Single mom explains her reasons for undergoing IVF… while daughter yearns for a ‘daddy’

A woman who decided she wanted children pursued in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to start her family alone, intentionally creating a child with sperm from a donor.

In an interview with Women’s Health, Kate Shelley discussed her decision to have a baby without a partner, spending £18,000 ($22,000) in fertility treatments. “I think if I hadn’t been able to have a child, it would have left me feeling a little bit broken,” she said. “My cut-off point was 40, 41… but when I hit 39, I realized that even if I met someone, at that exact second, the chances of having a baby in the next year were tiny. When I got to that point I decided that I was going to have to do something to guarantee that I would have my own family and I started looking at all the options.”

Initially, Shelley discussed co-parenting with a platonic male friend, but that didn’t work out, so she decided to get pregnant on her own. So she began shopping for a sperm donor.

“The sperm we used in the end was the only one from my shortlist who didn’t have any carrier diseases at all,” she said. “He was a real wildcard for me. I had otherwise chosen people that look like me, Caucasian, blue eyes, blonde hair, but he’s part-Filipino/Chinese, Caucasian. There was something about him that kind of jumped out and felt right.”

Shelley was able to create the embryos and go through with her transfer right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and she gave birth during the ensuing lockdown. She insisted that her daughter wasn’t being deprived of a father through her situation, as she has a lot of positive male role models present, but her daughter seems to be indicating otherwise.

“We talk about families a lot, and she does notice and have an interest in daddies in general,” Shelley admitted. “She will ask other children if they have a daddy, and then tell them that she doesn’t, but she has a granddad. Sometimes she points at men in the street or in the shop and asks me, ‘is he a daddy?’ which can be quite awkward!”

READ: Attitude shift sees IVF babies as ‘valuable’ but naturally-conceived as ‘accidents’

Yet Shelley does not seem willing to acknowledge what her daughter is missing out on, despite her daughter’s longing for a father.

“Sometimes there’s a feeling of loss for a solo parent, it’s a feeling that we have missed out on something because we don’t have a marriage or a committed relationship. We as parents have to get our heads around it being OK so that we don’t make our children feel bad for them not having a dad,” she said. “Plus, I always keep in mind that if you do have a dad in their life and he’s not a very good one, it can be more damaging than not having a dad at all. At the moment, there’s no one that’s chosen not to have her, or chosen not to see her. In order to use his sperm in the UK, her donor had to agree to be contacted by her in the future so in a way, he’s saying, ‘I’m open to you coming and being part of my life, or seeing you, or at least speaking to you and finding out about you.'”

But undergoing IVF, and willingly creating children without fathers, is problematic for many reasons, among with is the commodification of children. “When you are commissioning and swiping your credit card for a product, even one that you want badly, you are participating in commodification, regardless of whether the intended parents are the biological parents of the surrogate-born children,” Katie Breckenridge, of child advocacy group Them Before Us, previously told Live Action News. “In this case, the products are human beings.”

That mindset is one felt deeply by the children conceived through IVF, according to a Harvard Medical School study; sixty-two percent (62%) of children conceived through donor technologies, including surrogacy, believe it to be unethical and immoral, and said they felt like business transactions.

“Somehow, somewhere, my parents developed the idea that they deserved to have a baby, and it didn’t matter how much it cost, how many times it took, or how many died in the process,” one woman told Them Before Us. “They deserved a child. And with an attitude like that, by the time I was born they thought they deserved to have the perfect child… as Dad defined a perfect child. And since they deserved a child, I was their property to be controlled, not a person or a gift to be treasured.”

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