non-traditional parenting for dummies
April 1, 2014 7:07 PM   Subscribe

What resources exist for non-romantic adult friends thinking about having a kid?

The basics: I'm a 40-year-old gay man. My best friend, a straight woman, recently proposed that we conceive and raise a child together. She would be the breadwinner; I'd be the stay-at-home dad. (She earns enough that finances would not be an issue.) The possibility is exciting and overwhelming.

I know there are plenty of families like this — but do any resources exist for them? I'm more interested in books/sites that help with the planning aspect, rather than memoirs like Fairyland (although I loved that book).

Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You may want to consult a lawyer. They say never mix friendship with money. A child is much more serious. What happens if you have a falling out? If you aren't married both of you will have trouble asserting your rights. I'm sorry, but this is something you need to think about and discuss before you move forward. A family lawyer might be appropriate.
posted by sockermom at 7:21 PM on April 1, 2014 [12 favorites]

There was a time in my life when I seriously considered becoming a single mother by choice. If you look for books on that topic, many at least had chapters on going the route of having a child with a friend and potentially co parenting, including discussions of possible legal pitfalls. Sorry I don't have any specific recommendations, but that may give you a jumping off point.
posted by amro at 7:28 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

What sockermom said, except with more emphasis -- a family law attorney should be the first thing to consult, no question. It's not a 'buying trouble in advance' thing, but laying down a solid foundation for the kid.

You want somebody to ask stuff like: What happens if she ends up disabled, when you've been out of the workforce for years? and do the paperwork for all the unpleasant flavours of possibilities. Unforeseen circumstances like that could be, depending on where in the world you live and what the laws are, a very rough ride for everybody.
posted by kmennie at 7:30 PM on April 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'll ask a question: in this day and age, non-traditional marriages are legal/illegal/accepted/not accepted/etc/etc.... and the children of those marriages are subject to those factors... but, the two of you could not only have a child together, but, could legally (anywhere) get married and eliminate all the legal hoops... have you considered that? (or, is that what you're considering but didn't state?)

best of luck to you....
posted by HuronBob at 8:05 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Folks, let's stick to what OP asked for -- books/sites/resources, not general brainstorming. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:17 PM on April 1, 2014

You can maybe find some relevant resources if you look into guidance for people considering open adoptions, or open surrogacy/egg/sperm donor relationships in countries where those exist. When I donated eggs to a good friend here in Australia where it is non-anonymous, and where we wanted potential children to grow up with full access to me and knowledge of my role in their conception, the counselling, legal advice and reading materials the clinic provided to us covered a lot of issues that are going to be exactly the same for you guys.

(E.g. what happens if one of you marries someone later who doesn't want to help support/see the children, what if one of you dies, what if you have a big falling out and never want to see each other again, what if the baby is born disabled and requires expensive medical treatment or heartbreaking medical decisions, what if the mother decides part way through the pregnancy to abort, what if you disagree on major parenting decisions, what if one of you needs to move overseas for work, etc. Some of these have clear legal answers, but they are still worth thinking about in terms of your own psychological health.)
posted by lollusc at 9:13 PM on April 1, 2014

By "exactly the same", I don't mean "will have the same answers", because of course they won't. But I mean issues that you too will need to consider and that might be problematic in similar ways.
posted by lollusc at 9:14 PM on April 1, 2014

you sound like my wife's ex-boss.

You'll want to drop up to a couple of thousand dollars on a lawyer to make sure you both know the score. Other than that you should be aware of community attitudes where you live and adapt accordingly. If it was me, I'd ask Dan Savage.
posted by singingfish at 10:20 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try talking to a family therapist who has unconventional families. Think of people you know with unusual family set-ups and ask them for recommendations. I would do this before the lawyer so you two can figure out what areas you're in agreement with, where you need to have clear decision making and so on. A good family therapist has probably done stuff like this for families and single parents considering adoption as part of homestudies, and can give you a framework of the issues that need to be discussed - discipline, education, how you'll explain your family to your relatives, religion or not, etc, and then mediate you through to common ground.

Parenting is parenting. The book I like for parents trying to figure out their style is Becoming the parent you want to be which offers several different styles of parenting, mostly hippy-dippy.

You'll also want to meet with a financial planner to talk about the cost, taxes and budget etc as an unmarried couple parenting. Get a recommendation from another GLBT family - which as a gay dad, you guys are going to default into even if mom is straight.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:15 AM on April 2, 2014

Stonewall is a UK organisation but this guide might be a starting point for you in terms of resources. This book also seems like it might have some relevent information and is well reviewed. Good luck!
posted by billiebee at 1:07 AM on April 2, 2014

I don't know where you live, but there are monthly groups at the LGBT center in NYC that discuss exactly these types of arrangements. Perhaps the center in your area has something similar? Look under their "Family" section.

It's very helpful to talk to people who are going through similar things. The people who lead the groups are great resources.
posted by valeries at 5:01 AM on April 2, 2014

Lambda Legal is likely to have some resources for you. If you can't find anything on their site, call them up. Nice folks.
posted by juniperesque at 6:23 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this counts, since it's fiction, but the Dangerous Angels series spends a lot of time talking about non-traditional families and the central characters are a straight woman and a gay man who live together and decide to conceive and raise a child together (along with the gay man's partner).
posted by 256 at 7:19 AM on April 2, 2014

I agree that a couple of visits with a therapist might be in order. You effectively need to do marriage counseling, to discover how you will work together and support each other when conflicts arise.

Parenting is a constant negotiation of the most mundane of issues ("Put a long-sleeve on him, it's cold out" "But it's supposed to be hot in a couple of hours, he'll be fine in a short-sleeve" "I think he's getting too much milk, I want to switch him to soy" "Soy is bad, he needs regular milk to build good muscle tone" "He needs a bath tonight" "He doesn't need a bath tonight, he had a bath last night" etc etc etc etc).

The thing is, married couples generally have had a while to work out how they resolve these small every day conflicts. If you haven't lived together you haven't had this practice; you've both been two individuals who have had final authority and control over the decisions you've made. When you suddenly have to negotiate every. single. decision. you make, that's how resentment is born.

Amro and sockermom also have excellent advice.

Best of luck to you, it does sound like an exciting proposition.
posted by vignettist at 8:19 AM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I really liked the Berkeley Parents Network back when I was a newbie parent. Lots of resources and advice to peruse... All Kinds Of Families category or What's It Like To Be A Known Donor discussion thread for example are right up your alley.

(To be clear, I understand you are not looking to be a donor but some of the issues overlap).

Good luck!
posted by rada at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2014

A friend did this with her friend. Same situation, although she was in a relationship with another woman. They had three parents. Worked out great except for the German authorities who tried to deny their girl the parent's choice of name after his deceased boyfriend--because it wasn't on the list. She won her appeal.

Should work fine. I don't know of what resources they did use.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2014

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