I am a single mother by choice. I adopted my daughter from foster care and I’m hoping to bring another child into our family in the next few years. What do I want you to know?
I want you to know that I don’t need your adulation. I didn’t adopt to solve the orphan crisis, put feet to my pro-life convictions or make any kind of political or religious statement. I didn’t adopt because I don’t think enough married couples are doing it. I am not a hero and my daughter is not “lucky to have me.”
I want you to know that I don’t need your pity. I didn’t adopt because I’ve given up on marriage or because I needed someone to love and need me. I’ve never been under the illusion that this would be an easy path. I am not a victim, and neither is my daughter. She is one of the most resilient, tenacious people that I know. Maybe if you are not also a single mom, you “don’t know how I do it.” But if you knew your child was in foster care, I think you would do everything you could to bring her home, no matter who happened to live (or not live) in that home.
I want you to know that though I am not married, I am not raising my daughter “on my own.” Unlike many single moms, I had the luxury of making certain before I chose motherhood that my daughter would have strong male and female role models committed to loving and teaching her. I also have the luxury of tapping into a social support system that continues to provide great advice, encouragement and practical help.
I want you to know that I was scared beyond belief when I first decided to adopt as a single mom. Not just about raising a child, but also about sharing my decision with many great folks in my life who happen to have very specific views about how a family is supposed to look. I anticipated resistance, cautions and even hostility. What I got instead was unconditional love, emotional support and three adoption showers. After meeting my daughter, no one expressed concern or disapproval about how our family was formed. In fact, I have felt more loved and supported since I embarked on this journey than ever before in my life. I want you to know that if you are part of that support network for me or another single mom, you rock. We need you.
I want you to know that despite this support, I feel tremendous pressure to represent my “single mom by choice” status in new situations. If my daughter’s hair is a mess or she’s having a meltdown I worry that you’re thinking I never should have chosen to do this alone. If I’m not smiling and telling you about my wonderful life, I worry that you’re judging my family to be second-best. I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.
I want you to know that I spend my days playing Candyland, reading stories, folding laundry, trying to model self-control and compassion, loving unconditionally and wondering if it will be enough. Just like you.
I want you to know that I love my daughter ferociously and I am one hundred percent convinced that we are supposed to be a family. Though there are plenty of life choices that I regret, choosing single motherhood is not one of them.