Co-parenting

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"

Jeffrey Walker had two children with a female friend in what he calls a "leap of faith." He doesn't regret a thing.

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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So far in our podcast, we mostly interviewed dads who had their kids either through surrogacy or adoption. But there are other ways in which you can become dads. In this week's episode we look at two ways that are often overlooked: Known Sperm Donor, and Co-Parenting.

David Dodge, managing editor at GaysWithKids.com is a father of two children, who he had together with a lesbian couple. Though he has no legal rights with his daughter and son, they still call him 'papa,' and his parents go to visit their grand children even when he's not around. In our interview, David sheds light on being a Known Sperm Donor.

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 hello@daddysqr.com

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 GaysWithKids.com, 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 (GaysWithKids.com)
Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)
11 Steps Gay Men Should Take Before Co-Parenting With a Female Friend (Bill Delaney, GaysWithKids.com)





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

J.R. and Bill with their daughters

Gay Dad Life

The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out.

Photo credit: https://eliseabigail.com/

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.

"For some that may be a sustainable life, but denying a core value of myself began to take its toll on me, and I had to own up to my own truth to salvage my life and my relationships with the people I love." Despite the difficulties in doing so, he eventually, he came out. Today, he's co-parenting with his ex-wife and they're still best friends. This November, he's getting married to the man of his dreams. But most importantly, he's proud to be a positive example to his 7-year-old daughter.

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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

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.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

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!

Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

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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Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

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."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"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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