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2 Mums and 2 Dads. Peoples experiences of Co-parenting. Any advice appreciated...

(13 Posts)
makingafamily Tue 01-Jul-08 18:13:06

Hi all

Found this site late last night and couldnt wait to get in from work to have a read through the message boards.

Me and my partner of 3 years have decided to start a family. Although we had always been adamant that we would use an anonymous donor, after alot of discussion we decided to ask our best friends who are a gay male couple. The boys jumped at the chance and we have spent the last month together discussing things we never thought we'd discuss and everything feels very at ease and so right. We have decided to start trying at the end of August which gives us some time to check out legal options (issues around PR) and get ourselves in optimal health as well as discussing things with close friends and family.

(Sorry this is turning into such as essay, i'm just a little over excitable about this!! lol)

Anyone, i was wondering if their were any other lesbian parents on here that have co-parenting arrangements with a gay male couple as woukd be great to get advice from others as i have found very little on the net.

Thanks in advance grin

Dottydot Tue 01-Jul-08 18:21:18

Hi - can't write much as on a train but will write an essay later! Our experience is different but I'd love to let you know how our experience has been with using a straight male friend as our donor to our 2 ds's!

Will find this thread in a few hours and update...

makingafamily Tue 01-Jul-08 18:23:20

Hi Dottydot

That would be great grin


Dottydot Thu 03-Jul-08 15:38:39

finally - 2 minutes peace (kind of - ds's fighting in the other room grin).

First, just wanted to say hello and hope all goes well!

Dp and I chose someone we knew to be the donor for our children. He's straight and single and someone dp knew from secondary school.

We spent a year thinking about it and discussing it and met a few times (he lived a couple of hundred miles away at the time) to talk through the 'what ifs'. We also wrote a statement of intent, which although isn't legally binding, would give an indication to any courts of how we intended to parent our children should this be necessary.

7 years later and it's all good, but I suppose I just wanted to chuck in a damp squib or two (sorry) to be annoying/helpful.

The one thing that takes your breath away when your babies arrive is how protective/possessive you can feel. When dp and I started trying to get pregnant we took it in turns and she got pregnant first, so for those 9 months and a few months later I felt a bit weird, and worried about what if our donor father fell immediately in love with ds1 (how could he not?! smile) and wanted more 'rights'? Of course this didn't happen and he's incredibly true to how he said he'd approach it - very hand off unless we want more involvement from him.

But if you're going ahead with a gay male couple I'm kind of assuming they may want more co-parenting type responsibilities? Please make sure you all spell out what each of you imagines this might be.

In our statement of intent for example, we said that donor father could see the children regularly, up to 1 weekend a fortnight. He didn't want anywhere near this much contact, but we wanted to cover bases in case he ended up wanting more. And if fact even if he'd have wanted what we agreed, i'm not sure I'd have been happy..!

Emotions are tricky things - they get in the way of all logic and reason - and emotions are hugely amplified when babies come on the scene.

So, yes, 7 years later we live down the road from ds's Dad - they worship and adore him and see him every few weeks for tea or he takes them out.

The issue now is we'd love them to see him more - but this wasn't part of the deal... They accept that this is how much he's around, but me and dp would love him to see them maybe once a week/fortnight.

So even when things are as near 100% perfect as they can be, there's always going to be something you wish could be different!

Anyway, I'm sure none of that's helped really, but just keep thinking about all the possibilities/options and how you each want it to work - and good luck! smile

makingafamily Mon 07-Jul-08 16:36:42

Hey Dotty thats really useful. We are all in agreement that it will be a co-parenting agreement with all 4 of us having PR. The little one will live with us and have regular contact with the boys and although we have started drawing up a statement of intend its will be used as a guidance as opposed to written in stone.

I just want to get started now but its still another 6 weeks. I feel like im gonna burst lol

kayjayel Wed 09-Jul-08 10:10:44

How exciting for you! We have a two mum family with a known donor (but not dad). It works for us, but I was just thinking if we were going to share parenting (with all having PR) then I would have wanted to have lots of chats about parenting choices first to see where any areas of disagreement were. I think difference is good for kids to experience, but its best to talk through differences before they're happening to air them - what is negotiable, what is okay to be different on, what would you never compromise on etc.

I think looking through MN probably gives you an idea of the most contentious debates - feeding method, controlled crying, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, weaning at 6 mths, smacking, managing behaviour, types of food, dummy, the list is endless. I was surprised by how protective I was (just like dottydot said), and how important all of these little things became once I had my precious baby. And how I felt that I was the one who had ultimate say because I made him (well, I was okay with sharing parenting with my partner, but we didn't disagree on much so it was never tested). But definitely read lots of MN - I've found that every stress or difficulty I encounter has already been posted and discussed here, so its a good introduction to all the many issues of parenting.

