What I want you to know: I am a single mother by choice

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Shannon.  



What I want you to know is that 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.



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