Forty percent of babies born in the United States are born to single mothers — and more and more of those single mothers are Single Mothers by Choice. To a lesser extent, yet still signifiant, is the rising number of Single Fathers by Choice! Choosing to raise a child alone is not an easy decision, and is a choice at which many in our society still raise an eyebrow. Fortunately, plenty of influential people are paving the way to prove that parenting alone can be exciting, fulfilling, and even liberating. Here are 15 celebrities who are Single Parents by Choice.
Note: While the term “Single Parent by Choice” can cover a variety of situations, for this article it specifically means a man or woman who conceived or adopted a child while single and with no intention of raising that child with a partner.
“What am I waiting for?” That’s the question actress Connie Britton asked herself just before she began the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Shaken by the death of both her parents, the Friday Night Lights and Nashville star decided to welcome son Yoby into her life. As she told Redbook in 2012, “I wasn’t in a relationship at the time, but I thought, ‘This is something I want to do. I can do it.’”
Sandra Bullock loved being a stepmother to ex-husband Jesse James’s three kids, but when the couple divorced, the Academy Award-winning actress wasn’t quite ready to give up motherhood. So she adopted as a Single Mother by Choice! Her son, Louis, was adopted first, while daughter Laila followed a few years later. Says Bullock of her completed family, “I can tell you absolutely, the exact right children came to me at the exact right time.”
While there are more Single Mothers by Choice than ever, men desiring to be Single Fathers by Choice still have quite the societal hill to climb. But perhaps Andy Cohen will help change that. The television personality and talk show host worked with an organization to find both an egg donor and a surrogate. Even that wasn’t without its challenges. As Cohen told People magazine, “Surrogacy is illegal in so many states, including New York. I don’t understand why. It’s a voluntary process, obviously. My surrogate just viewed it as, she was giving me the ultimate gift. She gave me life. So I’ll be forever indebted to her.” In February 2019, Cohen welcomed his son, Benjamin.
Sheryl Crowe certainly is not the only woman to become a Single Parent by Choice after disagreeing with an ex-partner about children. After splitting with Lance Armstrong in 2006, Crowe adopted her son, Wyatt, in 2007. In 2010, the Grammy-winning artist adopted her second son, Levi.
Sex and the City star Kristin Davis didn’t let the challenge of being single deter her from parenthood. Describing her adoption experience to Anderson Cooper in 2012, the actress said, “It is terrifying, partly because with adoption you always know there’s the chance that it won’t work. So you’re on pins and needles. I had always thought in the back of my head that I would adopt — that it was a possibility. So I started the process, but it’s quite confusing. There are all these different rules and if you’re single, it’s harder.” Despite the inherent challenges of being a single person trying to adopt, Davis was able to adopt her daughter, Gemma.
Like so many who choose to become a Single Parent by Choice, Edie Falco felt that she had reached a point in her life during which “it was time to raise kids.” The Sopranos star didn’t let the fact she was single stop her. In 2005, she adopted her son, Anderson. In 2008, she added an adopted daughter, Macy, to her family.
Though she’s been married to Harrison Ford for more than a decade now, actress Calista Flockhart first became a parent as a Single Mother by Choice. In January 2001, the Ally McBeal star adopted her son, Liam, as a newborn. Two years earlier, Flockhart had told an interviewer that she wanted to be a mother, and was not intending to wait for the right man with whom to start a family.
Though Mindy Kaling hasn’t confirmed any details surrounding her daughter’s conception, all signs point to the 38-year old actress being a Single Mother by Choice. After welcoming Katherine in December 2017, Kaling said, “After my daughter was born […] I remember bringing her home, and being in my house with her for the first time and thinking, ‘Huh, according to movies and TV, this is traditionally the time when my mother and spouse are supposed to be here, sharing this experience with me.’ And I looked around and I had neither, and for a moment it was kind of scary, like, ‘Can I do this by myself?’ But then that feeling went away because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself. I’m surrounded by family and friends who love and support me.”
In her memoir, Then Again, Diane Keaton admits she’s had “a lifetime of avoiding intimacy.” Though she’s dated fellow stars like Al Pacino and Warren Beatty, Keaton admits she was “a late developer,” writing in her book, “It took me 50 years to find motherhood and unconditional love.” She is, of course, referring to her two adopted children, daughter Dexter and son Duke, whom Keaton adopted as a single mother at the age of 50.
In 2000, Camryn Manheim shocked fans of her hit show The Practice by announcing that her character wasn’t the only one who was pregnant. As one of Hollywood’s earliest Single Mothers by Choice to actually give birth to her child (as opposed to adoption), Manheim can be partly credited with propelling the movement forward. In 2001, the 39-year old actress gave birth to her son, Milo, whom she has raised proudly as a single parent.
Madonna already had two biological children, Lourdes and Rocco, and an adopted son, David, when she decided to adopt another child as a Single Mother by Choice. In May 2009, the music legend traveled to Malawi — the same African country from which she had adopted David — to welcome a daughter, Mercy, into her family. In 2017, she adopted twin girls, Stelle and Estere, from the same country.
Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker is no stranger to single motherhood. The actress split with actor Billy Crudup while pregnant with their son, William (though the couple maintains shared custody). In 2007, Parker decided to add to her family, this time as a Single Mother by Choice. As she told People magazine, “I finally just decided, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this, and it’s going to be really hard because I’m single, and I’m going to do it anyway.” Parker adopted daughter Caroline Aberash (“Ash”) from Ethiopia, and named her after her late mother.
Denise Richards was thrown for a loop when her tumultuous relationship with and subsequent divorce from Charlie Sheen was plastered all over the media. Though Richards maintained near-full custody of the couple’s young daughters, Sam and Lola, the actress knew she wanted more children — even if that meant doing so as a Single Mother by Choice. In 2012, Richards adopted a baby girl she named Eloise. As she told People magazine shortly after, “I felt like I wasn’t done having children, and I’ve always wanted to have a large family. And so after my divorce I felt like, ‘Oh well, I’m sure I’ll soon enough get remarried and have my family [grow]’, and that wasn’t in the cards at the time, so I decided to expand my family on my own.”
Romantic comedy queen Meg Ryan raised a son, Jack, with ex-husband Dennis Quaid. But when the couple divorced, Ryan decided she was not done having children. She became a Single Mother by Choice in 2006, when she adopted Daisy from China. She summed up the experience in an interview with Redbook, “I am convinced […] there was nothing random about it. She is the daughter I should have. I never felt like I was on a rescue mission or anything like that. I just really wanted a baby; I was on a mission to connect with somebody, and Daisy and I got to meet each other this way at this time. We are so compatible.”
Academy Award winner Charlize Theron always knew she would adopt. Recalls the South African actress, “My mother found [a letter I wrote]. It said, ‘Would you please take me to an orphanage so that I can go and adopt a baby?’ I always knew I would adopt. Always.” In 2012 at the age of 42, the single Theron finally made her dream come true by adopting Jackson, known as Jacks. Three years and a high-profile split from Sean Penn later, she adopted her daughter, August.