I just read an article in The Guardian about how more Danish women are opting to become single mothers via sperm donation, and now I feel a little sad. Because while I think the author wanted to make it sound like an upbeat, promising and independent-women trend, too many lines give away the fact that it is actually not a good time, so to speak.
But first some background: since 2007 in Denmark, from when single women have been offered free fertility treatment, there has been a huge increase in single mothers by choice (known as “solomor”). Now, one in 10 babies conceived with donor sperm is born to a single mother, which says a lot in a country which has the highest number of births by assisted fertility treatment in the world. And it seems that the trend is so present that the stigma is supposedly starting to shift.
Now usually I’d have to voice my opinion in my own words, but this article just gives away all the sad stuff. Here are some excerpts and my thoughts:
It’s a last resort decision
“The majority say that becoming a solomor was Plan B,” says Lone Schmidt, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Public Health: “Two thirds had been in a relationship and wanted to become pregnant but their partners weren’t ready… In other words, women are waiting it out, and when it becomes clear that there isn’t going to be a man in the picture, they’re taking action themselves.”
No one dreams of being a solo parent. As one interviewee in the article admitted, after her partner at the time didn’t want children, she thought about adoption (too long and expensive), having a baby with a friend (too complicated) and one-night stands (that would be stealing sperm) before deciding on donor conception. And why is it a last resort? I think it’s because we all intrinsically know that the most ideal, and least complex, situation for a child to come into the world is in the natural way – with a mother and father who love each other.
Who needs men anyway?
“Everyone I talked to was really supportive, apart from my dad who found the idea weird at first – as though it was negating the role of ‘fatherhood’.”
“My dad was funny about me using a donor at first – he’s from an older generation and I think it made him feel a bit redundant, as a man.”
I find it interesting that more than one interviewee’s father had a problem with the whole solomor situation. Because to be honest, anything that makes a whole gender redundant seems unnatural, doesn’t it? However, the dads in question make a very valid point. Yes, there are irreversible situations where a father is no longer present, but overall a world without present fathers would not be a good one. There are so many studies that show the importance of a father in their child’s life, and I hope anything else is never in style.
On the flip-side, the solomor trend commodifies men. In a subtle but sure way, it reduces them to their sperm.
The child’s needs come last
“I’d still love to meet someone and give my little girl a dad. For me, a father is so much more than a blob of sperm. A father is someone who makes the lunch boxes, says, ‘Good morning,’ and kisses good night. He’s the one who is always there for the child during its upbringing. I just haven’t met him yet.”
“Of course, the children of solomor may face other issues – like not knowing the identity of their donors. But Golombok’s research suggests that this needn’t be a problem if they’re told about how they were conceived early enough.”
Right, because learning about your conception nice and early will void all need of a father and replace the paternal role. And having a new dad will make you stop wondering about your biological father. Unfortunately, I don’t think so.
Yes, the solomor concept does present a better situation financially than a single mother who is not so by choice, and I think the women feel that they’re doing the right thing. But still, I find it somewhat selfish. A defenseless child’s needs should come first, whereas this sounds like it’s all about what’s convenient for the mothers in question.
Difficulties of assisted fertility
One thing that wasn’t mentioned is the difficulty and trials of fertility treatment. The article makes it sound so easy breezy to get pregnant this way, but from what I know, it’s invasive and can often take multiple attempts. And I’d assume there’d be quite a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the process.
We can see the consequences of other unhealthy trends
“My child won’t have a father,” says Christensen, “but lots of people grow up without a dad – my parents divorced when I was five. You never know how life will turn out.”
“I’d always dreamed of having three or four kids but the man I was in a relationship with in my 30s wasn’t ready. I met other men who mostly seemed to be interested in their careers – or their PlayStations – so I began to lose faith. I wasn’t anti men: I adore men! I just couldn’t find one who wanted kids. I saw lots of friends choose to become pregnant with boyfriends they knew wouldn’t last – purely because the desire to have a child took over. I also saw ‘traditional’ families breaking up all around me, so I thought, ‘Maybe I should just make this happen on my own.’”
These quotes, clear as day, show how other unhealthy trends have led to this. The first is divorce: it’s so common that people don’t realise the importance of two present parents; and everyone seems to assume it’ll happen anyway. What a sad way to be living! And the other trend: “man boys,” or men that don’t seem to ever grow up. Because as we now see, women are getting sick of waiting and are taking matters into their own hands, with potentially negative consequences.