Sunday's Boston Globe
published a great article by Drake Bennett titled "Johnny has two mommies – and four dads
," asking, "As complex families proliferate, the law considers: Can a child have more than two parents?"
Good question, and one I've written about
a few times before. In particular, Bennett looks at lesbian couples who want to include their sperm donor as a third legal parent—and in a few cases, have indeed been able to secure a "third-parent adoption." This is, of course, not the same situation as when sperm donors suddenly want parental rights in the face of a couple's opposition.
As two recent essay collections have shown, though, queer family structure today is many and varied. If you haven't already, check out And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families
(about which more here
) and Who's Your Daddy?: And Other Writings on Queer Parenting
(about which more here
.) Note that while both were originally published in Canada, And Baby
is now available in the U.S. and both are available through Amazon (Who's Your Daddy
through third-party stores).
Bennett, although he cites neither work, writes perceptively:
Whether or not multiple parentage gains wider legal and social acceptance, the fact that it’s being debated—and, in a few cases, allowed—suggests the flexibility that the concept of parenthood has taken on today, not only among scholars, but among adults doing the work of actually raising children in sometimes unorthodox situations. It’s part of a broader reexamination of what it means to have a family, a conversation that is itself only a chapter in a story that has unfolded over hundreds of years. . . .
Some of those changes remain deeply controversial, of course. And yet there are other aspects of the contemporary family that, while they would strike people of an earlier era as deeply unnatural, today go all but unremarked: the fact, for example, that it’s common for grandparents to live not with their children and grandchildren but instead hundreds of miles away. The family of the future may look similarly unfamiliar to us, and in ways we’re only beginning to discern.
It's a great piece, and well worth a read.
Could you, would you, do you parent with a third (or fourth) person?