With the social stigma attached to being a single mom by choice slowly but surely fading away, more and more women are becoming open to the idea of having a baby and raising kids all on their own, at least for now. If you want kids now – or at least soon – but haven’t found the right partner yet, there are more options than ever before.

From choosing to go with a sperm donor, adopting, or deciding to freeze some of your eggs now so you can pursue having a baby later in life, not having the right man in your life doesn’t need to stop you. Here we examine some of these options, if they might be right for you, and where to get advice and support in making this life-changing decision.

Timing

One of the most attractive aspects of becoming a single mom by choice is being able to decide when the time is right for you and you alone. Although the ‘perfect’ time to have a child is impossible to pinpoint for any one individual, you can pick the time that feels most right to you without the need to get your partner on board with the decision.

It might sound surprising, but in most parts of the world, women can still use donor eggs and embryos up to the age of 50. And even after then, adoption and fostering are still on the table.

The takeaway lesson here? Just because your biological clock might be screeching at you now, there’s likely more time than you expect to consider your options. You don’t need to panic, and there are several advantages to waiting a little longer, especially if you do decide to go it alone. Taking a few more years to save up money and do some real soul-searching on how you want to proceed are just two of them.

Finding a sperm donor

For women who want to experience pregnancy and have their own biological child, picking a sperm donor makes a lot of sense. Whatever route you wish to take, seeking out the help of a specialized clinic which offers fertility services as well as guidance and support is a good starting point. They’ll be able to guide you on the pros and cons of home insemination versus in-clinic insemination, choosing the right donor, and answer all the questions you’re certain to have!

For women with no fertility issues, conception through sperm donation has several advantages, notably the option to choose from a variety of donors, as well as a short waiting period as opposed to other methods. Depending on your country, you may also have the option to choose a donor who agrees to be available to meet the child when they turn 18, should the child wish to do so.

For older women or women with fertility issues, sperm donation and IVF treatment may be used in conjunction if standard insemination methods aren’t resulting in conception.

Freezing eggs

Another option for women who know they want to have kids but aren’t sure they’ve met the right partner yet, or simply want to send more time working on their careers and other endeavors, is choosing to have some of your eggs frozen while they are still young and at their most viable. The technical name for this process is ‘oocyte cryopreservation’, and the best results are achieved when the woman is 35 years old or younger.

In essence, egg freezing allows a woman to extend her fertility and significantly increase her chances of a successful pregnancy later on if she chooses to delay having children. About 20 eggs are generally extracted in the process, 85% of which generally survive. When she decides the time is right, the eggs are thawed, and fertilization can take place. If you’re already well over 35, then using donor eggs may be the way forward instead.

Fostering and adoption

While it may be human nature or simply ingrained by societal norms to have a preference for having your own biological children, the fact remains that there are quite literally millions of orphaned children around the world in desperate need of loving homes. Fostering and adoption are incredibly selfless ways of becoming a parent, and giving a bright future to a child whose path might otherwise have been a pretty bleak one can be massively rewarding.

There may be many other reasons you choose to adopt a child rather than have your own. These might include a family history of post-partum depression or other pregnancy-related complications, worries about passing unfavorable hereditary traits or conditions, and many other personal considerations.

However, you become the parent, deciding to become a single mom by choice is much easier when you have lots of support. Reach out to online communities, friends, family and support groups, and find the mix that feels right for you.

You may be raising the child on your own, but you’re never alone!