Good luck with sorting out an agreement and then conceiving!

Dottydot Wed 09-Jul-08 10:32:29

Yes, have conversations about everything you can think of - who has final decision on names, schools, haircuts, breast/bottle feeding, controlled crying, discipline, weaning - all of you will have an opinion...

Ds's dad was less than impressed for example with ds2's name - but he didn't get a vote..! It was hard enough sorting things like this out with just me and dp and if you factor in exhaustion and emotions it's potentially very tricky.

Sorry - don't mean to put a downer on it - just all keep talking and whoever the birth Mum and Dad are, acknowledge that from time to time (and I've found it lessens with time and is much easier with subsequent children!) Jealousy, worries etc can come into play.

pofaced Wed 09-Jul-08 11:05:01

I have no experience of co-parenting and am from traditional set-up ie atraight, married etc but I have known gay friends who have fathered chidren and the arrangements have become quite complex (and fraught at times) as the child grows up.

I think you need to think very carefully about 4 people having full PR: a 4 way conflict would be very difficult to manage. Relations between adults change over time, both in relationships and between friends because being a parent is the single most life altering stage in life. Assorted threads here about relationships between partners/ spouses here plus threads about ex-partners/ spouses and parenting demonstarte the infintie variety of stresses and strains.

I think Dottydot's advice seems wise: I'd check out others with 4 way PR arrangments.

Good luck!

makingafamily Wed 09-Jul-08 19:25:56

Thanks for all your advice. We plan to have a written contract although not legal could be used if things go wrong within family mediation.

We have discussed so much and the boys are in agreement that throughout pregnancy and the baby period then myself and my partner will have the ultimate say in what happens as its my body and the baby with live with us full time so in regards to feeding/controlled crying etc the boys are happy to follow our lead. I know things can change but these are two people we love and trust very much and we hope if there are ever any major issues we can use the contract to bring us back in agreement

As lil one gets older then we will negotiate things as they arise, we all have very shared views on parenting styles, discipline, health, diet, education etc etc so it feels like we are starting on the same page. I dont doubt that there will be disagreemnts over the years but aslong as we remain communicating then i believe we should be work through anything that gets thrown at us.

I am meeting with someone next thursday for coffee who has a family like the one we are planning so am looking forward to picking her brain

MamaChris Wed 16-Jul-08 07:40:13

We are a 3 parent family (2 mums, 1 dad, all have PR). I would echo dottydot. I think we were all quite shocked at first at just how strong our emotions were around the new baby. We failed to spell out in advance exactly how much contact we would all have (were just so excited to be starting a family). We really should have, as this has been the problem area so far.

Good luck!

hester Thu 24-Jul-08 22:25:37

Hi, my dd has two mums and a dad (gay male donor, sees her weekly). I would agree with many of these points; I think it's damn hard to co-parent even with someone you love and live with, so think carefully about how it works with four people. Our deal is that me and dp are primary parents and all the day-to-day decision-making is down to us. We do consult dd's dad on major decisions but, to be honest, we're only consulting; I don't know how I'd take it if he genuinely fought against a decision I thought was right; I don't think I'd be very impressed!

One thing to think through is the non-biological mother's legal position. Our dd's dad is named on her birth certificate and that means my dp is not able to adopt her. Civil partnership is some help here but do think through how you would protect the non-bio mum's position in case, god forbid, the two of you split up or worse.

Money is another sticky to think through. We were very reluctant to get into any arrangement that involved us poking around his financial affairs, or he into ours, so we use the CSA formula (for better or worse) to set child support.

Everyone is right to warn you that emotions run high after a baby is born. It is vital that you trust your prospective co-parents' integrity when the going gets tough i.e. that however much you may all be hating each other, no-one will renege on the deal, resort to the law (unless absolutely necessary) or act in any way that adversely affects the child. In my own case, I think all of us - me, dp and dd's dad - have had times when we've been utterly upset and fed up with the others, but three years on we have all stuck completely to the deal we agreed, nobody has played silly games, and our daughter is happy and loved.

It is a tough and complicated thing to do, but so so worth it! Very best of luck.

makingafamily Sun 27-Jul-08 13:17:00

Well we're started making notes about a contract and all is going well

I spent the day with the boys yesterday and we went over to A's mums house which was lovely as got to see the boys with A's nephews which pretty much melted my heart and the support from A's mum is just amazing, although she still wants a football team lol shock

makingafamily Sun 27-Jul-08 13:17:38

Oops and i meant to say thank you for all your advice and supportive messages x

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