Dear Carolyn: I’m a single, independent woman in my late 20s. For various reasons, I’m pretty sure marriage is not in my future, and I feel happy the way I am.
Therein lies the rub. I want to be a mom one day. I’ve always thought I should adopt, regardless of marital status, so the “how” is mostly figured out.
My family, though supportive of my single life, is very unsupportive of my becoming a single mom. Some of their reasons are reasonable — it’s difficult to raise children alone, it might have negative consequences for my career, harder to get an adoption solo — others less so (what if the baby I adopt is a serial killer?). When I argue that plenty of people, even in our family, make it as single parents with less financial stability than I have, they say those people are just making the best of a bad situation. It would be way better for the child to have a dad, not need so much time in child care, etc. I feel like they’re saying I’m being selfish for bringing a kid into my life on purpose.
Am I trying to have my cake and eat it, too?
Carolyn says: Well sure, it would be better for your would-be child to have a second parent.
And better for you to raise a child with the help of a co-parent.
It would also be better for kids with one terrible parent to be raised solo by the other.
And kids with two terrible parents to be raised by loving other relative(s), friend(s) or foster(s).
And kids in sketchy day care to spend more time at home.
And kids in sketchy homes to spend more time in day care.
And better for a parent to fly solo when the co-parent turns out to be high-conflict or a no-show.
And better for your career not to have kids.
And better for your career to have the sharpening effect kids have on priorities, perspective and time-management.
And better for a child to have healthy bonds versus pat demographics.
And so what I wonder is how your family can be so confident their idea of the right way to raise a child will actually turn out right for the child you would have adopted but didn’t because they managed to talk you out of it?
In a way, I admire their certainty.
Wait. No I don’t.
But it is useful if you co-opt it wisely: Give a good think to every disaster scenario they push. Even the serial killer one — not seriously, but seriously — since all would-be parents, biological and adoptive, face the possibility their kids’ path will take them through hospitals, psych wards, courthouses or physical/occupational/social/educational therapies as far as their iCals can see.
“Statistically unlikely” does not = “will not happen.”
Use their pessimism to inform your decision.
I’m going to gussy up that last part: your decision. When duly informed, then decide. Scrutinized choices withstand family disapproval better anyway.
Until you decide, respond to unsupportive remarks with, “Something to consider, thanks.” Afterward: “I’ve made up my mind, thanks.” No further discussion.
The part about adoption being more difficult for singles? Yes. But that’s between you and any agency you use, period. Start that research now.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.