An Idea Catching On: Platonic Co-Parenting

Singles who want kids aren't waiting around for a romantic partner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 11, 2023 2:50 PM CDT
An Idea Catching On: Platonic Co-Parenting
Tracy Smith in Tulsa, Okla. Smith has been using the site Modamily to find a platonic co-parent. Her first choice would be to find a romantic partner, but the 43-year-old attorney calls modern dating exhausting.   (Jenny White Photography via AP)

Nick Farrow wanted what a lot of people do: a child, and a parenting partner. At 45, after a long-term romance didn't work out, he decided to take matters into his own hands, entering into a platonic open arrangement that has flourished for nine years, since daughter Milly was born. Farrow is not that much of an outlier: Whether it's with friends, known sperm donors, or co-parenting connections made on so-called mating sites, more families are coming together platonically, without the pain of divorce or the added stress and expense of going it alone, writes Leanne Italie for the AP. Choosing to parent together platonically while living separately or under the same roof is an idea that's been around for years among LGBTQ+ people. However, it has gained ground more recently among heterosexuals, and interest skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Farrow and his parenting partner live about 15 miles apart, he in the English seaside town of Brighton. Their daughter, conceived through insemination, shuttles between the two. Not unlike divorced couples with kids, the two come together for Milly's birthdays, and they sometimes alternate Christmases and other special occasions. Farrow met his parenting partner on Modamily, one of a handful of sites and apps aimed at family building, as opposed to the hookup culture and endless swiping of dating services. Since 2011, about 100,000 people from around the world have registered on Modamily. At least 1,000 babies have been born through partnerships created there, said founder and CEO Ivan Fatovic. About half involved known sperm donors from a database of nearly 10,000 that the site maintains, he said.

There's no one scenario that defines elective co-parenting. Most, but definitely not all, platonic co-parents live separately. Some who seek out Modamily or similar services are in search of sperm donors they can meet personally, with or without the potential to share their lives once a baby is born. Other parenting partnerships come together out of need for financial and care support in raising children. Still others involve two friends who want children without romance. And there are those like Farrow, unlucky in love with a burning desire to parent, but not alone. (Read the full story, which has more real-life examples and more details about the need for a "thoughtful structure" on such arrangements.)

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