Choosing to have a child alone

For Marina Belobrovaja, doing something “because that’s the way it’s always been” is not necessarily a reason to continue to do it that way. The artist and filmmaker chose to have a child on her own and made the documentary “Menschenskind!” (Our Child) about it.

Text: Leoni Hof; photo: menschenskind-film.ch

Children need love, care and respect. But – as Marina Belobravaja firmly believes – not necessarily from both a mum and a dad. Now 45 years old, Marina chose to have a child without a partner. The filmmaker found the father of her child online. They met in person, and she chose him to be the father of her child. “I liked the way that he was matter-of-fact and calm in what was, after all, a rather absurd situation. He showed up to our meeting with a spermiogram and a recent AIDS test.” It was important to her that she felt physically attracted to the man, and that she and her daughter could stay in touch with him – even if the contact is very sporadic today and only consists of a few lines in a card at Christmas.

I would have gladly gone the legal route.

Daily routine

Single people still don’t have legal access to sperm donation in Switzerland. “If I’d had the choice at the time between a private sperm donor and a legal sperm bank, I would have gladly gone the legal route,” says Belobrovaja. She has long since established a daily routine with her daughter. At the start, good organisation was essential. “I had to plan my daily routine carefully while I was still pregnant: a milk pump, a place in a nursery, a car seat, supplementary dental insurance, etc. And, like all parents, I was a bit overwhelmed in the first few years. But at least I didn’t have to face the fall-out resulting from a partner’s failed expectations, mutual blame or the pain of separation. So perhaps I had it a little easier than some couples.”

Marina Belobrovaja entschloss sich bewusst, ohne einen Mann an ihrer Seite Mutter zu werden.
Aren’t all parents selfish?

Prepared for playground gossip

At the time, Belobravaja was surprised by the lack of understanding shown by her acquaintances in the alternative, left-wing scene. They accused her of being selfish – “aren’t all parents selfish?” – and criticised the absence of a father figure and the lack of romance. However, she was supported by her parents, who live in Israel. Even her more conservative relatives reacted positively: they were simply happy to have another child in the family! Looking back now, she says she’s glad that she was open about everything from the start. This gave her enough time to be prepared to face any playground gossip that came her way. The fact that there were no family models like hers around ten years ago was unsettling but also liberating. Ever since her daughter was three years old, she has spoken openly with her about her conception in a way that is appropriate for her age. “Today we’re surrounded by people with different family histories, gender identities and sexual orientations and whose understanding of the concept of family varies. My daughter is growing up with this awareness and understanding.”