Family Issues

A Baby with Five Parents? It's No Big Deal

Such families are already recognized in some U.S. States

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Multiparent
gaydadsaustralia

Over at Vice there is a story about the impending birth of a child in the Netherlands who will be cared for by five parents. Basically, the child will be born into a blended family consisting of a legally married lesbian couple and a legally married gay male couple, who also share their lives with a third guy. The biological parents are one of the women and one of the guys (anonymous), but all five want to share responsibilty for the child's upbringing.

As Vice reports:

"Five parents with equal rights and responsibilities, divided across two households—those are the terms of the agreement that we all signed and had notarized," says Dewi. They had to do this because, legally speaking, the Netherlands isn't quite ready for multi-parenthood just yet. A child can still only have a maximum of two legal parents and, in a marriage, those parents are usually the biological mother and her husband or wife. However, the biological mother is also allowed to appoint someone else as the second legal parent.

So the birth mother is designating one of the gay guys as the second legal parent. This sounds all very novel and socially advanced, but as it happens several U.S. states already have set up procedures to legally recognize multi-parent families. For example, California passed such a law in 2013. As the Los Angels Times reported:

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he authored the measure to address the changes in family structure in California, including situations in which same-sex couples have a child with an opposite-sex biological parent.

Other U.S. jurisdictions that recognize multi-parent family arrangements include Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

In any case, mazel tov to the happy pentad in Holland.

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  1. I’d be curious to check back in 20 years or so to see how messed up this kid is.

    1. Well, he’ll be Scandinavian so we know he’ll enjoy the world’s greatest cradle-to-grave social programs and also stands a good chance to be terribly miserable.

      1. cs: The Netherlands is not part of Scandinavia. Just saying.

        1. FML, nailed me. I don’t know why I read Scandinavia.

          1. Please remind the Vice President that these people are from the Netherlands and not the nether regions.

            1. George: What is Holland?
              Jerry: What do you mean what is Holland? It’s a country next to Belgium.
              George: No, that’s the Netherlands.
              Jerry: Holland IS the Netherlands!
              George: Well, then who are the Dutch??

              1. I just watched that one last night! I have watched each of the episodes literally at least 25 times and I still freaking laugh out loud!!

                1. Yep. I can recite the lines to most episodes as if I were reading from a script and yet they still make me laugh.

        2. It will be. Or are you a climate denier?

          1. Is it going to start floating?

    2. He/She will most likely wind up sitting in a window in downtown Amsterdam.

      1. That’s my dream job — after Drifter.

        1. Lousy cops, always running you out of town.

    3. I think having too many parents may be better than too few.

    4. If he is messed up I’ll bet he probably won’t be any more so than messed up kids from two-parent or one-parent families.

    5. Reason writers may as well start now working on their editorials about how the kid would have been messed-up in any case, and how it doesn’t reflect badly on Bob, Carol, Ted, Alice and Doug.

      1. What do queers know about raising kids anyone, huh?

        1. Yes, that’s a concise and accurate summary of what I said.

          /sarc

  2. who also share their lives with a third guy

    It’s tough being the fifth wheel.

      1. *copyright infringement*

    1. Yeah, I want to hear more about how the 3rd guy fits in this.

      1. At least once, apparently.

  3. Halle-fucking-lujah!
    Social justice, at last. Now I can die a happy man.

  4. So who the not gay guy? Jack, Larry or Mr. Furley?

    1. I’m guessing it’s the ‘third’.

      I.e. lesbian couple and gay male couple both want a child which both couples have parental rights over. But neither couple wants to complicate their exclusive marriages by sleeping with the man/woman in the other couple on a regular basis. A surrogate mother is a lot harder to find than a guy willing to impregnate a woman. So the gay male couple brings in a bisexual man from outside to sleep with the lesbian woman and knock her up. That’s the whole purpose of bringing in third in, and I’m guessing that he only has parental rights because he’s the biological father, but that there was some prior agreement that the gay male couple would be considered ‘fathers’ as well.

