FAQ About Parenting Partnerships

What are parenting partnerships?

Parenting partnerships, sometimes called co-parenting (or “known donor”) relationships, are when persons who are not romantically linked to one another decide that they want to build a relationship that will lead to raising a child together.

Why would someone consider a parenting partnership?

Some people may have had that close friend in high school or college, with whom they once said, “we’re both very compatible – if both of us hit a certain age and we’re still single, we should have a child together.” Of course, most of these friends go on to get married / partnered and likely have children of their own – but some don’t!

Today, in the United States alone, approximately 20% of all adults never have a child over the course of their lifetimes.  For some, this is by choice.  For others, this is by circumstance.  There are many professional, successful adults in this country in their 30s and above who have developed a strong set of values, inspiring life experiences, and significant personal resources – but for varying reasons are currently single or not otherwise in a relationship where parenting with a romantic partner is a possibility.

We believe that there are a lot of loving, caring, responsible persons – who have a lot to offer their children and who would make great parents – whose personal circumstances have not afforded them the opportunity to explore parenthood.  FamilyByDesign wants to give these adults that option.

So is co-parenting about having a child with a stranger?

Definitely not.  Parenting partnerships should not happen overnight.  The goal of FamilyByDesign is not to bring strangers together to have a baby, but to connect people with similar goals, values, and outlook on parenting, such that they can start to get to know one another and begin a friendship / personal relationship that may lead to a parenting partnership.

Based on our research and interviews of parenting partners, its clear that the most successful partnerships are ones in which the partners take a great deal of time to get to know one another.  This can vary by how much time you spend together, but once you think you’ve found “the one”, at least six months to a year of getting to know each other should be part of your parenting plan (if not longer).  This gives each of you the time to decide if you’re truly compatible for a long-term parenting relationship with one another.  FamilyByDesign strongly believes that if you have any hesitations about whether you’ve found the right parenting partner, you should consider making a friendly conclusion to the process with that person, and look for someone who is truly your co-parenting match.

Are parenting partnerships appropriate for everyone?

Absolutely not!  We can’t emphasize that enough.  Co-parents are signing up for a LIFETIME commitment in relation to having a child.  You are not signing up for a nice pair of shoes; they cannot be returned if you decide later you don’t like them.  You are signing up for becoming the parent of a child, which is an enormous lifetime responsibility.

We recognize that, for many people, in the first few months of a parenting dialogue there’s an initial excitement at the prospect of becoming a parent.  Its exactly at this time – in the early phase – when we would strongly discourage the parenting partners from conceiving.  We believe that people need some time to absorb the significance, and the consequences (both good and bad!) of signing up to become a parent for the rest of their lives.

Once that “initial stage” subsides, if the parenting partners still feel that (1) they’ve found the right person to be their parenting partner, and (2) they’re still ready to become a parent, then we say – congratulations!

FamilyByDesign is here to help you through each of these stages, from first steps to after your child is born.  Please read more about the issues and stages of co-parenting in our “Learn” section, and if you still have questions, you should Ask Our Experts or Ask Our Parenting Partners who can share their insights into the parenting partnership process.

Why do you include “known donors” along with co-parents in your definition of parenting partnerships?

We include known sperm donors along with co-parents for three reasons.

First, some people use the term “known donors” to mean what other people think of as “co-parenting”.  If someone thinks of co-parenting as a perfect 50/50 split in terms of time and financial commitment, they may use the term “known donor” to describe a relationship where the majority of time commitment is spent with one parent over the other. Others would still consider this co-parenting, so for clarification it’s important to include both.

Second, our interviews and research have found that many men who initially sign up as a parenting partner with the intention to be simply a known donor (i.e., where his identity and contact information is available to the family and his biological child) actually end up becoming significantly involved in the child’s life.  These men – and their parenting partners – may have intended that there would be a very limited parenting role, but as the child grows, they find that they are spending more and more time with their child.  Therefore, “known donors” sometimes become “co-parents” in the child’s life.

Third, FamilyByDesign believes that, even for those parenting partners set on a donor-type parenting relationship, a “known donor” is superior to an “anonymous donor”.   The reasons we believe a known sperm donor is superior is because:

-          Women can get a much more personal feel for, and better understanding of, exactly who the biological father is before deciding on the right sperm donor.  Anonymous donors restrict your ability to understand your donor’s personality.

-          Women can maintain contact with their donor in the years to come, so that they can get any questions answered, or provide / receive any needed information (e.g., additional medical information), and share information on their child’s development.

-          Children will have the opportunity to know who their biological father is, and the door is left open to have the opportunity to develop a relationship with their father.

For these reasons, for those persons seeking a sperm donor specifically, FamilyByDesign wishes to promote the use of known donors over anonymous donors on our website.

What are some of the common concerns with / objections to parenting partnerships?

Please see our page on “Concerns About Parenting Partnerships”.

Why wouldn’t someone just become a single parent without a parenting partner?

Becoming a single parent is an enormous, and often overwhelming, undertaking.  This typically means little support for the single parent, either personally, emotionally, or financially.  For most, the lack of support makes their day-to-day life (which usually includes a full-time job) incredibly difficult.  While some single parents have done this quite successfully, others find it a burden that is simply too much for one person to bear.

Additionally, FamilyByDesign believes that having two parental figures in a child’s life is far superior to a single parent.  Most parenting research has shown a clear benefit to children in having more than one parent, and we would like to support those findings by encouraging prospective single parents to find a parenting partner, rather than “go it alone” completely.

Where can I learn more about parenting partnerships / co-parenting / known donors?

You’re in the right place!  Visit the “Learn” portion of our website to start learning more about parenting partnerships.  Once you’ve explored our substantial online content, you can head over to the “Share” portion of our website to ask questions and get your questions answered by our professional experts (see “Ask The Experts”) and/or our co-parent experts (see “Ask The Co-Parents”), as well as by other prospective co-parents (in our Forums).

What if I need additional help or have other questions about FamilyByDesign?

We’re always here to help!  Please send us a message via our “Contact Us” page.  We strive to respond to every inquiry within 24 hours.