Monday, February 27, 2006

Article: Choosing to Be a Single Mom

As part of my ongoing quest to learn and index everything I can about relationships, family, and marriage, I found an interesting article on sperm donor mothers...

Single mom Leann Mischel wanted her son to have a sibling -- a full-blooded sibling. But it wasn't looking good. The boy's father was out of the picture, so to speak. In fact, Mischel was just one of many women waiting on him. The Pennsylvania college professor reluctantly settled for her second choice.

And then Carla Schouten from San Jose had the gift of a lifetime for Mischel, 41 -- an extra vial of the father's sperm chilling in her doctor's refrigerator. Schouten's son was fathered by the same donor. The two women met on the Internet and bonded.

Some women have their book clubs, and others belong to professional groups. Some connect in therapy and others through sororities. But here is a relatively new connection: a group of 11 sharp, educated and independent women brought together by one man's sperm.

Not one of them has met the donor -- his identity is kept secret by Fairfax Cryobank in Virginia. He has fathered all of their children -- 11 so far, and Mischel's second child on the way.

My general philosophy is that people should be free to define their own relationships and families, but that freedom comes with a responsibility to work towards a better society for everyone. Your individual choices are your choices, and shouldn't be circumscribed unless they harm someone else. But no one is an island, and our choices have consequences far beyond the front doors of our homes.

This article points towards a perfect example of my view playing itself out. Certain women want to be mothers, but choose not to have the father play a role in raising their child, or can't because of the lack of a willing partner. Traditionalists might criticize their choices. But once you examine what's actually going on, it becomes clear that these mothers are very conscientious about how they conceive and raise their children, and have gone beyond the simple requirements of getting pregnant to build support networks and community for their alternative life choices.
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