Staff Profile: Chaplain Stephanie McLemore
When Lynchburg College Chaplain Stephanie McLemore decided she was ready to be a mom, she prayed about it, asked her mother and sister for emotional support, and then went to a fertility clinic to undergo artificial insemination.
The procedure was successful after the second attempt and later that year, McLemore
gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Sophia.
Today, Sophia is three-years-old and has a 14-month-old sister named Ellery, who through a different donor, was also conceived by artificial insemination.
is among the growing number of single women in America who are turning to artificial insemination to fulfill their desires for motherhood.
, 43, said she
hopes to be married some day and that she
is happy with her
bold move to become a single parent.
Chaplain Stephanie McLemore holds daughters Sophia and Ellery.
"I didn't want to miss my chance to be a mom.
It might not have been the first choice, but it was all at once possible and a real option," McLemore
is open about her
choice, and in the summer of 2010 she
wrote about life as a single mother in an article for Just Women
, a quarterly magazine published by the Women's Ministry of the Disciples of Christ.
"I am a straight, single pastor who at 38 had dated a few guys seriously over about 15 years, but who was desperately afraid of missing my chance to be a mom… I really wanted to fall in love, get married, and have a family," McLemore
said in the article.
With no husband on the horizon and her
proverbial biological clock ticking, McLemore
took matters into her
own hands and sought medical assistance in the path toward motherhood.
investigated adoption before making her
decision, but artificial insemination removed some of the uncertainties that come with adopting a child, and the procedure was less expensive than adoption.
Plus, as she
wrote in her
article for Just Women
was able to participate in the "miracle of creation."
Though an increasing number of women are choosing a one-parent family dynamic, there is still a matter of acceptance by a society that largely views two parents as the foundation of a family.
McLemore knew that, as a Disciples of Christ pastor with several family members as ministers, the idea of single motherhood could be problematic for some.
said that although there was some opposition, she
received overwhelming support and understanding from those around her
"There were some folks that were very upset with my choice.
There was one Virginia church elder that wrote the regional minister and expressed his
concerns, but I feel very good about my choice and, overall, folks were supportive and really happy for me," McLemore
A number of factors led McLemore
to choose single motherhood, including stability in her
career, financial security and support from her
mother and sister, affectionately known as "Ya-Ya" and "Auntie Lisa."
The "daddy question" has already surfaced in McLemore's household, with Sophia noticing that many of her
peers have both a mom and a dad.
does not side-step the issue.
tells both her
daughters about her
decision in terms they can understand.
"I say, 'Well, you don't have a daddy yet, you may someday, but you have a Ya-Ya and an Auntie Lisa.' I tell them that their 'mommy wanted little girls so badly that she
found a doctor who could help her
, and a donor who could help her
, and Auntie Lisa said she'd help… and grandma said she'd help a lot!' And then I had them, and it's been the best thing in my life," McLemore
said the experience of motherhood has changed her
in many positive ways, even making her
more effective working with students on campus.
"Being a mom makes me a much better pastor.
It has taught me to have much more patience, how to get more done on less sleep, and just to be joyous in a way I hadn't before," McLemore
is careful to point out that her
decision and the timing were right for her
and may not be the best option for others.
cautions any independent woman thinking about motherhood to consider all her
"Single parenthood is a tough road.
In fact, I'm only able to do it because my mother is so helpful," McLemore