The definition of family has changed in recent years, with co-parenting fast becoming a trend. Women and men are now choosing to find a co-parent in order to create their family. These mothers and fathers have relationships based on legal agreements and counselling rather than dates, romance and sex. But they all have one thing in common: the desire to have a child.
Single men and women, along with gay and lesbian couples are choosing co-parenting as an option because of the many advantages this can offer for the parents and the children conceived. Not only does it solve the problem of the missing sperm/eggs but it also allows children the experience of having both mothers and father's in their lives.
Bringing up a child can be hard work and expensive, so the more support available the better. With co-parenting arrangements, those involved can agree to share childcare and finances. For example the father may see the child every other weekend and one evening per week. This gives the mother time for herself or to socialise.
So the question is, how do you find a co-parent and how do you ensure that they will be the right person to help in bringing up your child?
It may be that you have a friend who has talked about the possibility of being of co-parenting with you, which may seem like a great idea. You may have a close relationship and feel like you know and trust them well. On the other hand it can often be more difficult being upfront with a friend, as you may be concerned about upsetting them or losing your current friendship. In addition friendships often bring other friends and/or relatives into the equation which may create divided loyalties in the event of any future disputes. It is always advisable to think carefully and communicate openly before choosing a friend as a co-parent.
The other option for finding a co-parent is via the internet. The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with people and there are now a number of websites dedicated to connecting co-parents and known sperm donors with the sole intention of creating a family together. Leading website prideangel.com was set up in 2009 by lesbian parents and scientists who conceived their daughter through a known donor. Pride Angel now has over 45,000 members across the world with the majority being in the UK, Europe, USA, and Australia.
We spoke with co-founder of Pride Angel Erika Tranfield who says 'there are many advantages to choosing your co-parent or known donor through a website such as Pride Angel. 'You are able to search our database for characteristics, see photos and read information about your potential co-parent or donor'. 'In addition you can communicate through the internal messaging system and ask all the awkward questions before meeting in person'
However it is important to ensure that you are staying safe while meeting donors through the internet. Erika recommends 'Don't give out personal details such as your home address until you get to know your donor well enough and then always meet in a public place, taking someone along with you for extra security.'
Unlike some other websites and forums Pride Angel is committed to ensuring the safety of their members, this includes ‘Not allowing the request of natural insemination, payments, shipping of sperm or anonymous donation within profiles'. There is also a 'Report abuse' system which allows members to report any concerning profiles or messages' These are always taken seriously and any members suspended, when deemed necessary. Erika says 'we pride ourselves in having more genuine donors and co-parents than other websites'.
So once you have found your ideal co-parent and have got to know them well, what are the next steps which need to be taken? Firstly ensure that you have talked through your thoughts and feelings, as well as insure that you communicate your intentions regarding any important issues such as: contact arrangements, financial responsibility and other areas to include education and religion. It may be a good idea to get your intentions down in writing in a structured manner. This could be a 'letter of intent' which can form part of the co-parenting legal agreement. A co-parenting agreement is not legally binding but it does help clarify initial intentions in the case of a future dispute, and helps you talk through everything that you may not have considered beforehand.
Now you are ready to start trying for a baby. Some may choose artificial insemination at home, however without freezing and quarantining sperm within a clinic, there is no guarantee that the sperm will be infection free. For peace of mind, you may therefore choose to seek fertility treatment from a clinic in order to conceive. Many clinics are now open to treating co-parenting couples or those bringing along their own known sperm donor. The type of treatment needed will depend upon your age and fertility health. If you are healthy and below age 38 years you may wish to try IUI (intrauterine insemination) first to conceive, as this is less invasive and less costly. If you are over 38 of have any fertility issues then IVF or ICSI will be recommend to you.
Pride Angel's newly launched website also has a directory of fertility clinics. solicitors and other fertility services such as counselling and holistic health to help you along your journey.
Visit Pride Angel at www,prideangel.com
NOTE: Pride Angel is a UK based service. Legalities vary between countries; therefore we advise that you seek legal advice specifically within your country.