This post originally appeared on the blog PSFK.
What’s a successful, spouse-less person to do who wants a baby, but has a biological clock that’s running out? When assessing the options, most people tend to think of an anonymous sperm donor, or even “settling” and rushing into marriage.
But recently, a shift toward co-parenting has become a societal force to be reckoned with – more common among same-sex couples and outside the U.S., this child-rearing setup is taking hold with domestic, heterosexual couples. If the old adage goes, “There is a lid to every pot,” can one assume there is also a mother figure for every father figure that lack only the means to find one another?
With the family structure consistently being redefined, elective co-parenting is on the rise – popular websites such as Co-Parentmatch.com (U.K.) and GoBaby.co.il (Israel) already exist overseas to help wannabe moms match up with wannabe dads. Now with the launch of Modamily, a New York-based private social network for people looking to co-parent a child within the U.S., CEO and founder Ivan Fatovic is hoping the U.S. will follow suit: “What Modamily wants to do is start a national conversation and make people aware that co-parenting is a viable option.”
After stints in Hollywood and on Wall Street, Fatovic noticed that a lot of friends and colleagues spent their 20s and 30s focused on becoming financially successful, and put off having a family. “Many always thought they’d have time to start a family later. Then bam! – you blink and you’re 40, and the limitations of time kick in. There’s plenty of time to find Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, but only a certain amount of time to have a child.”
Attitudes regarding family values are shifting generally. A 2010 Pew Research survey found that millennials – the moms and dads of tomorrow – feel that being a good parent is more important than having a successful marriage, by a margin of 22% (vs. 7% in 1997) quantifying that romance and offspring are increasingly stand-alone tenets. To boot, celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have also familiarized the notion of child-rearing sans marriage. On a recent 2011 Today appearance, Pitt admitted that “The best thing I’ve done as a father is ensure my kids have a good mother.”
Could co-parenting help ensure that children grow up in stable, healthy environments? Households with a mom, dad, and kids under one roof amount to just 20% of U.S. homes at the time of the 2010 U.S. Census.
“Statistics show time and again that having two parents invested in a child’s welfare leads to the optimal outcome” says Modamily’s chief strategist Francis Fallon. “This requires two people that have a mutual respect for one another and the best interests of the child as a non-negotiable top priority.”
But will Americans accept the Internet as a source for finding a lifelong co-parent? Just a few short years ago, Internet relationships were a fringe culture practice – taboo or not admitted to openly. Increased acceptance of online dating has certainly paved the way for other long-term (familial) relationships to be instigated by Internet introductions. Adults have clearly grown much more comfortable with sharing and pursuing familial connections online – research from the BBC World Service says 21% of the U.S. admits to looking for romance through online dating, with this number skyrocketing to 59% in countries such as India.
The true test will come when Modamily is launched in January of 2012 (the site is currently in its preview phase). Modamily boasts a range of proprietary matching mechanisms geared toward a parenting mindset, such as compatibility with your potential co-parent’s inner circle (think aunts, uncles, grandparents) and videos to strip away any “scary” elements of online anonymity. The subscription-based site expects to find an audience among single professionals 30 to 50 years old, charging a premium entry fee to weed out any non-serious seekers.