Like many working mothers, Eileen McDonnell tries to limit business trips and after-hours events, and she feels guilty when she has to miss an event at her daughter’s school.
Unlike most working mothers, however, McDonnell is the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company, insurance firm Penn Mutual. And she came to the job as a single parent, having chosen in her mid-40s to adopt her daughter, Claire, from Russia.
McDonnell didn’t decide on single parenthood lightly. She first seriously mulled over the idea when she was president of New England Financial, then a subsidiary of MetLife. “I’d done a lot of soul searching about how I would acclimate as a mother,” she said.
She’d been around kids her whole life – first as one of six siblings, and then as an adult with all her nieces and nephews. But by her 40s she had yet to have any of her own.
“Up until that time it hadn’t happened for me,” she said. “I realized I had the capacity to love a child and that it would round me out as a person.”
Once she learned she would be allowed to adopt a baby from Russia, she opted to leave he