"And Baby Makes Four"
Babble.com, "the magazine and community for a new generation of parents," features a heartwarming story from a tightly-bonded triad about having a baby together and raising her with two mommies and a daddy.
By Miriam Axel-Lute
"Why do some kids have three parents?"
A group of our friends were spending a weekend at a cabin in the mountains, and our hosts' not-quite-three-year-old was starting to do the math. Over the squalls of nap-resisting toddlers, her mom responded without missing a beat: "Because they're lucky."
Living in a committed multiple-adult household always takes some explaining. In a nutshell: My wife and I were college girlfriends and had a commitment ceremony more than ten years ago. Our husband joined our family in 2001, and we had a three-way wedding in 2005. We own a house and car together and are equal co-parents (or as equal as you can be when one person is breastfeeding) to our one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
It used to be that the most common questions we got when we explained our relationship involved jealousy (not a problem, but an understandable question) or sleeping arrangements (why this is so often the first thing people think of is beyond me).
But once I became pregnant, things changed. No matter how traditional the person or how new the idea was to them, we'd most often get a pause, a misty-eyed look, and then, "That sounds like a good idea. I could have used an extra parent."
I've definitely been known to describe our current set-up as having my cake and eating it too: I work from home, my husband works out-of-the-home, and my wife stays with my daughter. We get to have two incomes, neither of which would support the family on its own, and a stay-at-home parent. I get to do work I love and continue to breastfeed, without even pumping.
...There's no question in my family about who is a parent. All three of us went to every prenatal appointment. My wife cut the cord at the birth and is on the birth certificate as the witness. We took the same last name so as to share a family name with our children. We paid way too much money to a lawyer to draw up a co-parenting agreement so that our intentions are crystal clear, even though the state of New York would consider it an unenforceable contract. My daughter just learned to pronounce "Mommy" and "Mama" differently...
Like preschoolers everywhere who point out sets of big, medium, and small things as the daddy, the mommy, and the baby, the daughter of another three-parent family I know identifies three-parent groupings wherever she goes, finding mama, daddy, and papa in what look to our untrained eyes like the oddest places. In a nativity scene, for example, with Mary, one of the three kings, and the shepherd who happens to be standing nearest by....
Even when relationships do end, having an additional person intimately involved can be a real strength. When both biological parents of another former triad I know were having mental health issues and going through a painful breakup, their daughter was able to go live with her other dad a man who had never been related to her by blood or marriage, but who had been a part of her family since she was born and whom she knew as Dad....
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I learned about the article from AOL Newsbloggers, where a discussion of the article is growing rapidly. Go pile in!
While we're at it, here are three poly parenting sites:
• The Children of Poly section of the Polyamorous Percolations forums.
• LovingMorePolyparent, a Yahoo group.
• The Polyamorous Misanthrope's poly parenting columns, by Noel Figart. In particular, her column "But What About the Children?".
• Also: read advice on how not to have poly used against you effectively in child custody disputes (from the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund).
Update, December 2008: A huge poly parenting discussion thread has been running for the last six months at Mothering.Com, with 570 entries and 50,000 reader views.