One of the potential sperm donors that I met was interested in co-parenting. It didn’t come out at first, but the more we spoke, the more it became clear. Finally when I asked what this possible arrangement looked like for him, he said it was a 50-50 time split. He wanted to be a parent too, and for him, that meant sharing duties.
My heart sank. This was not what I wanted. But, I was single, and everything else about this guy was feeling good so far, so we continued our meetings.
My Co-Parenting “Pros”
As we spoke and got to know each other, the pros of co-parenting snuck up on me. In many respects there was much in common with my original idea. I wanted a known donor so he could be involved and be part of our lives; this felt congruent. As a single woman, I was preparing to be a single parent. Having someone around who would be just as excited by and invested in this child as me, was enticing. The more we talked, the more we began to imagine living in a duplex or at least close by, and talking at the kitchen table after bedtime stories. As a single woman, having help I could count on, and having another “constant” for this child – since partners can come and go – was a definite plus. My mother reminded me that I can’t do everything alone and I started to think that maybe this turn of events was a blessing in disguise. My desire for community was also feeling closer to becoming a reality. But I had a nagging feeling just the same.
My Co-Parenting “Cons”
The biggest con for me was feeling tied to someone who was not my life partner. The more I thought about it, the more it made me nervous. What if I want to move? I thought. Secondly (and tied to the first) was the possibility of one day having a partner. How would she fit in? How would she feel like part of the family if she wasn’t making decisions for this child? Not everyone wants to parent, so this may be a “pro” rather than a “con” but it seemed unlikely that someone would come into a relationship with me knowing I have a child, and not want to be part of the family. And then, wouldn’t I want to be making these important and possibly relationship-impacting decisions about this child with her? The nagging feeling now had a name.
Clarifying Terminology and Definitions
During our discussions it became clear that although I was using the term “known donor with benefits” and he was using “co-parent”, our ideas of what these were weren’t as far apart as I had originally thought. Basically he wanted to be involved. Maybe a 50-50 split was not necessary, he volunteered, and said he would think about it. This helped me feel more settled, but the jury was still out.
Ultimately, we both met someone special and the decision became clear. I wanted to parent with my partner. So did he. That ended the discussion. He was a great fit, but for that one BIG logistic. Despite everything, it was a good exercise in becoming more clear, in entertaining a different possibility, and in examining the pros and cons. And of course, of going with the flow.