Single Mothers by Choice
These women wanted a baby, and they didn't let being single stop them from becoming parents
First comes love, then marriage, then the carriage…YES? Think again. These days, there's nothing taboo about choosing to become a mom on your own. Marriage is not the financial necessity it once was, with men's earnings falling as women's rise. So we build a career, postpone coupling up—and then, at a certain age, want kids. Why not? We have the means, the heart, the will. Single moms ain't who they used to be. These modern mamas prove that all you need for a family is love, commitment, and a sense of humor.
“After my mom died, I realized how much I wanted my own family.”
During an afternoon run in 2007, Ina Sargen had an epiphany. “It had been two years since my mom died, and I still missed her so much,” she says. “I was heading home and recalled how good it felt to go home to my mom as a child. I realized that I didn't want all the wonderful stories I remembered about her, and my childhood, to end with me.”
Shortly after that revelatory run, Sargen, a commercial real estate broker who lives in Philadelphia, began researching adoption. “I went from wanting to wait to get married to realizing that it would be OK…no, great…if my child and I were a family.” She finally decided to adopt a child from the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. It was easier for single parents to adopt from there, she learned. An overseas adoption is stressful for anyone, but Sargen, without a partner to lean on, had an incredibly rough time with paperwork snafus. Like when Fed Ex put her documents in a recycling basket outside the night before recycling collection.
When she got to Kazakhstan, things didn't get easier. The first night, after two days of travel and meeting with adoption administrators, she was driven to an apartment. It would be her home for at least four weeks. “I have never felt so completely alone. I had a total panic attack,” recalls Sargen. The next day, two potential children of her own would be “presented for approval.” “What if I didn't bond with either one? I started imagining the worst.” Her only lifeline, since there was spotty Internet and cell-phone service, was her contact at the adoption agency. “She called the landline and talked me off the ledge, saying my feelings were normal. She'd be worried if I was blasé.”
Sargen's neighbors were there when she finally brought home 9-month-old Leo (named for her mom, Lee). “I live three doors down from an adoptive single mom,” says Sargen. “And I have two other friends who are single moms by choice. We have our own little circle.”
Sargen made a book: “When Mommy Met Leo in Kazakh-stan.” “We also look at the globe; I want Leo to feel comfortable knowing his story,” says Sargen. And what about the story of Lee? He's heard it many times. “I believe he's channeled her spirit. There's something eerily similar about their sense of humor, their gentle nature—it lumps me up every time I notice it.”