by Guest Blogger: Diana Adams
To Whom it May Concern,
I am a female seeking a committed gay couple to raise a child with. What better way than to raise a child with two fathers? Most heterosexual men take the gift of fatherhood for granted. I am a 21 year old healthy college educated woman with a BA from the university of California, majored in psychology and a feminist. How can I find a gay couple to co-parent with? Thank you for your time.
By Diana Adams, Esq, LGBT Lawyer and Family Mediator
Dear Co-Parenting Curious,
I agree with you that it takes a village to raise a child, and a child can really benefit from having three dedicated and stable parental figures. Many kids benefit from having two great gay dads. As an attorney and family mediator, I assist many families in creating creative co-parenting situations, such as between a straight woman and her close gay friend, a polyamorous triad, or two heterosexual couples. The key factors that lead to success are trust between the co-parents, open honest communication, and a real commitment from all co-parents to put the child first even if the relationships between the adults shift over the eighteen years the child is at home.
The imperative for deep trust between co-parents requires me to caution you in your attempts to find a gay couple with whom to co-parent. The decision to raise children with someone is grave and serious. This should not be undertaken with someone met recently on the internet. Some well-meaning LGBTQ Centers and websites offer ‘sperm and egg mixers’ or similar match-making events to pair up women who want kids with gay men who want kids, too. But deciding to have kids together must be treated with more seriousness than a swapmeet. In order to raise a child together for at least eighteen years, make all medical and educational decisions together, handle discipline and crisis as a united front, coordinate the annoyances of weekly childcare, rely on each other for financial support, and agree that you may sacrifice your career or other romance in order to live in close proximity, one must make a commitment with a co-parent that is at least as sacred as a marriage. Raising a child together requires as much trust and intimacy as a committed romantic relationship in many ways, but if you rush into a bad marriage, you are only affecting your own lives, whereas if you make rash mistakes with co-parenting, you may negatively affect a child.
So while a single person might meet dating prospects with an explicit desire to marry, I argue that they should usually spend several years as a couple before actually marrying (if they’d like to avoid seeing me for divorce mediation later). Similarly, if a straight woman wants to co-parent with a gay couple, she should cultivate a gay community over several years and find some gay best friends to explore this choice with eventually. For those meeting at ‘sperm-egg mixers’, I strongly suggest meeting someone with common ideas and goals, and then leaving aside the topic of co-parenting for at least a year while you just get to know each other. Even in this non-romantic context, it is all too easy to get swept up in the giddy idea of co-parenting and get ahead of yourselves.
There are serious legal risks for three people attempting to co-parent. The law generally only recognizes two legal parents, usually the birth mother and the man who impregnates the woman or serves as sperm donor. So for a straight woman and gay couple in a co-parenting situation, there is a risk for that the non-biological father in the gay couple. If he became estranged from the biological father or the biological father died, he could be shut out of the child’s life and denied visitation access the child. These situations have happened to many lesbian and gay couples with heart-breaking results. This is why you need to trust the integrity of your relationships before contemplating a three person co-parenting agreement.
In order to create the most stable and legally-binding co-parenting situation, I recommend the following. Proceed only with potential co-parents you know very well and would trust with your life. Find an LGBT friendly attorney mediator with experience writing co-parenting agreements, and get assistance negotiating everyone’s intentions and visions. Include details about financial responsibilities, medical and educational decision-making, caretaking expectations, and anticipate visitation access with the child to all in the event of estrangement of the co-parents. After the child’s birth, seek a legal guardianship for the non-biological parent in your local court with an attorney’s assistance. Go forward prioritizing the child’s best interest and enjoying your creative and intentional family. I wish you wonderful stable modern parenthood!
Diana Adams is an LGBT lawyer mediator who assists in the creation of stable family agreements, including sperm donor agreements, second-parent adoptions, co-parenting agreements, intentional premarital agreements, co-habitation agreements, and respectful collaborative divorce and child custody. Her practice is based in New York City and Albany, NY.