Like any modern family, there are many ‘ways to grow a family’ and Co-parenting is becoming just one of those many ways.
Regardless of whether you're Co-parenting from circumstances or choice, the parents agree to put the needs of the child first.
It really does take a modern village to raise a modern child.
Meet Chris and his partner Mirko.
Today they have a three-year-old daughter and they share her parenting responsibilities with their two female friends, Anna and Jennifer. Chris also shares additional parenting responsibilities with their 18-month-old son, while Mirko is just the Uncle. But it wasn’t always like that.
Wait - feeling confused and starting to need a flow chart to keep track of who's who and how?
Relax - it's Co-parenting.
A proud gay dad, if you ever ask Chris about his daughter he'll show you what can feel like 100+ photos of her (that he just happened to have on hand from last weekend's photoshoot). He'll also tell you,
“I always knew I would be a parent, I didn’t know how but it had to happen. I love kids and I love family - it's who I am and it's super important to me”.
As a child, Chris helped his own single mother raise 3 younger siblings, but when he began dating, his plans for future fatherhood seemed to be in conflict with his dating experience. That was until he met his partner Mirko, who was already a proud and active ‘Funcle’ (aka the Fun Uncle) to his own nephews and nieces.
Together, over the next two years, they looked for ways to build their own family. They discussed fostering, looked seriously into adopting, and even ran some very detailed numbers on the cost of altruistic surrogacy in Australia.
Chris wanted a biological link to a child of his own, whereas Mirko had no especially strong feelings either way, as long as he could be the fun dad.
“Through mutual friends, we met a lesbian couple Anna and Jennifer who also wanted to have a baby of their own. At first, we just shared our respective frustrations about growing our own family and the cost of surrogacy, over weekend dinners together. Over time it was clear they were looking for ways to create their on family too and we all became really good friends”.
Over time, they began to discuss if they ‘could use each other's reproductive capabilities’ to have a child?
They talked about each other's parenting expectations, their hopes for the future, compared ideas about how their own parents and circles of friends might react to them becoming parents, and discussed the types of support each had and might need.
Over time they all slowly edged a little closer towards the idea of them all becoming parents and Co-parenting. Eventually, they had separate discussions with a solicitor - both to get clarity on their important decision and to formalise their shared plans for the future.
Together they are happy Co-parents, and another modern family.
Simply put, Co-parenting is an arrangement (formal and in writing or informal but clearly understood) made between two or more people to raise a child together, when the two biological parents are not in a romantic relationship with one another.
Gay couples don't stumble into parenthood by accident. It's always a deliberate act.
Everyone who comes to us as a Co-parent has given parenting a great deal of thought, has the resources to care for a child and all share the same commitment - to make sure those they love are protected and provided for financially, in case a parent unexpectedly becomes disabled or passes away.
Most parents start with the idea of having a realistic picture of ‘what they want family life to look like, if they are unexpectedly disabled or no longer around’.
Pro Tip: As an absolute minimum, we say make sure you have adequate life and disability insurance in place to buy a nice place to live, to replace your income for at least a year, and consider what it will cost to safely provide for your children (and a partner or guardian to care for them) through to at least the end of their education.
You can read more about How Much is Enough, here.
Co-parents put particular time into making sure insurance policy beneficiaries are clearly identified and they make sure they get clear on their own estate planning needs as well, to make sure there is a family backup plan in place, just in case.
Having an ongoing relationship with a specialist financial adviser like the team behind Unusual Risks Insured, means they never lose track of important paperwork and policies, they can make updates as needed and they don't have to constantly re-explain their family structure to a stranger whose attitudes toward modern family life might not match their own.
In short, taking control of your family’s future means peace of mind - knowing you have done everything you can as a parent, to protect and provide for your family — biological and logical.
Read our blog Single Parents Need Life Insurances Too.
Whether you're Co-parenting by circumstance or choice, taking a deliberate approach to growing and protecting your family has clear benefits. Each person has different needs and abilities and each situation has unique risks to manage.
Regardless of how you might Co-parent, whether by circumstances or choice, putting the needs and best interest of the child you love first, is what guides your decisions.
And isn't that what a modern family should be about?
Deciding to have a baby is a big decision for anyone, but for a couple living with HIV the decision is more complicated. Tina and Garry today join the growing numbers of seroconcordant couples in Australia who have successfully given birth to healthy babies.
Mother to child transmission of HIV is rare in Australia and usually only occurs when the woman doesn't find out she's HIV-positive in time to take precautions to prevent it.
Thanks to the medical treatments now available, HIV positive people have a better quality of life, and that’s why it’s common for many couples in this position to consider the possibility of starting a family.
And thanks to the specialty life insurance advisers at unusualrisks.com.au HIV positive people and diabetics can now also qualify for high-quality life insurance too. This was something that for many years was simply impossible.
Tina and Garry wanted to become pregnant and decided they would learn everything they could before they become pregnant. As part of their plan, they discussed their dream with their GP who also referred them to a HIV specialist. Tina had questions about whether the antiretroviral meds would have an impact on her fertility and found that for a healthy person with an undetectable viral load gives them the best chance of success.
After many long conversations, they eventually decided to use some reproductive assistance to help them navigate through the process to reduce the risks involved. After a couple of false starts, the good news arrived: they were pregnant.
Ask any new parent (or parent to be) what’s high on their list of priorities and they’ll mention protecting and providing for their partner and their new family. That’s where the peace of mind or having your own life insurance policy in place comes in – just in case – because we all have someone special to protect and provide for.
"Sometimes you feel overwhelmed with advice but these are the 4 key things for our family".
“If you’re already pregnant – Congratulations! Get your life insurance sorted. If you don’t do it today it can get lost under a pile of other things you have to do and slip your mind. For us, it was more about feeling and being responsible and the habits of good parents I suppose” – Tina and Garry
Jennifer enjoys learning about products and services in her own time, doing her own comparisons and research, and then preparing her list of hard-hitting questions, before talking to anyone about them.
Naomi is an experienced accident and emergency nurse with more than 5 years of experience working in the surgical wards and in and around potentially dangerous medical workspaces.
She is used to managing chaos and moody teenagers; she has two of her own she's hoping to put into private school next year for their senior years before they hopefully go to university.
'My name is Terry and I'm 37 and I married my childhood sweetheart. A few years ago we decided as a family that the only way we could get ahead and save a big deposit for a house, was for me to go work in the remote mines of Western Australia or Northern Queensland. The plan was to work hard for 5 or 6 years and use my high income to save a healthy deposit'.
George’s shift-work is often unpredictable, so living closer to work and cafes makes his life easier.
Lately, here's been thinking about the hard emotional decision, How much is enough?.
When it comes to being single in the LGBTQI+ community, there's really no such thing as average.
And it's your single life, so live it your way.
When it comes to being partnered in the LGBTQI+ community, there's really no such thing as average.
There's no right or wrong way to live a purposeful life, just what works for you both.
When it comes to parenting in the LGBTQI+ community, there's really no such thing as average.
However you're doing it, Love makes a family.