Van Jones has welcomed a daughter with a longtime friend—making the CNN commentator just one of many people exploring platonic co-parenting in order to build their families.
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Van Jones
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Gone are the days when parenting needs to follow "traditional" notions of partnerships between the heteronormative idea of man and woman or husband and wife. People in varying types of relationships, situations, and identities want children and are exploring different methods to achieve this. For folks who want to build their families, surrogacy, adoption, and even platonic co-parenting are options. Platonic co-parenting, according to Insider, is the method of raising children with platonic partners, who one may or may not have been romantically involved with.

Over the weekend, CNN Commentator Van Jones welcomed his third child, a daughter, with long term friend Noemi Zamacona. Jones is already a father to two boys with his ex-wife Jana Carter who he was married to for 14 years.

Platonic co-parenting—sometimes known as conscious co-parenting or elective co-parenting—is an unorthodox arrangement that is becoming increasingly popular in both LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ communities as people are looking for alternative ways to have families and raise children.

Such was the case for Jones. "This month we welcomed to Earth a baby girl, whom we will raise as co-parenting partners. This is a special time for our families. I feel grateful, joyful and blessed," he told TMZ.

Similarly, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and his best friend and ex Benjamin Maisani announced last week that they welcomed a boy named Sebastian Luke together.

Jones' and Cooper's recent decisions to co-parent their children with non-romantic partners has shed light on the popular notion of platonic co-parenting. Raising a child can put a strain on romantic relationships and marriages; others simply don't have or don't want to be romantically involved with another individual in order to have a child. So, how exactly does this modern set-up work?

How Does Platonic Co-parenting Work?

The first step is to find a platonic partner or a co-parent. This requires a candid conversation with friends, colleagues, or family members on each person's respective needs and desire to have a baby. If it is not possible to connect with a platonic partner in your immediate network, then there are many individuals who turn to the Internet. In fact, according to the Guardian, two popular UK- based sites (Coparents.co.uk and PollenTree.com) have reported 30-50 percent increased membership during lockdown.

Choosing the right platonic partner is essential to a successful co-parenting strategy. Two parties need to define the roles and responsibilities each will undertake once the child is born, establish what core values and parenting styles they want to implement, as well as ensure they are on the same page when it comes to making decisions in the best interest of the child. Trust is key.

What Considerations Need To Be Made Before Conscious Co-Parenting?

Regardless of whether the platonic partner is a friend or a stranger, some lawyers recommend formalizing the arrangement by a contract or co-parenting agreement. Modamily, a dating and co-parenting platform created in 2011, even offers a template which stipulates how to deal with things like dating, education, diet and nutrition, living arrangements and even custody in the event of a separation between the parties. Legally, law is evolving to accommodate these relationships. In fact, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill in 2013 that allows children to have more than two legal parents. Similarly, California, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Washington and Connecticut have followed suit.

Once the partner is chosen, there are different ways to become pregnant, including penis in vagina intercourse, surrogacy, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and adoption. The process of conceiving with a platonic partner is personal and unique to each partnership and it's important to discuss with medical providers when necessary.

Platonic Parenting Is Still Parenting

Once the child is born, similar to any couple (married or not) who has a newborn, co-parenting will take time to settle in.

Despite critics who believe that children will miss out on witnessing romantic love between parents, or not be part of the mainstream concept of family, Jones and Cooper have set examples for ways in which families can evolve and be ultimately recognized and accepted by society.

"After the COVID lockdown, I got clear that I wanted another kid. I discovered that my friend Noemi also wanted a baby. So we decided to join forces and become conscious co-parents. It's a concept that I hope more people will explore and consider," said Jones.