As with other countries, adopting in Denmark as a single woman is notoriously difficult. Add to this the understandable urge to have one’s own child and middle age approaching rapidly in the rear view mirror and one is left with limited options. Deliberately getting pregnant by an unwilling partner and then breaking up with them, as some have done, is clearly ethically dubious. It is not fair on the father or indeed the child that may result from such a union. In such a light the option of sperm donation is clearly the moral one. Some women who were interviewed have revealed that they did agonise over the decision, asking themselves whether the world really needed more children or whether it was right to deprive a child of a father. The first question is one that could be levelled at all parents and the latter, given the routine breakup of traditional families, is not such a one sided question. There is I suppose an issue of identity. It is important to know where one comes from but again this is not unique to this situation. There are many babies adopted or abandoned by a parent. At least with sperm donation one might legitimately argue that the sense that one has been ‘left’ or ‘given up’ is not really an issue.
Studies in Denmark suggest that there are no differences in a child’s psychological wellbeing or adjustment, between children of single mothers by choice and single mothers with two parents. Research suggests that if a child is told early enough about the manner of their conception it needn’t be a problem in later life. I’ll leave you to make up your mind about that, but I have concerns that there may be a confused sense of identity which comes with an inevitable psychological and emotional fallout. Proponents argue however, and in this I agree, that what is important, is the quality of parenting and social support. There will be those who insist that this arrangement erodes the family unit, but one should remember that this particular battle cry is not exclusive to this scenario. Indeed, any mention of gay rights and family (or any structure that challenges the normal family dynamic) tends to have this charge levelled against it. In Denmark there is no such stigma. Families come in all shapes and sizes.
It might appear from the foregoing that I support these arrangements and I suppose tacitly I do. This support is passive rather than active. I’m not sure it is something I would necessarily want for myself, but it is hard to argue against another’s right to proceed along this path. Denmark certainly poses no barriers to its implementation. It is after all one of the most family friendly places on the planet with 52 weeks parental leave and a welfare state that covers three quarters of the cost of child care, enabling such single mothers to return to work.