The New Normal: Stay-at-Home Dads, Gay Parents and More
There was a time when gay parents and single adoptive mothers were unheard of
Jo Trizila, 40, Single Mom to Kate, 2
Jo Trizila remembers the conversation with her mom that changed her life. It was her 35th birthday, and they were talking about how some of Trizila’s friends had gotten married just to have kids, and were miserable now. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do that. If I haven’t met the right guy by the time I’m 37, what would you and Dad think if I have a baby anyway?’ Mom said, ‘If you can afford a child, we’ll support you 100 percent.’ ”
By the time her 37th birthday rolled around, Trizila still hadn’t met the perfect man. By then she was running a public relations firm she’d founded— the kind of success that’s helping to fuel a rise in single-mom adoptions, notes Pertman, the adoption-institute executive director. “As women like Jo find good careers and their earnings grow, there’s less need to find a partner to make having a family feasible.”
Trizila considered getting pregnant, “but part of me was saying ‘Is it worth finding a sperm donor and doing in vitro? What about adoption?’ ” Yet adoption posed obstacles, too. The private agencies she approached all wanted married couples.
Then Trizila got a break: A colleague told her about a facilitator in California—a private agent who works with multiple private adoption agencies on a client’s behalf. “If you just approach a private agency on your own, that agency may only be in touch with a few pregnant women looking to place their baby in a good home. But because a facilitator touches base with lots of agencies, you’re on the radar of about a hundred different pregnant women. In most cases, the birth mom picks the adoptive parent, so that’s a huge help,” Trizila explains. By the summer of 2009, she was cleared to adopt. “I was told to expect a couple of years’ wait,” Trizila recalls. But that September, a woman due to give birth shortly selected her to raise her child.
That very same year, on December 5, Trizila became little Kate’s mother. “I’d never understood how you could love someone you’d never met. But I got it the moment I held Kate,” she says. Rocking her daughter in the maternity ward, she thought back to her own hospital stay as a teen, for a life-threatening brain abscess and aplastic anemia. “I’d always wondered why I had survived.That night with Kate, a voice in my head said, ‘You survived to be Kate’s mom.’ ”
While she’s a single mother, there are plenty of people in Kate’s orbit. Trizila is close with Kate’s three older sisters and great-grandparents. As for her own family? “They’re unfreakingbelievable!” she says. Her dad’s a doting grandfather, and her mom takes Kate to the Montessori school she attends every morning. Several male friends are in the mix, too. One “uncle” takes Kate to swim school; Trizila had to ask another to stop buying so many stuffed animals.
Still, solo parenting has drawbacks. “There’s no one to ask ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ ” Trizila says. It’s also annoying when she gets asked “Are you dating anyone?” She still hopes to meet a great guy, but is happy being single for the time being. “Are Kate and I that unusual?” she muses. “Look at the divorce statistics. There are a lot of single moms—they just didn’t adopt.” (In fact, about one quarter of all kids are raised by solo parents.) Yet she’d recommend her own path to parenthood to anyone. “If I convince just one single woman out there who’s yearning for a child to go for it, this interview will have been worthwhile.”