Jennifer Aniston: Ready for a Baby?

updated 08/23/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jennifer Aniston had to know the questions were coming-after all, in her new comedy The Switch, she plays a single woman with a ticking biological clock who turns to a sperm donor to have a baby. And yes, Aniston can relate. Does she want to become a mom? "Yeah, I have said it years before and I still say it today," the star, 41, told reporters in L.A. on Aug. 8. The movie shows that "women are realizing . . . they don't have to settle with a man just to have a child," she said. When a Russian journalist asked if it was selfish for a woman to have a baby without a father, Aniston shot back, "Love is love and family is what is around you."

Friends say such questions indeed hit close to home for Aniston. While the actress is content with her low-key single life (since her 2005 divorce from Brad Pitt her romances have included Vince Vaughn and John Mayer), she's getting serious about wanting to start a family. "She would like to have kids even if that means doing it on her own," says one source. "She sees people around her having such success [raising kids alone]. She's got everything in life right now; a family is like a missing puzzle piece." Another source says Aniston might consider becoming a single mom, but for now, her goal is "finding an amazing, mature man to have a baby with."

She's been actively dating-but she doesn't believe in rushing things. "It's about really finding that person who means something, and not settling," Aniston told reporters. "I know a lot of single people who are happy and a lot of married people who are not as thrilled as they would like to be."

Her Switch coworkers call her a natural around kids. When her young costar Thomas Robinson grew weary doing take after take of a bedtime scene, "there were a bunch of stuffed animals on the set. Jen just started to make up these stories about the animals and give them names," says codirector Will Speck. "Jen has a clear, natural maternal instinct," not just with kids but with friends, says costar Jason Bateman. "She cares a great deal about the people she loves. That's a good ingredient for motherhood."

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