Before Denise Richards joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we knew her as an actress, the ex-wife to Charlie Sheen, and a single mother to three girls. Now married to Aaron Phyphers since September, he is helping her raise Sam, 14, and Lola, 13, who she shares with Charlie, and 7-year-old Eloise, whom Denise adopted as a single mom back in 2011.
She says the thing she's "most proud" of in her life is raising her girls. She told People that Eloise has a chromosomal disorder which made her unable to walk until she was 2, with the help of physical therapy, and stunted her language skills.
But, she said, "You take care of your children no matter what is going on with them. I don’t know if [Eloise] is ever going to talk like a typical child. But as a parent, you want what’s best for your children, and you just do it."
There are very specific challenges that come with adopting as a single mom (or even being a single mom) like Denise. The toll it can take emotionally and financially can be challenging — even if you are a celebrity.
Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock were also up for the challenge of adopting as single mothers; Charlize adopted infant daughter Jackson (who identifies as transgender) in 2012, and her daughter August in 2015. The actress told ELLE in 2018 that when she started the process of trying to become a mom, it was heartbreaking when one early adoption didn't work out. "I struggled mentally through the adoption process," she said. "Some of my lowest points in my life were dealing with the first time I filed; it really took an emotional toll."
Sandra didn't intend on becoming a single mom, but after a brutal breakup, she was already deep into the process of adopting her son Louis. She has since welcomed a daughter Laila to her family.
According to Verywell, single women who adopt often "pursue motherhood for the same reasons married women do."
"They cite the same need and desire to love and nurture a child of their own. But unlike married women, a single woman faces the arduous process and costs of adoption alone and with the reality that she may end up raising her child alone without a father or a partner," says the report.
It doesn't mean they are single by choice, either. But, "faced with ticking biological clocks, numerous women have unsuccessfully pursued intrauterine insemination with donor sperm and/or donor eggs before pursuing adoption as the road to parenthood."
Along with physical issues, many single moms can face backlash (unbelievable!) for their plans to pursue motherhood. "Detractors and critics may accuse single mothers of selfishness because they're not providing the child with a father and an intact home. Others will erroneously cite statistics linking single motherhood to a variety of potential social ills for their children. A single woman may even have to develop a newfound courage to conquer her own inner demons and alleviate her own previously-held thoughts and beliefs about adoption," reports Verywell.
There is mom guilt. Of course there is. Single mothers can feel shame when they dream about their former life as a swinging single lady with a lot of freedom — which, by the way, is completely normal.
Psychology Today lists some very specific problems that arise when you are a single mom. There is no partner to “tag” when you need help, it can be hard to tell how you are doing at the parenting thing alone, you make every decision by yourself, you stress about money, you can lose your sense of self, and it may be hard for a while to accept that the family you have isn’t the one you planned for.
Despite the challenges, Children of All Nations, a top adoption agency in America, reports that over the past few years, adoption by single parents has increased dramatically. "It is estimated that approximately 25 percent of special needs adoption and five percent of total adoptions are attributed to single parents. Though single adoptive parents are more likely to be women, single men are forming a growing percentage of those choosing to adopt," they say.
New York-based therapist Claudia Oberweger says adopting as a single mom is not the "ideal" situation, but it's entirely doable.
"Although we know that often the care of a child is often left to one person, typically the mother, it is not the ideal or preferred situation. If the single person has an extended familial system which can provide physical, emotional and financial support, the picture changes some," she tells Personal Space. "It then could be feasible for the single person to care for a child without a live-in partner. Adopting a child alone is a brave and challenging endeavor. It is definitely possible. But having an intimate support system is preferable."
Credit: Denise Richards/Instagram
The Daily Dish is your source for all things Bravo, from behind-the-scenes scoop to breaking news, exclusive interviews, photos, original videos, and, oh, so much more. Subscribe to The Daily Dish podcast, join our Facebook group, and follow us on Instagram for the latest news hot off the presses. Sign up to become a Bravo Insider and be the first to get exclusive extras.