Magazine article Insight on the News

Our Babies, Ourselves. (Culture)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Our Babies, Ourselves. (Culture)

Article excerpt

More single women are becoming mothers through artificial insemination or adoption. The process is costly, and critics say fatherless children have more problems as they mature.

Finding themselves at the edge of their fertility, a growing number of middle-class single women are making the same choice: motherhood.

The ranks of single women wishing to become mothers are swelling by leaps and bounds. According to the U.S. census, nearly one-quarter of the nation's never-married women have become mothers, a 60 percent jump during the last decade. The largest increases were among white women and college-educated women, particularly those with professional and managerial jobs.

These are not Murphy Browns carelessly getting pregnant but middle-class career women who say their lives are incomplete without children. Most are women for whom Prince Charming never arrived.

"It's a growing choice for a lot of single, older, professional career women,' says Jane Mattes, founder of the New York-based Single Mothers by Choice and author of the 1994 book by the same name. "They can always marry later on -- and significant numbers do -- but they need to tend to this first because of their biological clocks."

The typical woman in her 4,000-member organization is in her mid to late thirties and willing to take out a second mortgage on her house and borrow from family and friends to gather the $12,000 to $15,000 needed to adopt a child or pay for donor insemination. "The average process takes several years to work up the nerve, the resolve and the finances," says Judy Katz, coproducer and codirector of And Baby Makes Two, a new film on single mothering. "These women think about it so hard. They have to be prepared and get their finances in order to where they are more prepared than many married couples."

The film will be released June 25 in New York and shown this fall on PBS. It traces two years in the lives of a support group of eight New York women, all of whom are trying to become mothers.

One is Jan, a Manhattan psychotherapist left bereft at age 39 when her boyfriend dies. She turns to donor insemination at age 41 -- although her mother, Rosemarie, has serious reservations. "Artificial insemination is so alien to me and to all the values of giving your child a father," says Rosemarie. "You know what it's like to grow up without a daddy. Is that what you want to give to a child?"

"I would love to have a father for this child and I hope to," Jan answers. …

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