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After 23 years of motherhood, and at the age of 42, I’m searching for a dad for my next child, minus the romantic Prince Charming part. More than “Mr. Right DNA” or a sperm donor, I’m seeking a fully involved platonic parenting partner. With the help of Modamily.com—a modern family matchmaking Web site—I have several very promising candidates. Now something very exciting is about to happen: I’m going to be on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. This will possibly put me in touch with other potential dads. But the appearance is about more than me and my dreams.
Diane Sawyer is seen by millions of viewers every single night. Here’s my chance to tell all these people about the possibilities for designing a family and creating a parenting partnership. I’ll be able to share what I’ve learned from raising two kids with parenting partners, and I’ll have practical information for viewers who are ready to have kids.
When I’m asked to describe my key requirements for a suitable parenting partner, first and foremost we should be true peers. We should have a relationship that’s “evenly yoked,” as the Bible puts it. The partnership should center on making and keeping commitments to nurture a new baby all the way to adulthood. No ambivalence, please! Ideally, we both have wanted to be parents for a long time. We are physically, mentally and emotionally in balance. We are financially secure and ready to share the responsibilities of providing for our children. Many people have different preferences, but I believe that genetic diversity strengthens DNA, and I find racially mixed children to be beautiful. Logistics are also important. My family has roots in Los Angeles, so this should be our main hub. Possibly, the most important compatibility should include a positive connection with my 4-year-old daughter and her father, who lives on the same property with us.
Wait, there’s more! After reading thousands of profiles on five different Web sites and corresponding with hundreds of men, I’ve personally met with at least 25 potential dads. These included, for example, older heterosexual couples who haven’t had kids and wanted me to co-parent with them. I’ve also met with several heterosexual men in their early 30s who had started new businesses and were doing well, but their commitment to work made them unsuited for conventional marriage. While continuing to build their careers, they were looking for a parenting partner to support the domestic side of raising a family, without the obligations and risks of marriage. Other heterosexual men recognized they were romantically inclined toward women with whom they didn’t necessarily want to have kids. So they sought co-parenting with a different kind of woman.
After years of successful parenting in two outstanding partnerships, and with two well-adjusted and thriving kids, I can’t justify changing something that is working so well.
I also met many gay single men and gay couples who had considered adoption or a surrogate. But they didn’t want to raise a child in the absence of a mom. I was touched by these men’s recognition of the loving bond between kids and their mothers that can’t be replaced, not even by two dads.
Another category of potential dads where men whom I had dated that said, “How about you stop this silly searching and just pick me. If you’re such an innovator, do something different from 23 years of co-parenting and marry me.” Indeed, the prospect of a "normal" marriage and family has been seductive and I still struggle with its lure, especially when I’m around many couples who are happy and in love. But while many women might eagerly accept the proposals I’ve had for conventional relationships, partnered parenting is my Plan A. After years of successful parenting in two outstanding partnerships, and with two well-adjusted and thriving kids, I can’t justify changing something that is working so well.
I explained some of this to my son Jesse when he was 7 years old. “Even before you were born, I loved and wanted you so much that I picked the best dad I could find for you. We were friends and family at the same time. That’s how we raised you, and I’m so happy we did!” Jesse, would often tell us, “No one thinks we’re weird. My friends all want to be over here at our house because you guys are so nice to each other. Almost everyone’s parents are breaking up, but you guys never will.”
Each of my kids has a dad who’s decades older than me, and both Glenn and Paul feel fulfilled with just one child. Neither one wants to divide his time, energy and resources with another child. I admire their consideration and honesty. They are both very supportive. Like big brothers, Glenn and Paul are helping me get to know our new parenting candidates. Their love and understanding gave me the courage to go on ABC World News.
Doctors sometimes refer to my “advanced maternal age,” but luckily they have a cure for this! The In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Paul and I used to have Grace (now age 4) has made an evolutionary leap. According to Southern California Reproductive Center (SCRC), it’s now possible for time-lapse videos to monitor development of embryos as they grow in the lab, revealing which embryos are developing normally. Chromosome analysis from a cell biopsy can also be performed with zero disruption to the embryo. With the benefit of these advances at SCRC, the rate of healthy live birth using embryos from a woman my age is identical to that of a woman in her mid-20s. I almost cried when I heard this at SCRC’s most recent presentation. This gives me the confidence to know that my dream of having more healthy children will come true!
We would-be parents live in a time of exciting and innovative possibilities for creating modern families. Diane Sawyer and ABC World News are right on track with this relevant and useful story, and I am honored to be part of it.