More Women Choosing Single Motherhood

Single women choosing to be single moms. It's a scenario that was once taboo -- even discouraged. Now it's a growing trend.

Watch "Nightline" on Thursday at 11:35 p.m. for the full story.

With more women focusing on their educations and careers, relationships are often put on the back burner. That is until a woman's biological clock goes off, usually around age 35.

Debbie Elkins was 46 years old, living in Manhattan and working in a high-profile position at a direct advertising firm when she realized something was missing from her life.

"Since I was 20 or 30, I would see a baby and my heart would melt, and there needed to be a child in my life," she said.

Elkins, like many women her age, felt the pressures of wanting a child but realized that in the modern age she didn't need a relationship with a man to make her dream possible. So she turned to an anonymous sperm donor to make her a mom.

"I never thought I would do it alone," Elkins said." I never wanted to do it alone. I always wanted to have children but time was running out."

Not Waiting

In a March Lifetime Television poll, 35 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 29 said they would definitely or probably consider having a baby without being married or in a serious relationship. And as they get older, what was once a consideration is proving true. Places like California Cryobank, one of the largest sperm banks in the country, reports that single women make up 32 percent of the clients who buy sperm from its bank.

Fertility centers like those at New York University were originally set up for infertile couples. Now doctors consult with a growing number of single women looking to tackle motherhood alone.

"We're definitely seeing more single women," said Dr. Shelley Lee, a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services at NYU. "And particularly women who are professional women, who built a career and then realized that they missed the opportunity to be in a partnership or build a relationship to have a child, and I think many of the women I see for donor sperm expected that somehow they would have met somebody and they would have had a child in the context of the relationship. And then when they recognized their biological clock was really running out, this was a great option for them."

Louise Sloan is eight months pregnant and due to give birth one day before her 43rd birthday. Her baby was also conceived by using anonymous donor sperm.

"I want to see what it's like to be pregnant," Sloan said. "I want to have the experience of breast-feeding if I can. It's such an important part of what we do as human beings, and I want that part of the human experience. And I want to see a little bit of myself in a child, or a little bit of my mom."

Sloan tried upward of 30 times with fertility treatments to get pregnant, suffering one miscarriage in the process.

Fertility treatments are costly and many aren't covered by insurance. Most women told us that they paid anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 per treatment, and in the end, women like Debbie Elkins realized she needed to get egg and sperm donations in order to get pregnant.

But Elkins did indeed get pregnant. Her son, Jacob, is a healthy and happy 2½ year old. Elkins' days are busy. She works full-time and takes care of Jacob by herself on weekends. Perhaps, in the end, there isn't too much of a difference between these single mothers who chose to be single moms and other single moms who find themselves in the role of sole caretaker.

"I think we all joke that single mothers by choice is just the wrong name. It's sort of single mothers by default," Elkins said. "It's the same way that, you know, when you used to read articles like, women are waiting to have children. Who's waiting? I have not consciously said I am going to wait until I am 46 to have a child. I'm not waiting; it's just how my life worked out."

Comments