      1. I’ve read this three times and I’m utterly lost.

      2. No. Everyone in the situation is gay – all three men and both women. In fact, none of the men had sex with the pregnant women. They just supplied her with a jar of semen.

        Biologically, there are only two parents. That reality may seem insignificant right now, but, eventually, it may be very important to one party or another including the child.

  5. This sounds all very novel and socially advanced

    It does?

  6. So, it’s Dutch law and I assume, also, that the contract is pretty detailed but wondering how this would play out if one of the five became discontented with things and sought legal recourse. Would the agreement hold up as a contract and be treated as such?

  7. So, what is the half-life of a five person relationship before it flies apart into a more stable configuration? Also, what kind of five way recriminatons can be expected when it does?

    “This sounds all very novel and socially advanced…”

    This sounds like intellectual base stealing, a novel development is not necessarily an advancement.

    1. What if five people ends up being some weird island of stability?

      1. What if the third man is the peace keeper, go between? That might be a recipe for the most stable relationship eva.

        1. I suspect the third man is the biological father who was brought in specifically so that one of the women could get pregnant without fucking up the harmonious (and non-sexual) relationship between the two couples.

      2. Humans have been around for a while now, I think we can look at the record to see if fives are islands of stability.

    2. It’s not a polyamorous marriage. It’s two married couples co-habiting. With a third male , whom I’m betting is the biological father.

      1. It’s not a polyamorous marriage. It’s two married couples co-habiting.

        As someone who was on the polyamorous marriage bandwagon well before the gay marriage bandwagon I’m inclined to ask you to either prove it and/or clearly delineate what the fucking difference is.

        1. Polyamorous means everyone fucks everyone else, or at least is linked in to one big networking of fucking relationships.

          In this case, there seem to be two sexually exclusive couples. A legally married gay male couple, and a legally married gay female couple. There are no sexual relationships linking them.

    3. “So, what is the half-life of a five person relationship before it flies apart into a more stable configuration?”

      Likely longer than that of a Dyad (2 person relationship) relationship, especially since they maintain 2 separate households.

      Everyone likes to claim plural relationships are unstable compared to Dyads, what they always conveniently forget is all those dating relationships they had that lasted a few weeks to a few months and exclude them from the comparison group and compare all plural relationships to the restricted group of Dyads that have already managed to last well more than a year or resulted in a marriage.

  8. In the United States, today’s child is already raised by his parents, his teachers, crusading social workers, any police officers he encounters, nosy neighbors and, of course, the internet. Only the last lacks rights to him.

    1. It takes a pentad to raise a child!

  9. Ron: Thanks for the teaser title – I was expecting a genetics piece.

    My mother was a test-tube, my father was a knife…

      1. Papa was a rodeo, Mama was a rock ‘n’ roll band…

      2. Nice – thanks to A-prime, looking forward to the weekend read!

  10. It’s just about government recognition.

    It’s like legalizing marijuana or gay marriage. People are going to smoke marijuana and form gay relationships with or without government recognition.

    There’s probably very little that they’re doing that they wouldn’t be doing without government recognition.

    Chances are that one or two “parents” would make the decisions about healthcare. Chances are that one or two parents would interact with the teachers and the school. They can write up their wills as they wish to leave their possessions when they die to whom they please.

    Making a big deal out of government recognition makes the government seem more important than it is. The drug war is a big deal because the government throws so many people in prison and ruins so many lives and wastes so much money–so the recognition of the right to consume cannabis is a big deal.

    If the government didn’t recognize these parents’ rights, would it make any difference?

    1. Parent rights are a little different because if the biological mother wants to, she can tell the other four to go screw. At least if you have a contract you can argue that you have a claim to parental rights.

      1. In this case I’m not sure who would be willing to go screw whom, though….

  11. Who wouldn’t want to spend 20 to 30 years of their lives taking care of five elderly parents by themselves?

    1. Barring some genetic defect that prevents the kid from living past 15 (not out of the question), doesn’t the Netherlands have a massive social welfare program to do that?

