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InJane Mattes was busy looking into adoption in hopes of becoming a mother.

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A growing awareness that you don't need to have a partner in order to become a parent, however, is changing this narrative—including for people who are deciding to become single parents by choice in their 20s, well before the "ticking clock" enters the conversation. In the spring ofthe reproductive health Deciding to become a single mother Modern Fertility and wedding registry website Zola surveyed thousands of people about their timelines for marriage and having kids and found that 27 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "I don't feel like I need a partner to become a parent.

Interviews with those who have chosen to become parents without a partner and researchers in this space not only support that assertion, but reveal how greater visibility for this group is helping to break down stigmas regarding the choice and offering a window through which others can see what taking this step can look like in action. For many people who have been conditioned to see having before getting married—or even being in a committed relationship—as taboo, this can be especially eye-opening While Kelly says she would like a partner in the future, she decided she didn't want not finding the right person to postpone her dreams of becoming a mom.

She started researching all the different ways someone can become a parent without a partner, including in vitro fertilization IVFadoption, and fostering a temporary arrangement in which adults provide for the care of or children whose birth parent is unable to care for them. Ultimately, she says she decided to pursue IVF. Having the financial resources to devote to the process also factored into her decision. The more she started talking to friends and family about what she hoped to do, the more she learned that the decision to become a single parent by choice actually wasn't all that unusual in her circles.

I had always just assumed it was the other way around. Kelly's next step was booking an appointment with a fertility specialist at Modern Fertility to see if IVF could even be an option for her. At her appointment, she found out that if having a biological child was something she truly wanted, sooner was better than later. So, Kelly moved forward. While Kelly says her friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive of her decision to pursue solo parenting, due to COVID restrictions, she's gone through the process largely on her own.

Her mom picked her up from the hospital after procedures that required anesthesia, but Kelly gave herself the injectable medications needed to get her body ready for the egg retrieval process.

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She went alone to her appointments for retrieving the eggs and then implanting them. The eggs could sit in a freezer for however long I wanted to pay for them to be there. Then, they are fertilized, and after that, they are transferred into the uterus.

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If it works, I'd become pregnant. That was a real moment for me, but it wasn't one I was freaked out by.

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I felt excited to be starting my family, not worried. Mattes says she founded the organization inshortly after becoming a single parent herself. Because this was before the Internet, her new social network of solo parents communicated through snail mail. Mattes connected people in the group with each other and, over the decades, the network has grown to over 30, members. Now, there are local chapters where Single Mothers By Choice members can meet up in person in addition to connecting on the site.

Mattes says she's witnessed more people becoming single parents by choice through the growth of the organization. For so long, women were told, 'You can't raise without a father,' and that was stated as a fact in the media by many people—particularly men—in positions of authority. She also says she's seeing a shift in the age of people who are becoming single parents by choice. For Kelly, having the space to think about and pursue IVF during the pandemic played a crucial part in her solo parenting journey.

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But as she mentioned, she was also tired of waiting to find the perfect person to settle down with first. And she's far from the only one.

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Simply put, dating is hard. According to Pew Research75 percent of single adults describe dating as very difficult. Two-thirds of those who are single and looking for a relationship or dates say their dating life is either going not too well or not at all well.

Deciding to parent

As this data and Mattes's observations show, more people are having trouble finding a partner they can see themselves having kids with. They're also seeing examples of what being a single parent by choice looks like in action. And that combination is shifting parenthood as we know it. Bethany Anne Moorea single foster parent and adoptive parent of three, says she's always had the desire to get married and have a family, but like Kelly, she reached her mids still searching for the perfect partner. It was something I could really do.

Initially, Moore was solely focused on fostering. But when the opportunity to adopt one of her placements presented itself, she says she felt it in her heart to do it. Now, she's adopted three kids through foster care.

Reasons why people are pursuing single parenthood

When she started fostering, Moore didn't know any single foster or adoptive parents, but she quickly found others through social media. Like Moore, Elizabeth Friedland is also a single foster and adoptive mom. She says that she was initially drawn to fostering because she wanted to experience motherhood without necessarily committing to it permanently. Friedland began fostering when she was 33, knowing that it's meant to be temporary and the ultimate goal is to reunite foster children with their biological family.

When should you take the leap to be a single mother by choice?

Jack, now her son, was her fifth placement. When the opportunity to adopt him arose, she wholeheartedly said yes.

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She also recently adopted a baby girl. Friedland says when she initially began fostering, she didn't know any single foster parents—she didn't know any single moms, period.

A decision sparked—and made easier—by the pandemic

But through social media, she's become connected to both single foster parents and single adoptive parents. Friedland says she's also part of a closed Facebook group of single foster and adoptive parents with almost 6, members. Like Mattes, she says she's noticed a shift in many women in their 20s starting to pursue single parenthood; they are seeing others do it and start visualizing what their life could look like in this way, too.

It's important to acknowledge that single-parenthood still a stigma attached to it.

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In a Pew Research Center surveytwo-thirds of adults said that more single women raising children on their own was bad for society. Moore says it's a viewpoint many still have and that she's regularly confronted with.

But many people have told me that they think what I'm doing is sinful and that God wants kids to be raised by a husband and wife," she says. In a Pew Research Center survey, two-thirds of adults said that more single women raising children on their own was bad for society. Christina Grange, PhDan associate professor of psychology at Clayton State University who studies unmarried Black parents, says this stigma is even stronger for Black women.

Grange is also an unmarried parent, a term she says is more accurate in relation to her life because she has a partner who is a co-parent. Grange says this is not only an unfair and problematic viewpoint, it's an inaccurate one. Mainstream American culture may be changing to be more accepting of single parents by choice, but cultural change is slow, and as Dr.

She also points out that portrayals of single parenthood in the media vary by race. But that same treatment isn't given to Black women," Dr. Grange says. Despite the stigma, Mattes—who is a psychotherapist—says just because is being raised by one parent instead of two doesn't mean they are lacking in love or support. What matters most, Dr. Grange and Mattes say, is having a support system as well as adequate financial resources.

2. consider the ways your life will change

Both experts say this support system can come in the form of family, friends, houses of worship or religious groups, and social networks like the ones Moore and Friedland are a part of. Both Friedland and Moore emphasize that single parenthood isn't easy. But neither says they regret their choice. As for Kelly, though she's at the very start of her parenthood journey, she says she feels empowered with her decision.

I feel so much stronger because of this. Oh hi! Enter Address. Your official excuse to add "OOD" ahem, out of doors to your cal. Become an Insider. Facebook Pinterest Twitter Youtube Instagram. T he ticking clock. The phrasing is outdated smartwatches and phones have pretty much replaced anything that ticks but the idea of a biological ticking clock still haunts many people of a certain age—at least those who want to have. According to a Pew Research studythe desire to have kids is still one of the driving reasons why people want to get married; 49 percent of people surveyed cited it as "very important" factor.

Related Stories. Experts Referenced.

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Christine Grange, PhD. Founder, Single Mothers By Choice. Tags: Parenting Advice. Loading More Posts Featured Collection. Close Close.

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