21 Feb Preparation and Planning Doubly Important for Single Intended Parents
Times have changed since Candace Bergen TV character Murphy Brown’s decision to have a child without the benefit of a husband scandalized middle class viewers and became an issue in a presidential election. But even though advances in assisted reproductive technology have given single prospective parents lots more options, the number of men and women choosing to go it alone remains relatively small. The reason, no doubt: The prospect of parenting a child alone, physically, mentally and financially, for 18 years or more is a daunting one. But for a mature, responsible adult who has considered the pros and cons, is willing to do some planning and preparation, and is genuinely committed to becoming a parent, ART can be an option.
For many single intended parents, one of the biggest obstacles is financial. As we wrote earlier in our article, Kansas Sperm Donor Trapped by DIY Insemination Loophole, women who want to conceive via sperm donation face a steep financial hurdle, sometimes motivating them to seek out informal arrangements that may result in unintended future consequences:
The motivation is often financial: artificial inseminations performed by a doctor or licensed fertility clinic can cost $3,000 or more—per round. Because artificial insemination often is not successful the first time, multiple rounds of insemination are sometimes required before pregnancy is achieved, the bill mounting by the thousands for each successive round.
For men who want to become fathers via surrogacy, egg donation and in vitro fertilization, the bill is even steeper. Each cycle with an egg donor can cost as much as $20,000. Medical care and other support for surrogates can add tens of thousands more to the cost.
And that’s all before the child is born. A single working professional will have to consider childcare costs, along with all the other associated costs of raising and educating a child.
Another challenge single parents face is the absence of a partner to turn to when being a mom or dad gets tough. All parents face physical challenges, such as getting up and getting to work each day after being up with a fussy baby all night, or juggling a demanding job with soccer practice and parent-teacher conferences. A couple, or co-parents, can take turns juggling; single parents have to be prepared to carry the entire load. Support of friends and family—a loving babysitter, a nearby grandmother—can make all the difference.
Single parents not only face the physical challenges of limited time and energy on their own, but the mental and emotional stresses that are part of parenting as well: the worry over a high fever, the tension of enforcing rules, the responsibility of comforting a child who has been teased at school. Sometimes the emotional challenges can seem tougher than the physical ones. Here again, close friends and family—someone to talk to—can make all the difference.
Despite the numerous challenges, many people do chose to parent alone. If you are considering taking this significant life-changing step, here are some things to consider before jumping in:
- Plan ahead. Even for intended parents who are in a committed relationship, careful planning and preparation is essential. Research the assisted reproductive technologies available to you, including estimated costs, projected success rates, and expected time frame from beginning ART to birth. Pay off bills and make a “baby budget.” Don’t forget to allow for worst-case scenarios and unexpected expenses.
- Line up your “pit crew.” Who will help you when the baby comes? Mom, a sister, close friends? Can you take time off work without endangering your financial wellbeing? What child care options are available to you if you plan to return to work?
- Ensure your new family is legally secure. Becoming a single parent is no time to skimp on legal services. Ensure you have properly executed agreements with sperm donor, egg donor, surrogates or any other parties involved in your ART procedures. And consider your child’s future. Wills, estate planning and guardian arrangements are essential for any parent; for a single parent they are doubly so. Make sure your child is protected and provided for, regardless of what the future holds.