      1. Also shouldn’t the parents be responsible for their own end of life needs?

        1. Also shouldn’t the parents be responsible for their own end of life needs?

          Sure, but the kids should help out if possible.

        2. Shit happens. They run out of money, lose their faculties and can’t take care of themselves or each other. Have you had elderly/dying parents?

          1. my dad retires next year, but they are set because they planned for retirement. If they need help, I’ll help them but they shouldn’t depend on that. I could die tomorrow.

            1. Also, I’m not having kids so I have to plan for my future, I’m not banking on anyone else to do it.

            2. I sincerely wish you and your parents long happy lives and retirements. 🙂 Having been through the extended illness and death of both in-laws and the advanced aging of my own though, I promise you, you can’t plan for everything. But good luck to you.

            3. it’s not about the planning or being set, it’s the inevitable physical deterioration that usually comes with advancing years. My folks were set financially, but neither cancer nor dementia gave a shit. That’s where we came in.

              1. I’m not trying to be a dick here, but that’s what assisted living facilities and live in help is for. I will help my parents, but if it wasn’t for me they would have to depend on 2 drug addicted moochers.

                1. Not all end of life needs can be supplied by strangers you pay. Believe it or not, your parents will probably want to have people they love near them as they face the absolute fucking terror of death. If you live in another state, that will mean frequent trips, or an extended leave of absence from work, maybe several. People look like they’re going to die, then look like they’re fine, then they die. The emotional and financial toll of looking after dying parents is so much more than paying for a nursing home. We never even had to do that with my wife’s parents.

      2. Probably true with this example.

      3. Not if the king has anything to say about it:

        “The shift to a ‘participation society’ is especially visible in social security and long-term care,” the king said, reading out to lawmakers a speech written for him by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

        “The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form.”

        http://www.independent.co.uk/n…..22421.html

      4. Barring some genetic defect that prevents the kid from living past 15 (not out of the question), doesn’t the Netherlands have a massive social welfare program to do that?

        That is one way to put it.

        http://www.patientsrightscounc…..ackground/

  12. Sure, why not?

    I feel the same about this as I do polygamy. 1. it’s none of my business and 2. not many people will do it and maybe it works well for some people.

    1. I feel the same about this as I do polygamy.

      I would too except for irritating “two gay women + 3 gay men =/= polyamorous marriage” bullshit.

      Gay marriage (re)defined marriage as distinctly not being about reproductive sex. But here we are dissecting the shit out of reproduction and sex and stumbling over ourselves to make sure everyone knows that special exceptions are being made for lesbians and gay men, *not* polyamorous marriage(s).

  13. If these idiots are dumb enough to put themselves on the hook for child support to a child they have no biological connection to or really any connection to beyond the person they happen to be shaking up with, I wish them luck for that.

    I like this idea a lot actually. I think it should be applied in the rest of family law. So for example, if one married gay guy slips up and goes to the other team and gets a woman pregnant, I am totally down with considering his partner to also be responsible for supporting the baby. They are married aren’t they? And under the doctrine of constructive fatherhood being married to someone who has a child makes you the father of that child.

    More importantly, any lesbian couple who has a child through insemination should be legally declared parents of that child. As it is, the lesbian who didn’t have the child can walk away with no obligation at any time. That needs to stop. If they create the child as a couple, they should both be on the hook to support that child just like any married straight couple who gets a sperm donor.

    Rigorously and strictly applied child support laws to gay couples and poly groups is an area where the law needs to keep up with what is happening on the ground. No one in a married relationship should be able to walk away from supporting a child just because they are not the biological parent of that child.

    1. Huh? If a wife cheats on her husband and gets pregnant, are you “totally down” with making the husband pay for that kid?

      1. No. But the law is. I am just down with making sure gays don’t get out of that rule.

    2. “If these idiots are dumb enough to put themselves on the hook for child support to a child they have no biological connection to or really any connection to beyond the person they happen to be shaking up with, I wish them luck for that.”

