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Single Mother by Choice, Adrienne Farr, Shares Her Advice

Single Mother by Choice, Adrienne Farr, Shares Her Advice

Jessica Butler
Single Mother by Choice, Adrienne Farr, Shares Her Advice

“Don’t wait because somebody told you it's supposed to happen a certain way.”

Journalist Adrienne Farr is a single mother by choice to 4-year-old daughter Madison, who was conceived using a sperm donor. Below, Farr shares her advice on selecting a donor, explaining sperm donation to kids, and the one thing she urges every woman on this path to do.

Join A Group Of Single Mothers By Choice

Around 35, I was like, “I think I want to have kids,” At the time, I wasn’t seeing anybody. I actively started pursuing it when I was 38.  I don’t remember how I heard of Single Mothers by Choice — it could have been Google – but their home base is in New York, so I decided to go to a couple of meetings.

My entire world was opened up. There was so much information and so many women my age and older that wanted to have kids. I thought, “Hey, this might be the path that I am going to take.”

Open versus Anonymous Sperm Donors

I absolutely considered using someone I knew. I had a list of guys in my head. I even contacted an ex-boyfriend, who was the love of my life, but he ended up being even more of jerk when we reconnected.

My friend’s brother was on the list, but when I mentioned it to her in passing, I felt like she wasn’t comfortable with it, and I didn’t want to put any strain on our relationship.

I ended up asking a guy I met in college. We had been really good friends, but never romantic. I sent him a letter and asked, and he called and he said he wasn’t opposed to it but wanted the family life. It would have led to us trying to have a relationship, and that just wasn’t what I wanted. That’s when I began looking at sperm donors.

Ways To Narrow Down Donors

Looking at sperm banks was the hardest thing. Where do you even start? I finally narrowed it down to Manhattan Cryobank, because it was located in my state, and then I put in parameters: I wanted the donor to be African-American, and I wanted him to be an open donor.

It’s very important to understand that an egg or sperm donor is not a mother or father to your child.

My advice is to decide a) what race you would prefer your donor to be, and b) if you want an open or anonymous donor. Open means the donor has agreed to contact with the child once they reach 18 years of age. Anonymous donors have asked not to be contacted.

I absolutely wanted an open donor. I was already making a huge decision for my child — to not have a father, which is big. I’m not going to pretend like that’s not a big deal. I wanted to allow them the opportunity to connect.

Understand The Role Of A Donor

It’s very important to understand that an egg or sperm donor is not a mother or father to your child.

One of the fertility clinics I considered required clients to speak with a psychologist for a better understanding of the situation. I’ll never forget, the first thing she asked me was, “Is the donor a donor, or is the donor a father?” I said, “father.” And she said, “No. The donor is not the father.”

If that’s your narrative — the donor is a father — then it’s almost like you’re child has an absent father. It creates a kind of longing or expectation that maybe he’s going to show up one day, and you may transfer that unhealthy longing onto your child.

Form a Support System

It’s hard to go through it all alone. I would have loved for somebody to have gone through all the steps with me, come to the appointments, waited in the waiting room. And I could have had that, but personally, I just didn’t want to reveal what I was doing. The one person I did have to tell early on was my boss because there’s a portion of the process where you’re at the doctor multiple times a week, getting your blood tested, checking your levels. So I had to tell her, and she was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant.

I also told my family right away, but I waited eight or twelve weeks before I told my friends.

The amount of support I got was amazing. I remember one of my coworkers saying that her sister used a donor, and that’s when I realized that everyone is living in some sort of alternative situation.

Explaining Sperm Donation To Kids

From minute one, day one, I have always told my daughter who she has in her family. “You have a mommy, you have a grandmommy, an uncle, aunt, cousins.” I would constantly list the people in her family and focus on what she did have, not what she didn’t have, and that became part of her psyche. Around Mother’s Day, her teacher said, “Be sure to ask your daddies to help you make something for your moms.” She said, “I don’t have a daddy, but I have a grandmommy and an uncle and an aunt,” and she went down the line, matter of fact.

I don’t want any surprises. It’s the surprises that do the damage.

I explained that in order to make a baby, it takes sperm from a man and an egg from a woman, and that some women have to go to a doctor so the doctor can help them get pregnant. I told her that there are nice men all around who donate sperm to the hospital so that women like me can get pregnant. I just broke it so she could understand. I don’t want any surprises. It’s the surprises that do the damage.

Keep A Journal

For anyone that’s going through this journey, you should absolutely journal. I have a detailed journal of everything I was going through for my daughter to read whenever she’s old enough. She can read the ups and downs, my thought process, and the humanness behind the decisions I made.

Don’t Wait For Marriage

We women assume we’re not going to have kids unless we get married. I don’t want the next generation to feel that way. Everybody has this ideal in their mind that two parent households are always lilies and roses, but they’re not. Having a mom and a dad doesn’t automatically mean your child is going to be well adjusted and happy. Not at all.

Too many women wait too long, and the window closes, and that’s a shame. Don’t wait because somebody told you it’s supposed to happen a certain way.

Single Mother by Choice, Adrienne Farr, Shares Her Advice
c/o Adrienne Farr
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