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I Can So I Will

Jessica Barker seems to have it all. Oxford University educated, her job as a City of London headhunter gives her a large disposable income to enjoy with her friends. And yet Jessica is on a mission. “I’d love to find someone with whom I could have a relationship, but mainly I want a baby and I can’t afford to wait around.”1 Aged 37 and monied, she does not fit the stereotype of a teenage or economically disadvantaged single mom. Rather Jessica is typical of a growing number of British and American middle-class women who are actively choosing to become lone parents.

Statistics support this growing trend. In 2008, 41% of American children were born to unmarried mothers; only 10% of mothers were in their teens, while 14% were over 35.2 The percentage of births to unmarried 30+ women more than doubled between 1970 and 1993 from 8% to 19%, before declining to 12% in 2004.3 Meanwhile in Britain, one in four dependent children is now raised by one parent only, of which nine out of ten are women.4 Furthermore, about 82,000 single thirty-something women a year now have a baby without a partner around, almost double the number a decade ago.5

For women like Jessica, this is a lifestyle choice. Societal changes in the 1970s meant increasing numbers of women entered university and the workplace. Their degrees and good jobs cut their dependence on men for financial security and enabled them to create “self-sufficient middle-class families without plunging into poverty or marrying unsuitable partners.”6 Furthermore, social attitudes no longer stigmatize illegitimacy as moral transgression, and normal judicial phrases such as “bastard” are considered outdated. Parental responsibility is no longer tied to marital status, and a recent survey by the British organization YouGov showed that two-thirds of the women questioned agreed that “it was acceptable for a financially secure single woman to deliberately set out to have a child by herself.”7

However, the deeper significance of this trend is with women who are having donor-assisted children.8 Reproductive science now allows them to delay motherhood for longer and secure the necessary ingredient quicker, cheaper, and without scrutiny. Some ask male friends or former partners to donate sperm for A.I. treatment, having obtained the man’s agreement not to interfere in the baby’s life.9 Others are taking advantage of Internet companies such as who, for $700 (£450) will arrange the delivery of “fresh” sperm to the recipient’s door. A world of possibilities is now opening up for women who want to reproduce without men being physically present.

Since this practice bypasses sexual intimacy between husbands and wives, a critical family bond is destroyed. As Rosanna Hertz points out, “we can no longer deny that the core of family life is the mother and her children.”10 Men are recruited as mentors, friends, and kin as the mother seeks to construct an environment she thinks best for her child. This prevents men from assuming responsibility and God-ordained authority and leaves them increasingly marginalized as their place and role within the family is determined by women. A new family structure is being created, but one which is moving further away from the ideals of Genesis 2.


“Going Solo,” The Sunday Times (London), June 4, 2006,,,2087-2209865.html (accessed August 1, 2007).


Leanne Italie, “Study Points to More Older, Unmarried, Educated Moms in U.S.,” CNS News Website, May 6, 2010, (accessed May 11, 2010).


Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), xv.


Penny Babb, Hayley Butcher, Jenny Church, and Linda Zealey, eds., Social Trends, No. 36, 2006 Edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 21, 24.


“Going Solo.”


Hertz, 35.


“Going Solo.”


Hertz, 194.


“Going Solo.” This circumvents British legislation which gives children the right to trace their fathers, but only if the donation has been frozen.


Hertz, xviii.