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Co-parenthood: How Spaniards are having babies with people they don’t know

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Co-parenthood: How Spaniards are having babies with people they don’t know
For those who want Co-paternidad to help them find their future parenting companion, there is a long screening process. Photo: Pexels/Pixabay.

In Barcelona in October, the first baby conceived under an innovative new concept of 'co-parenthood' was born thanks to the help of an agency trying to bypass traditional models of parenting.


An innovative new concept of 'co-parenthood' is developing in Spain, breaking through traditional understandings of what parenthood is and allowing would be parents to co-parent with people they aren't romantically involved with or, in many cases, even know.

Though, of course, these sorts of non-traditional arrangements have existed informally for a long time, a clinic in Barcelona is going about making it a professional service. In October, the first baby girl born to co-parents put together by the Co-paternidad agency was born.

This service, still in its first few years, helps people to find a prospective partner and have a child without the need for any romantic bond between them. In most cases, the co-parents meet through the agency.

Co-paternindad was started by anthropologist Carmen Balaguer in 2021 and the community has been growing ever since, starting first in Barcelona, later extending to Madrid, and now provides its services at the national level: "There are about 200 people that we have helped and continue to help," Balaguer told 20 Minutos.

READ ALSO: The strange things Spanish parents do raising their children

"In October the first woman in Spain who has participated in our agency" gave birth "to a girl," she explained, adding that there are already four more pregnancies on the way, with the second due to be born in February.

"Co-parenthood encompasses people who want to be parents and due to different circumstances they are not within the traditional model," she explains, adding that co-parenting could be a solution for people who share the desire to become parents not out of love, but out of the common goal of starting a family.

Similar to the way in which old marriage agencies work, these organisations essentially match individuals with compatible profiles who are also interested in co-parenting, but without any romantic interest. Interestingly, so far the agency has attracted more men than women in search of co-parenthood so far. "It's not 50-50," Balaguer says, but "the truth is that at the moment, there are more men than women."


How does it work?

Arranging a co-parenting relationship is not a speedy process. First the personal connection must be found and made, before the legal process begins to agree on all aspects of parenting.

Some co-parenting couples come to the agency as friends, after they have already decided to be parents together, but the most popular method is people who decide to go through a selection process that helps them find their future co-parenting companion.

READ ALSO: More babies born to unmarried parents than ever in Spain

For those who come to the agency with a friend or someone already in mind, Co-paternidad can provide legal and logistical help to make their dream a reality.

Prospective co-parents are helped throughout the process by parenting advisors and experts, psychologists, and lawyers, and though doing it with a friend may seem like the easiest way to do things, it is not always the most ideal if the arrangements are not managed properly.

But for those coming to the agency alone, Co-paternidad not only advises on legal issues but arranges the search for a potential partner. "When they come in search of a bond, first of all we check that they are suitable and qualified people for the upbringing of a child, and later, if everything is in order, we create a profile for them," Balaguer says.


For those who want Co-paternidad to help them find their future parenting companion, there is a long screening process. "After several meetings, we make a filter to find their most compatible person [based on] closeness, ideals, thoughts... Once at that point, we organise a 'date' and provide them with a series of points to discuss so that they can get to know each other better," Balaguer says.

Crucially, and unlike the idea of dating apps, once a suitable prospective partner is found the initial meeting is organised without either having previously seen a photo of the other. "We want the other person to be unprejudiced in this process, so that they get to know each other beyond physical appearance" Balaguer says.

Fortunately, most people end up finding the right person in their first meeting. If both parties accept, the process moves on, and if not, the agency keeps looking until they meet those people who are more compatible with each other. "We propose someone to you, but if it's not this one, it will have to be another. One girl met her most compatible person after nine guys," Balaguer adds.

Then, as you might've expected for two people who want to become parents without the romantic commitments, artificial insemination is used to create a pregnancy and the co-parenting journey begins.


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