Having a child is a huge decision, especially if you’re going it alone. A psychologist looks at the options.
For single women nearing the age of 40, that biological clock begins to tick really loudly. Waiting around for a man to show up may mean losing valuable time, both for a healthy baby and for still being a decent age once they hit high school. It isn't surprising that many women are considering raising a child alone.
Ways to become a single mom
South African sperm banks will be able to provide you with a choice of donors - you can know their age, appearance, personality, occupation and medical history.
This is an expensive option and you may need to try a number of times before you fall pregnant. However, you will experience the miracle of falling pregnant and the baby will be very much your own.
Single parents are able to adopt children and you can do so through accredited welfare adoption agencies across the country. You will work closely with a social worker who will put you through an intense screening process before you are approved. Adoption fees work on a sliding scale and the higher your income, the more you will pay for administration costs.
Adoptions can take long, especially if you very specific about the race and age of your child. Many of the agencies' waiting lists are full. For example, there are very few Caucasian babies available for adoption in South Africa.
You can also adopt a foreign baby from overseas, with Europe being the most popular choice. This is a highly expensive alternative, however.
Why do you want a child?
• Be very sure about the reasons why you want a child. Having a child isn't a cure for loneliness (in fact, it sometimes can only make it worse).
• You need to be emotionally, financially and mentally ready to be a parent, especially when you are doing it alone. It will help to see a psychologist or counsellor before you make your final decision to be absolutely sure you are ready. For example, if you are prone to depression or anxiety you may need treatment first.
• When you're alone you carry double the responsibility. You need to think about who can help you when your child is sick (and you're at work), who can babysit so you can have time out for yourself, etc.
• Children make a huge dent financially, especially on a single income.
• Relationships become complicated - both for the new man and for your child, who may become jealous and insecure after having mommy all to him or herself for a while.
• People may react negatively to your decision, thinking it is a disadvantage to the child to have only one parent. Although this can be true, having two parents is no guarantee that the child will be any better off. The type of parent you are is most important - if you are supportive, loving and discipline appropriately you are certainly on the road to raising a well-adjusted child.
• A real perk of going it alone is that you choose how to discipline your child, the environment he/she grows up in, and every other decision around their well-being. It's a huge responsibility, but as any mom will tell you, there is no greater gift in the world.
Books to read
Choosing single motherhood: The thinking woman's guide by Mikki Morrissette
Single mothers by choice: A guidebook for single women who are considering or have chosen motherhood by Jane Mattes
Choosing you: Deciding to have a baby on my own by Alexandra Soiseth
Is it right for a parent to choose to raise a child alone?