sudden I couldn't run anymore and I was stuck at home without a job. I had to admit that motherhood didn't give me any value and that was really hard, because you pay a lot of money and you go against a lot of social norms and then to actually say ‘I don't love it’ – it was really quite hard,” she says.
Amanda’s son Elijah is now five, and fortunately, Amanda has found joy in being a mother, “I can’t imagine life without him,” she says.
It’s not just women choosing to solo parent – an increasing number of men are also deciding to forgo the wait for a partner and start a family on their own. Dad of three, Anthony Stralow used his sperm, an egg donor and two overseas surrogates to create the family he always wanted.
“I'd had a series of relationships that didn't work out and I turned 40 and I'd been investigating different options for a long time,” he said.
Although Anthony doesn’t have the time pressures of a biological clock, his own medical condition helped encourage him to make the decision.
“I'm a Type 1 diabetic so I didn't know what my life span is going to be and I want to have lots of energy for the kids. I don't want to be an old dad, you know?”
If you missed the show you can watch the full episode online on SBS On Demand.