      I’m sorry but I find this rather insulting.

      As a Man who has voluntarily raised 2 children he was not biologically related to and treated them no different from my own offspring I rather resent the implication that I am “dumb” because my capacity to love and care for a child extends beyond my genetics

      In fact I would argue that any man who refused to date or marry a woman solely because he did not want to become responsible for providing for her offspring is the one with the problem.

      “Rigorously and strictly applied child support laws to gay couples and poly groups is an area where the law needs to keep up with what is happening on the ground. No one in a married relationship should be able to walk away from supporting a child just because they are not the biological parent of that child.”

      Now this I agree with.

      If you form a parental bond with a child you should not be able to just sever it just because your romantic engagement ended. You should both become responsible for that childs wellbeing AND gain and retain some level of parental rights.

      1. It was meant to be insulting. And I don’t mean it as an insult to someone like you. I mean it as an insult to people who think raising a kid in some group home commune is a good idea or is any kind of a stable and lasting arrangement. Two people can barely manage to stay together for the long term. Four people? Forget it.

  14. I wonder if anybody will follow up with the kid in 20 years and ask what he thinks of it. Curious to see longitudinal studies of children from such families.

    1. I believe that is number 5,000 in the list of “studies that will never be conducted for fear they might give results that don’t fit the narrative”. There is already anecdotal evidence showing that growing up the child of a gay couple isn’t so great. That of course is hardly conclusive. Yet, it is not taken seriously or being subjected to further study. Instead, it is being dismissed because “gays are special and it just can’t be true”.

      The answer is of course that no one knows how this will work. It might end very badly for the kids involved. It very well may turn out that this is a terrible idea in most cases. Yet, Ron and others are totally down with these people gambling with someone else’ welfare without their consent.

      1. Do you ever think maybe it’s not a question that needs to be answered? Gay couples will exist regardless, and ours isn’t the sort of society that should be engineering which partnerships get to have children and which should be denied the pleasure, as if it’s a privilege handed out by the government. A bit like marriage licenses, you might say.

        Which, admittedly, is an easy tact to take right up until progressives start insisting that gay couples are in fact more betterer for children than those stodgy old conservative straight couples.

        1. Do you ever think maybe it’s not a question that needs to be answered?

          In the case of adoptions and foster care it often is something handed out by the government. If the gay couple wants to create their own kids, then your point is valid. If however, they want to adopt, then it is absolutely a question that needs to be answered. We generally give married couples priority in adoptions over single people. We do that because we know the results for kids growing up in a two parent home is so much better. So if it is the case that things don’t turn out as well for kids with gay parents, then gays need to go to the back of the line when it comes to adoptions.

          Even with children gays choose to create themselves, it is still a question that needs to be answered because gay couples should have access to all the information and make informed decisions. Moreover, if it is true, maybe there are things that gay couples could do to improve the results. We will never know what those are if we are unwilling to even see if there is an issue.

          1. Because social engineers in government bureaucracies are suddenly reliable decision makers with regard to children? And children should be stuck in foster care because untried parents have the wrong gender configuration, at least until we can get some long-term data?

            1. No. If the choice is nothing or a gay couple, then fine. But if it is the case that children don’t do as well with gay couples as they do with straight ones, then gays should not get to adopt if a straight couple is available.

        2. our society already engineers who gets kids. Ever heard of how ridiculous the adoption process is? And that’s for straight couples, who often wind up going to China or some other far-off place. Gay couples, meanwhile, seem to be more willing to accept children with various problems, from crack babies or HIV infection to whatever else. In the long run, I’m on the side of anyone who is willing to make a kid’s life better.

          1. Me too wareagle. I don’t think it is anti gay to say that perhaps a kid growing up with parents of the same sex might face challenges that a kid with regular parents doesn’t. That doesn’t mean those challenges are insurmountable. I would think if gay parents gave a shit about their kids they would want to understand what those challenges are and try and figure out ways to mitigate them.

