Karen Anderson: On Being a Single Lesbian Mom

I knew I wanted to be a mother long before I realized I was a lesbian. As a young girl and then as an adolescent I would find myself fantasizing about being a mom, thinking about my future children and wondering what they would be like. I didn’t spend any time imagining their other parent, or thinking about a wedding or the perfect husband—that just wasn’t important. Little did I know what the future held!

When I came out in my twenties, it quickly occurred to me that while I was very happy pairing with another woman, my dream of being a mother might be harder to realize than I had thought. I certainly knew it was possible to get pregnant through a variety of alternative means but I was hesitant to consider a sperm bank and an unknown donor. You see, I am adopted and always wished I could have at least known what my biological parents looked like or had more information on who they were. I was raised by wonderful parents but that desire to know more was profound and deep. I decided I could not have a child without at least some access for that child to know who his or her father was.

When I started to get more serious about pursuing motherhood, I was in my 30’s and the partner I was with was adamant she did not want to be a parent. I, on the other hand could no more have given up that dream than I could have denied my sexuality. Our relationship actually ended because of my choice to choose parenting over partnership. That began a journey to figure out how I would find a man willing to give his sperm and agree to some level of involvement; one end of the scale being just being identified and meeting the child and the other end being active involvement with the child.

I did not have many male friends but did approach 2 or 3 of them with the proposal of being part of bringing a new life into the world. The first 2 were quite surprised and politely declined and the 3rd agreed. However, he got cold feel and chickened out at the last minute-I mean literally, I was ovulating and planning to inseminate the day he told me he couldn’t go through with it.

I was quite discouraged after that and wasn’t sure what to do. I never once considered a sperm bank and remained very clear that it was a priority to me to have my child know who their father was. Most of my friends were very aware of my situation and I passed the word to let me know if any of them knew of someone with the XY gene who might be interested in meeting me and providing his sperm.

Many months later, I got a call from a friend who said she knew a gay man who had expressed an interest in being a parent and she asked if I wanted to meet him. I said, “Absolutely!” We arranged to meet at a local coffee shop and I was as nervous as if I was on a blind date. When Kent walked in and we introduced ourselves, I found myself wondering if this would be the father of my child and how I would know if it was right. We had only spoken for a few minutes when I asked him this question: “What is the most important thing you would want for your child or hope he or she would become?” As soon as Kent answered, I knew that this would be the right man to be the father to my child. His answer was exactly the same as mine which was, “My highest hope for my child is that he or she will believe in him or her self and have great self esteem no matter what he/she grows up to become.”

Karen and Kai Anderson The rest of the story goes as you might imagine. Kent and I spent the next year spending time together and getting acquainted and discussing our views on parenthood. On September 12, 1996 I was artificially inseminated and got pregnant that first time. (It was very poignant for me that this was my birth mother’s birthday-one of the few things I knew about her). On May 12, 1997, our son, Kai Walker Anderson, was born.

The arrangement between Kent and I remains somewhat ambiguous as we have never put anything on paper or drawn up any legal documents. There have certainly been conflicts and disagreements about how things should go with Kai but we have been able to resolve them with communication and patience. I remain the primary parent and decision maker. Kai lives with me most of the time but sees his dad a couple of times a week and spends every 3rd weekend with him. There are times when the conflicts between Kent and myself make me question if I did the right thing to have an involved father and I wonder if I should have done things on my own as so many other lesbian friends of mine have done. However, Kai and his dad have a wonderful relationship and Kai absolutely adores his father. I see how much Kai has benefited from having a father and how important he is to him and I know without a doubt, that the right decision was made.

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