Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Co-Parenting Match

How FamilyByDesign Helps Prospective Co-Parents Find Each Other

Do gay men really need one more online matchmaking service?

You bet, says entrepreneur Darren Spedale. Just not for the reason you perhaps expected.

“Part of my role is to educate people about co-parenting as an option,” says Spedale, founder of FamilyByDesign. “It’s amazing how many people I speak to who say, ‘I never really thought about that as an option. But now that I do, it makes perfect sense.’”

Expecting something else? Sorry to disappoint. The only hook-ups that happen through FamilyByDesign are new platonic partnerships between individuals who are ready to have a child in their life – but not necessarily a romantic relationship. Co-parenting is the catchall term for the arrangement, though it can take many forms and arise from very different motivations. Some people seek co-parenting partnerships because they’re still single, despite a biological clock ringing on full blast; others are committed gay couples who still want their child to have an opposite-sex adult figure. Some seek a relationship where child rearing is shared 50/50; others simply prefer a “known donor” or surrogate situation. (For more background on the concept, check out Gays With Kids blogger Bill Delaney’s multi-part series.)

What they’ve all had in common, until now, is this: a dearth of available resources. That’s where Darren Spedale stepped in, launching FamilyByDesign last year. Its website is filled with co-parenting primers (“Learn”) that offer information on every element to consider, including vitally important medical, financial and legal aspects. Plus there are forums to connect with and query professional experts and existing co-parents (“Share”). But one of its most innovative offerings is a service that helps prospective co-parents seek a compatible match. Upload a profile, answer dozens of questions about your lifestyle, values, and preferences, and you’re on your way.

Spedale is a self-described “serial entrepreneur” and founder of StartOut, a nonprofit that fosters the development of LGBT innovators. And FamilyByDesign smartly answers what may become an increasingly growing call for co-parenting resources. Spedale points to a 2010 Pew Foundation study that found 52% of millennials (18 to 29 year-olds) regarded parenthood as “one of the most important things in life.” That was well above the 30% who said the same of marriage.

But Spedale says that FamilyByDesign was spawned as much by personal interest as professional opportunity. He came out at 19 while attending Duke University, and immersed himself in studying modern families. His senior thesis on domestic partnerships paved the way for the school to offer benefits to employees; on a Fulbright Fellowship, he spent several years studying nontraditional family structures. Already the author of a book on gay marriage, he’s finishing his second tome, a guide to co-parenting — a possibility he’s considered for himself. Spedale’s situation is typical of those that investigate co-parenting options, he says: romantically independent and ready for a child, but hesitant to take on the pressures of single parenthood.

That he’s gay is no coincidence. “When it comes to co-parenting, the LGBT community has led the way for a long time,” says Spedale. He says that one of the most commonly sought configurations seems to be straight women seeking a gay man to co-parent. Gay male couples and lesbian couples often form parenting partnerships too. But whatever the permutation, all users seeking matches through FamilyByDesign fill out comprehensive profiles that include open-ended responses to prompts about their “Views on Parenting”: eating habits, views on discipline, and religious upbringing are among the areas covered. Users describe the characteristics of their “Ideal Partner,” explaining how they’d approach the sharing of finance and time. And the “Compatibility Survey” contains dozens of broad-ranging questions, like “How do you care for the environment?” “Should boys be circumcised?” “What’s your typical evening out with friends?” and “What would you do if you discovered your teenager had marijuana?” Users can indicate how important it is that their match’s answer be similar; an algorithm then computes scores and makes suggestions that are sortable by level of compatibility, geographical distance, and more.

Sound familiar? It’s no wonder. “It really is like a dating process,” says Spedale, who generally suggests that potential partners generally spend at least a year getting to know each other. After all, it’s after the euphoria and excitement of finding a prospect fades that some of the most important conversations, conflicts, questions and answers can arise.

Of course, there’s still some uncharted territory regarding co-parenting itself. Legally speaking, it’s still the Wild West: potentially thorny legal issues involving co-parent rights could arise, according to Spedale. Since FamilyByDesign was largely conceived for co-parents who want to have biological offspring, there’s still more to learn about the dynamics of same-sex platonic co-parents. (As in, gay dads who want to raise a child with, but not date, another dad.) And there are many unknowns that each couple must address on their own. For instance: if one co-parent dates, when, how and to what extent should another adult be integrated into the child’s life?

But with FamilyByDesign, there’s now a wide breadth of resources available to educate those exploring co-parenting as an option – and maybe even help them find someone on the same path. “It makes me feel good to connect people who have so much love to give,” says Spedale. “And co-parenting is an especially important possibility for gay men and gay families, who have the ability to create their families in the ways that make the most sense for who they are.”


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Gay Dad Family Stories

Ever Consider Having Kids With a Female Friend? This Single Gay Dad Says It Was His "Greatest Decision"

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Meet Jeffrey Walker, a 56-year-old Communications Director for a large nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over a decade ago, he made the "greatest decision ever" and became a proud single dad to two incredible daughters through an intentional co-parenting arrangement. Here's his story.

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In our second interview we had Bill Delaney and husband J.R. Parish on a Skype call from San Francisco. They are co-parents of two girls together with a lesbian couple. In the call they discuss this carefully planned (and amazing!) arrangement.

During the episode, we count the ways* in which gay men can currently become dads:
1. Adoption
2. Surrogacy
3. Men who come out of straight partnerships and marriages
4. Sperm Donation (known or unknown donor)
5. Co-parenting

*If you would like to add to or comment on this list please write to us at

Our Family Coalition

Our Family Coalition (OFC) is based in the Bay Area but is the largest state-wide advocacy organization for LGBT families. They've contributed to varying degrees to everything from marriage equality court cases, to getting LGBT inclusive curriculum added to CA's public school system, to achieving the multi-parent legal recognition that was mentioned on our interview with Bill and J.R.

Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen

Guests: David Dodge, Bill Delaney & J.R. Parish
Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here
Articles referred to in this episode:
Putting the 'Known' in Known Sperm Donor (David Dodge, The New York Times)
The Known Sperm Donor (
Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples (Bill Delaney,
11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend (Bill Delaney,

For any questions, comments or advise, please do not hesitate to contact us at or on Twitter @yanirdekel

J.R. and Bill with their daughters

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Photo credit:

Nate Wormington had lived much of his life not being true to himself. He had a beautiful baby girl, was married to his best friend and soul mate, but there was still no doubt in his mind that he was gay. Still, he chose to stay in a heterosexual relationship lifestyle, and it was making him incredibly depressed.

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Read the full article here.


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British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

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In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

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Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

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The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

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"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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