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Family portrait

The Werners, Upper West Side

In 2007, Stephanie Werner traveled to Guatemala to adopt a little girl, Sophia, now two. The single mom balances family time with a full-time job at VH1.

What prompted you to adopt?
I was at a point in my life when I wasn’t dating anyone, but I really wanted to be a mom, so I decided to go for it. It took a lot of research, but once you’ve made the basic decisions—like which country to adopt from—the process is not that bad. Just long.

When the big day finally arrived, what was it like?
I remember getting the call from the hotel lobby to tell me she was downstairs…riding the elevator and thinking, The moment these doors open, my life is going to change. It was magical, and the bond was automatic. For the first time I really understood the phrase “It’s meant to be.”

Describe an average day with Sophia.
During the week, I wake up with her about 6:30am. We hang out and play with her pretend kitchen, and I’ll give her a bath. The babysitter comes at eight, and I get ready for work. I come home to relieve her around 6pm, and that’s when Sophia and I spend quality time together. Some evenings it’s quiet time reading, but sometimes we visit neighbors. Sophia is so social and loves to be with other kids in the apartment complex. She’s like the little mayor of the building. Juggling work and other responsibilities can be really difficult. But I learned the value of having a support system—family, friends, even the doorman!

If you had the option, would you give up work and be a stay-at-home mom?
I love to work—I’m definitely a career person. I am part of this great industry and I’m happy every day, so not working rarely crosses my mind. I just make sure there’s balance between my job and my family. Sophia is my number one priority, and there’s no compromise in that.

What do you two do for fun on the weekend?
We love to eat sushi outdoors at Yuki Sushi on the Upper West Side, and go to Fred’s, a restaurant-bar in the same area. The 79th Street Boat Basin is great, too. Kids are mesmerized by the water. On rainy days, we spend time at Barnes & Noble and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Do you socialize mostly with other single parents?
It’s a combination of married and single parents. Usually it’s just other moms with their kids. You don’t really think about which category they’re in because the focus is on the kids rather than the relationships, though I know there are a lot of support groups for single parents in the city.

How has your love life changed?
Dating has been better than ever because I’m so happy all the time. I think that comes through when I’m out with someone. Anyone that I am going to date probably has kids, so I’m often meeting their child and they are meeting mine. I’m looking forward to finding the right person and adding on to the little family I’ve created.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about the city?
The lack of physical space, particularly outdoor space—not having a backyard of my own for Sophia to play in. When I go to my parents’ house in Queens or my sister’s in New Jersey, you can just open the back door and the kids are free to run around. It’s a need that is hard to fill when you live in the city, which is why we spend so much of our weekends outdoors. Central Park—and especially Sheep Meadow—is like our home away from home. Hippo Playground on Riverside Drive is another great space, and close to my apartment.

In what ways is Sophia a real New Yorker?
She already has passions for shopping and music, so I guess I could make a typical Upper West Sider out of her! And she’s a great dancer, even at her age.