Health

Single people are ditching love and raising kids with platonic friends

Summary List PlacementJay Guercio and her best friend, Krystle Purificato, spent much of their 10-year friendship commiserating over romantic relationships gone wrong. During the pandemic, they both realized that previous romances they pursued with men chipped away at their self-esteem and left them feeling jaded about marriage. When the duo's family friend jokingly referred to them as their "moms," Guercio and Purificato had an epiphany. "Krystle and I looked at each other and we were, like, 'Yup, that's what we want.' That made us feel comfort and gave this picture into what our future could be," Guercio, 23, told Insider. Last November, the...

Krystle Purificato and Jay Guercio stand on either side of their adopted son Eddy. Purificato and Guercio are best friends who decided to foster, adopt, and raise Eddy as platonic co-parents.

Summary List Placement

Jay Guercio and her best friend, Krystle Purificato, spent much of their 10-year friendship commiserating over romantic relationships gone wrong.

During the pandemic, they both realized that previous romances they pursued with men chipped away at their self-esteem and left them feeling jaded about marriage.

When the duo’s family friend jokingly referred to them as their “moms,” Guercio and Purificato had an epiphany.

“Krystle and I looked at each other and we were, like, ‘Yup, that’s what we want.’ That made us feel comfort and gave this picture into what our future could be,” Guercio, 23, told Insider.

Last November, the best friends wedded as platonic life partners, moved in together, and began fostering Eddy, a 15-year-old family friend of Guercio.

Though Guercio and Purificato aren’t romantically or sexually interested in each other, they say they’re the happiest they’ve ever been in a long-term relationship.

“People are, like, ‘Don’t you want romance?’ ‘Don’t you want sex?’ And I’m, like, ‘No, I don’t want those things. I want stability, partnership, teamwork, and communication.’ And that’s all the things that I have with Krystle,” Guercio said.

2 childhood best friends married after one got divorced

That’s how 33-year-old Andrew Cunningham felt when he married his childhood best friend, Kelly, and adopted her daughter, Lydia, whom she conceived during a previous marriage. Lydia is now 10.

Cunningham and Kelly, who asked us to omit her last name for privacy reasons, jokingly made a high-school pact to marry each other if they didn’t find romantic partners.

Two years after Kelly divorced, they felt their friendship was solid enough to make platonic marriage and parenting a reality.

Kelly has talked to Lydia about it a few times, “to gather her views, and she says that she is happier that her mom was going to marry me than another guy who will hurt her,” Cunningham told Insider.

“I have been part of Lydia’s life since a couple years after she was born, and she also loves the fact that I don’t ‘have sex to her mom in bed,’ as she puts it.”

A young man takes a selfie with his two parents standing behind him, smiling.

Some hopeful parents use online services to find platonic partners

Cunningham and Guercio both found their platonic co-parents organically. Some parents, eager to raise a child with a platonic partner but unsuccessful at meeting like-minded folks in person, are turning to apps.

Over the past decade, online platforms like PollenTree, Modamily, and Just A Baby have simplified the search for alternative family-rearing arrangements. Coupled with the rise of artificial-insemination interventions like IVF, these co-parenting services facilitate the ability to start a family on one’s own personal and financial terms.

In addition to birth-related costs, people who use sperm donors, IVF, and other insemination procedures could shell out anywhere between $12,000 and $17,000 to get pregnant, according to The New York Times. There’s also the issue of finding a trusted donor to offer up their sperm and, in some cases, help raise the child.

Sperm-donation platforms and Facebook groups have become an increasingly common answer to high costs, but come with a new set of risks.

Sperm donors may have donated multiple times and have numerous biological children already, for example, and don’t always disclose this to new recipients.

Services that facilitate co-parenting arrangements can be expensive

Modamily offers three service tiers for hopeful parents, according to Ivan Fatovic, the founder and CEO. Modamily’s concierge service, where Fatovic personally interviews and matches candidates on a customer’s behalf, is the most expensive service at upwards of $10,000 for four introductions to potential co-parents, surrogates, or egg or sperm donors.

Customers can also pay for a premium subscription of $30 a month or $119 a year.

Background checks aren’t included in the concierge or subscription service. Fatovic says he personally crosschecks potential matches’ identities using social media and a pre-interview for his concierge clients. If a customer wants to run a background check on a match themselves, Modamily suggests a service they can use on their own.

According to Fatovic, it’s impossible to complete a background check for every Modamily user. It’s just the sheer number of people signing up every day, Fatovic told Insider, adding, “You can create an email address in two minutes.”

Platonic co-parenting doesn’t always go as planned

Rachel Hope experienced the perils of online family building with her most recent child, born in July.

Previously, Hope birthed and raised two children with separate co-parents with whom she’d formed close friendships. For her third biological child, Hope told Insider she turned to online platforms designed to help users find co-parents and sperm donors, including Modamily, PollenTree, Coparents.com, and the now defunct Family By Design.

A woman stands to the left with her daughter in the middle and her co-parent, the father of her child, to the right.

Hope courted about 30 people from these platforms until 2014, when she met Frank. Hope asked Insider to use a pseudonym for Frank’s identity for fear of retribution.

Hope said she and Frank saw each other’s profiles on several services, including Modamily.

“I was trying to find somebody who would be happy to raise children with me, having another child of their own with me, and then adopt my little boy,” Hope said. In 2015, Hope and Frank conceived an embryo.

Hope was elated. She said Frank told her he was a doctor and that he had enough money to allow Hope to fulfill her longtime dream of being a stay-at-home mom. Frank talked openly about his history of substance abuse and how he kept himself accountable, Hope said.

“It created trust because he didn’t appear to be hiding anything,” she said.

Five months after using Frank’s sperm to become pregnant, Hope said she learned through a private investigator that Frank had drug and alcohol abuse problems and a criminal record that he downplayed throughout their budding relationship.

Hope said when she brought up what the investigator found, Frank served her legal documents. He alleged Hope wasn’t a stable parental figure and said he deserved full custody of their unborn child, she said. She hired a lawyer and got a restraining order.

Despite the hurdles, Hope’s still having their baby.

“I just can’t stop feeling like those frozen embryos are little frozen people in there. I can’t throw them away. I have to give them a chance at life and put my life in God’s hands,” Hope said.

In an email, Hope said it was a “mistake” she didn’t get an in-depth background check earlier on, and wished Fatovic suggested it.

Fatovic told Insider his company “has always recommended that people get to know each other, take their time, and develop a trust before they decide to have a baby and start a family,” and that he recommends every Modamily user “draft a co-parenting or known-donor agreement.”

Starting a family is hard work, no matter how you go about it

For Guercio, parenting a foster child with her best friend meant giving a young person the family they deserved while honoring her own needs.

She said getting pregnant herself “just seemed complicated to me, when I could be a foster parent to a kid who needed a home, who lost their parents like I lost my mom when I was young.”

No matter how it happens, building a family unit will always be a complex process filled with difficult and joyous moments.

Hope said she wishes she had considered more of these complexities before starting her own search for the perfect co-parent. Nonetheless, she said being surrounded with her children is her life’s goal.

“I can actually find the most bizarre form of gratitude that I was deceived, because I wouldn’t have her otherwise,” Hope said of her youngest child.

Guercio, Purificato, and Eddy now live in a three-bedroom house with Purificato’s mother. They hope to save enough money to buy a bigger home, where they can each have their own bedrooms and build a life and a family on their own terms.

“I would love to explain to the world that love comes in all different shapes and sizes and dynamics,” Guercio said. “I’m just really excited to share my story with the world — our story.”

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