            1. I don’t see it as anti-gay, either; more like pro-reality. A smart gay couple will have considered what the child is likely to encounter. If not, that kid is being done a gross disservice.

            2. What challenges? Evidence for greater challenges for kids of gay parents?

              Since straight people are capable of popping kids out by accident, if anything the challenges could be greater for those kids.

        3. ours isn’t the sort of society that should be engineering which partnerships get to have children and which should be denied the pleasure,

          If you don’t want society engineering such partnerships, then nature will do the engineering.

          You are allowed to disagree with nature’s engineering, but you’re delusional if you think our society isn’t engineering which partnerships get to have children and which should be denied the pleasure.

          1. It is, yes, and shouldn’t be. And we shouldn’t favor policies aimed at exacerbating that tendency. The state and private organizations charged with caring for children have a responsibility to vet prospective adoptive parents, but not beyond ferreting out abusive or negligent or incapable applicants. Looking twenty years down the road at possible outcomes based on statistical metrics? That’s nuts.

        4. CS,

          Nothing to do with the couple’s gayness. It’s about the kid. Lots of people are shitty parents. We shouldn’t just assume that a house full of parents won’t be shitty because The Overlords of Acceptable Opinion have decreed it so. I do not give two shits about parents’s secual orientation or living arrangements as long as they take good care of the child. These people haven’t DONE anything yet. They’re just being different, and I’m not gonna bark and clap like a goddamn seal because DIVERSITY or whatever.

  15. Haven’t single mothers been recognizing multiple fathers for a long time? You know, to multiply the support payments?

    1. Why yes, yes they have. And they have also just named random fathers to the welfare department as well.

    2. the declaration of fatherhood should come at birth. If you cannot name the daddy, no benefits for you. And there are tests to confirm if the person named as the father actually is or not.

      1. Unless the woman is married, I don’t think she should be able to claim support from the father. She choose to have sex and knew the risks and also chose not to take a morning after pill. Why should the father be on the hook for that?

        1. Why? Because in this regard, society is fucked up. And this is where the “it’s the woman’s body” wants it – and gets it – both ways. If the guy wants the kid but the woman does not, not much he can do. But if the situation is reversed, then the man is a horrible person and the state will go after him for support.

      2. And there are tests to confirm if the person named as the father actually is or not.

        So, what happens in the completely foreseeable situation where a gay man is found to be the father or the man determined to be the father, suddenly self-identifies in a physio-socially incompatible fashion?

  16. What are the implications on the Treasury?

    An enterprising senior could become “join” one of these families and become the kid’s “parent.”

    The kid files to collect Social Security and kicks back a percentage to the senior.

    Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

    1. Good point. Orphans get their parents social security.

      1. For the time being.

  17. Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

    The shittiest of shitholes. California and Illinois will soon follow.

  18. It takes a village.

    Or The Village.

  19. Ultimately, it’s none of my business, but I doubt this will end well, particularly for the child.

    1. Kids are more resilient that most people will admit. The child will do fine, as long as he isn’t spoiled rotten.

  20. legally married lesbian couple and a legally married gay male couple, who also share their lives with a third guy.

    So the lesbian mother didn’t need to use a turkey baster?

  21. Aldous Huxley and Robert Rimmer would be so proud… Even Mark Twain, who thought it sport to ask mormon children how many mothers they had back in the day, would doubtless be pleasantly amused at human progress.

  22. Has John asploded yet?

    1. Tony, I suppose I should be flattered by your strange obsession and sexual attraction to me but it is really just creepy.

  23. John,

    Logging in late to thank you for getting my point. I think what bothers me about this is that, for all of the smiley feel-good voluntariness of such an arrangement, the person most inarguably affected by it cannot consent. Everyone just assumes it’s gonna be hunky-dory.

    I personally do not care if a child is raised in a household with three dads, four moms, Uncle Capybara, and their pet, Snooki- as long as the household provides love, structure, food, shelter, and a nurturing environment for the child. I am just a bit cynical that such an arrangement will do that. We won’t know if we don’t follow up, and I doubt there will be follow-up.

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