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Getting Pregnant via the Internet

Photograph by Getty Images

That old wedding ring seems to get less important every day, at least when it comes to having kids. The New York Times reported Sunday on the latest trend in baby-making that has nothing to do with love and marriage: shared parenting arrangements. Here's how it works: A single woman hooks up with a single man but not for the purpose of having sex, or even romance. No, this is a completely platonic arrangement, but with the very serious aim of making a baby together. The woman gets pregnant via artificial insemination and then the non-couple couple shares parenting duties, at least to some degree.

What? Huh? Here is the kicker: There are websites for meeting that special parenting partner, with names like Modamily.com, Co-ParentMatch.com and, my favorite, PollenTree.com. Yes, it's just like the dating sites, only again, with a more direct and decidedly less amorous endgame in mind.

My whole parenting life is predicated on back-up. I cannot imagine having none.

Most of the couples the Times interviewed were single, straight women partnering with gay men (though, they did mention one married male candidate whose wife didn't want another child but who gave him permission to have one in this manner, outside the marriage ... ewwwww).

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One such straight gal/gay guy couple was Dawn Pieke, 43, of Omaha, Neb., and Fabian Blue, originally of Melbourne, Australia. Blue moved to Nebraska after he met Pieke on a Facebook page for Co-parents.net in 2011, and he agreed to have a child with her. The Times described the progression of their relationship this way:

They first met in person on Thanksgiving 2011. "I felt like this guy was my relative or long-lost brother, but then again he was also a stranger," Ms. Pieke said. They continued the dialogue: reading each other's medical charts, undergoing fertility tests. He moved into a separate bedroom in her home, and, she said, four weeks later, "He handed me a semen sample, we hugged, and I went into my bedroom and inseminated myself."

It's definitely an odd arrangement for this married mom to contemplate, but I have to say I think it's preferable to raising a child on your own. I've long marveled at the single women I know who, rather than let the clock run out on their fertility, had babies alone via artificial insemination. My whole parenting life is predicated on backup. I cannot imagine having none. Sure, this would be a tricky kind of arrangement, but less trickier—if it all goes right—than managing every burp, bottle and sleepless night by yourself. Of course if things did go south, they could do so in a spectacular way. Yikes.

What do you think? Is this a positive development? Or just the latest example of our shaky social structure crumbling a bit more?

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