The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 49 An Uphill Battle: Single and Starting a Family As a single woman in the Foreign Service, I’ve faced an uphill battle to start a family. Like an increasing number of American women, I decided to pursue motherhood onmy own when I found myself still happily single inmy mid-thirties. Having spent my pre-FS career helping abused and at-risk children, I set my sights on domestic adoption from foster care as a natural way to buildmy family. While still in A-100 I beganmy search for an adoption agency and found one company—only one—that was willing to helpme attempt a domestic adoption as an expatriate. Yet when I called the agency after Flag Day I was devastated to hear in no uncertain terms that they would not be sending American children tomy new post in Africa. Unswayed by the stellar international school, affordable domestic help or large housing post had to offer, they were convinced it was irresponsible. Disappointed, I waited for two years for my next assignment, this time a coveted post inWestern Europe. I immediately restarted the adoption paperwork. Though I submittedmy home study for dozens of waiting children, social workers balked at the constant mobility inherent in an FS career—they said it sounded unstable. In the end I wasn’t matched to any. I decided that the logical alternative was to get pregnant myself—only to discover that as a single person I was not legally allowed to pursue fertility treatments inmy host country. There, single motherhood by choice is considered immoral. Eventually, I receivedmy next assignment. While in training I’ll have a fewmonths to try fertility treatments before I’moff again, this time to a country where the Zika virus is endemic, where any pregnancy would put my baby at risk of devastating birth defects. (Or risk my career if I curtail, accept a short-termWashington, D.C., assignment or take leave without pay during the pregnancy.) My story doesn’t yet have a happy ending, but I am still trying. I believe that despite its challenges this lifestyle is one of the greatest things I can offer a child. I want children who know the world even better than I do; and I think the world needs more citizens who embrace the diversity that exists not only within their own borders, but in every corner of the planet. In spite of the sacrifices I’ve had tomake so far, that still seems like a goal worth fighting for. –Mid-level consular FSO* *This comment was submitted separately, directly to the Journal n