Family Issues

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

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



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.