The mayor of the nation’s capital is a new mom, the first single mother to run the city.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) surprised residents, political observers and some in her own administration on Monday evening, when she announced she had adopted a newborn.
“I decided to start the adoption journey, just knowing that it was a great time in my life and I had so much to share with a baby,” she said. “When you sit in the seat that I’m in, you’re used to being able to make things happen, and babies have a way of letting you know that they’re in control.”
While Bowser started the adoption process late last year, she said notification that a baby was available came “much sooner than I expected,” and she brought the infant to her Colonial Village home over the weekend. She canceled a previously scheduled campaign rally and other appearances Saturday.
The baby arrived as Bowser is on track to become the first D.C. mayor elected to a second term since 2002. She faces no credible competition in the June 19 Democratic primary or the general election.
Bowser, who never married or had other children, is extremely private about her personal life. And her handling of the baby announcement was in character.
Her office declined to release the baby’s gender, name, age or photograph, as well as the circumstances of the adoption.
She also did not introduce her child on camera in her interview with WUSA, and asked for privacy in a Monday evening statement.
“As any new mother would feel — I am thrilled, nervous and looking forward to each and every stage,” Bowser tweeted. “I will be taking the next week or so to enjoy these precious moments with my new baby. I am so grateful to be able to start my family in this wonderful way.”
“I will of course remain in contact with my office. Because of the great team we have, I don’t expect we’ll miss a beat, and I know we’ll all keep working hard to make D.C. proud.”
Bowser joins a small number of single parents holding public office, even though they lead about a quarter of U.S. families. In her television interview, she did not address how she would handle child care while she works. The District is one of the most expensive cities in the United States when it comes to child care, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The mayor said becoming a parent will give her a new perspective on public policy.
“It certainly gives me another point of view. I have, we have been very focused on families in this administration, making sure that we do everything for schools and child care and great play spaces and safe neighborhoods,” Bowser told WUSA.
Bowser will not be the first D.C. mayor to have newborn children while in office: Marion Christopher Barry was born in 1980, two years after his father, Marion Barry, was elected to his first term. And Adrian Fenty’s third child was born halfway through his term in 2008.
Members of the D.C. Council who are also parents of young children offered their congratulations to Bowser.
“We still have lots of baby clothes that Cora & Everett have outgrown if you’re in a pinch,” tweeted council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6).
“Zoe can’t wait to meet her new friend,” tweeted council member Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1), who became the first local lawmaker to give birth in office last year and the first to pump breast milk from the council dais.
Bowser’s decision to adopt also places a spotlight on children in need of homes.
Nearly 118,000 children were waiting to be adopted as of Sept. 20, 2016, according to the most recent federal data. The average age of an adopted child that year was 6, and single women made up a quarter of parents who adopted children.
Here are some other reactions to the mayor’s news: