There is no one single way to become a parent, just as there is not one unique type of family. Sometimes, becoming a parent the traditional way is complicated, or even impossible.
Life events and circumstances, such as not yet having found the right partner with whom to have a child, being in a same-sex relationship or sensing your biological clock ticking, can lead singles and LGBTQ couples to consider alternative ways of starting a family.
Having and raising a child with a co-parent, and not a romantic partner, is often the result of a great deal of reflection and soul-searching. Co-parenting represents a solution for those who want to start a family but cannot have a child on their own. Not only does this form of parenting allow single people to avoid raising their child alone, it also provides same-sex couples with the opportunity to involve a third party, thus preventing their child from being raised fatherless or motherless.
What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting refers to a situation in which two or more persons decide to have and raise a child together without being in a romantic relationship. Contrary to co-parenting after a divorce, co-parents make the choice to have their baby within a co-parenting arrangement from the very beginning, even before conception.
Having a child with a co-parent is particularly popular amongst same-sex couples and singles. Those involved agree to share custody of the child, all parental responsibilities and rights, as well as all of the expenses related to the child’s upbringing.
For example, a lesbian couple can form a partnership with a gay couple or with a single person (straight or LGBTQ). A single woman and a single man wishing to have a baby can also decide to team up to finally start their family together, all without being romantically involved. Incidentally, the child can have two, three or four parents. They will be living in two different (but geographically close) homes, unless the co-parents decide to live together.
Raising a child with a co-parent without living together: how does this work?
Co-parenting doesn’t mean that people choose to have a child with a complete stranger they’ve just met on a dating website. On the contrary, finding your co-parent can sometimes take years. And for good reason – you’ll be raising a child together until they reach the age of 18 (if not longer). This may be the most important decision of your life!
That’s why it’s crucial to look for someone trustworthy, like-minded and who shares the same values (spiritual, moral, etc.). Someone with whom you can imagine co-parenting for many years. You need to be on the same page regarding your child’s upbringing to ensure that they will grow up in a stable and loving environment. Your top priority is, and always will be, your child’s wellbeing.
To find your co-parent you can either look for someone who wants to have a child amongst your local network, or online. They could be a friend, a friend of a friend, someone you know well or not at all, single or in a relationship, LGBT or straight.
If you can’t think of anyone around you (friends, colleagues, associates etc.) with co-parent potential, why not try looking online, using a website dedicated to aspiring parents. Via these platforms you’re able to browse profiles, search for like-minded people and contact those you might find interesting. It works like a dating website, even though the purpose is quite different.
Once you’ve found someone that interests you, the next step is to arrange a date to see if you might be a match. Bear in mind that, in reality, it will take several dates to get to know each other well enough to perhaps spark up a friendship. You’ll need to be patient. It’s imperative that you take the time to ensure that you agree on the most important matters regarding your future child.
And after? How to become a parent with a platonic partner
Once you’ve found the perfect co-parent, you’ll then need to arrange to collect the sperm of the intended father and undergo either an insemination or IVF. Some people feel more comfortable performing insemination in their own home. It’s also possible to have the insemination procedure performed by medical staff in a clinic. In vitro fertilization (IVF) might be recommended in case of fertility issues or if the woman who will carry the child is in her late thirties or forties.
Additionally, it’s best to draft a co-parenting agreement before conception takes place. This is to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding their expected level of commitment and intentions towards the child and the other co-parent(s). This document should include custody arrangements, who is the main caregiver, what you would do in case of health issues or death, your preferences regarding the child’s education (spiritual education? Public or private school?), etc.
Although having a child via a co-parenting arrangement may still seem a little unusual in our Western society, this modern form of parenting is becoming more and more popular amongst same-sex couples and singles who wish to start a family.
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