I am soon to be 35 and divorced. Together with my ex-husband I have a daughter, Anine who is 4 years old. My daughter really wants siblings and I would like to give her siblings, as I am very attached to my own siblings, and I do not quite feel that I am done with pregnancy / babies. But I can’t figure out whether it’s selfish to have a donor child on my own. The child will grow up with Anine being on weekends and holidays with her father, she has several grandparents, etc. and the child “only” has me and my family. How will it possibly affect a child mentally?
Thank you so much for your good question. We know that there are a lot of single women who are going through similar considerations before deciding to have a child with the help of a donor – whether they already have a child, like you, or their first child. Therefore, we are convinced that there are many who would benefit from knowing that there are others like them, and that they are not alone with their questions and doubts.
The thoughts you have are highly relevant to have in advance, and it is important that you have come to terms with that your that your second child will have different circumstances than Anine. But having said that, you will soon find out that you shouldn’t feel pity for a child that is born without a father and that you can easily make that decision with good conscience. It will not be a lack in the child’s life as it will be just the way it is and the way it has always been – just as it has become normal for Anine that her mother and father do not live together.
Of course, questions will pop up and you will also experience some challenges along the way, but it is even more important that you are centain of your decision beforehand and certain that it is a conscious choice you stand by. That way, it won’t be a problem for your child either. Our best recommendation is that you address it to the child as early as possible and in this way continuously consider the questions the child could get. If the child, of course, sees that he or she has come into the world without a father, then it will not be a deprivation, but merely a basic condition. The more relaxed you are about the situation and create a space for the child where it’s OK to think it is difficult when big sister is going on a weekend with dad, the easier it will be for all of you and especially for the child to accept your family constellation.
While you may think it seems like a selfish choice to go this route, you may also say that the choice to have a child – no matter which way – is always selfish. Just because you are in a relationship, the desire to have a child is no more real and less selfish than if you choose to pursue your dream of parenthood as a single.
Having a child is a deep desire for many, just as it is also important to you that Anine is given the opportunity to have a sibling, as you yourself know what joy it has given you in your childhood and what unique relationship you can form. I also don’t think you have to think too much about whether the child will be missing something in relation to “only” having you and your family, while Anine also has her father and his family. From day one, the child will know that this is the way it is and you and your family will certainly have the opportunity to give the child all the love and attention the child needs. And that’s what counts in the end. Just because a child does not have a large family and many grandparents does not mean that he or she will miss anything – on the contrary, as you will be aware that these are the conditions under which the child was born.
Several studies also show that single-parent donor children do just as well as other children. The studies look at many different parameters and also address the donor children both in childhood and adulthood. Thus, there is nothing to indicate that children are more likely to encounter psychological challenges or have other life problems that other children do not encounter. Again, it is also important to point out here that the sooner you articulate the topic, the easier it will be for the child to deal with and accept the situation.
I myself know families in all possible family constellations and also know many families who are in exactly the same situation as you describe. The vast majority of families do not experience any problems, and it is also clear that they have always been very open about the topic to both themselves and the social circle, but also to the child. However, I also know of some families where little sister or little brother think it is difficult that big sister or big brother has a relationship with a father. However, the problem is no point too big that the decision to become a single mom with the help of a donor is questioned. Here again, it is very important that you have accepted your decision to go this way and that you can stand by it. Of course, you do a lot of thinking in advance and it’s only healthy, but in the end you need to have the feeling that you are making the right decision for yourself and your family, in order to handle situations that may be difficult in the future. In this way, you give your future child the best possible starting point for having a wonderful childhood, where he or she feels wanted and completely “normal”.
Maybe you have already read Pia’s story here, which is very similar to your situation. If you would like, I would be very happy to contact Pia. Before she chose to become Oliver’s solo mom, she had many of the same thoughts as you, because she already had a son, Mathias, with her ex-husband. Mathias always has and always will have contact with his father, and she knew in advance that Oliver would not have the same opportunity. But it has never been a problem, nor a need that Oliver has had. I definitely think it could good for you to talk to a woman who has been in a similar situation and has had the same thoughts, and if you are interested in having a talk with Pia, then I would love to help you to establish contact – also because I know how important it is to be completely clear and calm before making such a big decision.
In conclusion, I just want to say that it sounds like you have thought very much about it beforehand. Sometimes you may just need the last confirmation that the decision is just right for you, before you dare to make the leap. Remember to pay attention and remember to stand by your decision – whatever it may be. I wish you all the best of luck on your way!