The three recent polyamory stories on Canada's CBC
That lovely TV profile of a polyfamily in Calgary, Canada, came shortly after three serious treatments of polyamory on CBC, Canada's national broadcasting service. Was it inspired by them?
Only in the first one below did I learn about Ontario's All Families Are Equal Act, passed in 2016. Its key part relevant to polyfamilies is this:
References assuming two parents
(4) If, under this Part, a child has more than two parents, a reference in any Act or regulation to the parents of the child that is not intended to exclude a parent shall, unless a contrary intention appears, be read as a reference to all of the child’s parents, even if the terminology used assumes that a child would have no more than two parents.
● Accordingly, Matthew Pearson, a member of the out-and-proud FF and MM queer couples below, told their story of group parenting on CBC Radio's "The Sunday Edition": The Mamas and the Papas: How two Ottawa couples became co-parents (Jan. 27, 2019). He also wrote the article that appears with the audio on the show's website:
The Ontario law passed in 2016 gave equal rights to same-sex parents and multi-parent families. That's us.
The four co-parents in August 2016, when Karin was pregnant with Zora, their first child. Matthew is at left. (Matthew Pearson/CBC)
By Matthew Pearson
In the fall of 2016, I sat in the visitor's gallery at Queen's Park and witnessed the introduction of the All Families Are Equal Act.
The bill was enacted to enshrine in law the basic premise that all parents in Ontario deserve equal rights, regardless of the route they took to become a parent.
...The new law also cleared a path for multi-parent families, allowing up to four parents to be listed on a child's birth certificate. It was a game-changer for families like mine, which is comprised of four people — two queer couples — who joined forces with the intention of raising children together.
I always wanted to be a dad, but I was focused on finding a partner first. Didn't I need to be with someone before I — or we — could decide to even have children?
That changed when my friend Karin, who, like me, was single, in her late 30s and identified as queer, asked me if I'd consider having a child with her.
...We started spending more time together, and we talked about the kind of things you talk about with someone you might spend your life with — values, beliefs, despair, dreams. We peeked into every corner of each other's life in an attempt to answer a singular question: Could I raise a child with this person?
As the answer became clear, something rather unexpected happened — we fell in love — with other people.
Karin met Janette at a mutual friend's wedding and I later met Alain through mutual friends. By a stroke of magic — and some serious heart-to-heart talks with these new partners — they both decided to take the plunge and join Karin and me on our co-parenting adventure.
The four of us spent hours talking about how the arrangement would work. We drafted and signed a parenting agreement — a contract outlining our expectations, responsibilities and values. It established how we would split our time with our child, including holidays, and how we would make decisions about the child's health and education. It also included a process for resolving conflicts.
...There was no roadmap for this kind of family, so we created our own. ...
Negotiating with one other person is likely hard enough, but we have four people. Four opinions, perspectives and desires, which sometimes vary. Four sets of arms wanting to hold and cuddle one little baby.
We had to learn to communicate clearly, to compromise, and to trust that we were in this together. We were family now.
...One of the upsides of co-parenting with three other people is the downtime — something all parents of young children could probably use more of.
On Family Day in 2018, the five visited the
National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
...A few months after Zora was born, her birth certificate arrived in the mail. It listed all four of us as her parents.
Light as that piece of paper was, it was heavy with meaning. It was an affirmation that our family existed; that some space had been made somewhere in Canada for families that looked like ours.
Karin will soon give birth to our family's second child, which will thrust all of us back into the bleary world of parenting a newborn.
Meanwhile, Alain and I just bought a house a stone's throw from Karin and Janette's, which will soon free us from cross-town commutes.
In the beginning, we were two — Karin and me. Then we were four with Janette and Alain. Zora's birth made us five. And soon we'll be six. Two moms, two dads, two children.
You can stream the 25-minute show with the "Listen" button on the original article. Or download the mp3 file (January 27, 2019).
● A couple weeks later, CBC Radio's "The Conversation" — one of Canada's most-listened-to radio shows — aired a 9-minute interview with a couple who opened their marriage by the conventional route: How this polyamorous couple makes their marriage work (Feb. 5):
'Just because it doesn't look or sound 'normal,' doesn't mean that it can't be wildly beautiful'
That's partly because they co-host Turn Me On, a podcast they describe as "a no-holds-barred conversation about what it is to be a sexual being in the world."
...MacLean has a long-term boyfriend. Saunders has a long-term girlfriend and casually dates other people.
"Together the four of us have a very platonic and supportive relationship," said Saunders.
...Here are some of things that have helped keep their marriage on track.
Put it on paper
Bryde MacLean: "[Before opening up our marriage] we wrote up a contract [which is on our website] in as much detail as we could about all the potential concerns we had. Don't talk about our problems with other people, don't criticize each other with other people, have lots of respect and no sleep-overs... We pretty much reviewed and edited that, almost every day, if not once a week, for the least the first six months to a year. It really helped us define what we were doing as we went."
Bryde MacLean: "I remember the first time Jeremie told me that he was in love with somebody else. That was really, really challenging. After a couple of weeks of them hanging out a lot, I had to ask him, to ask them both, if they could take it a little slower, if they could limit the number of days per week … Neither one of them wanted to do that, because you're in the the energy of a new relationship and it's exciting … But they did and it was really respectful. It's really important to be trustworthy."
Jeremie Saunders: "It was always an experience that we were doing together, not separately, even though we are separately seeing other people, we're doing this as a team." ...
Why is this "conventional"? Because what they describe is mostly about the couple's rules they made between themselves, with no apparent regard for their other potential partners. Who will turn out to be real people too. Such arrangements can work if these others like being so secondary. Some people do; some are fine with the assumption that they're just friends-with-benefits to the core couple (meaning the third is disposable). Such "deliberate secondaries" may like the freedom from entanglement that this status implies (or should).
But the secondary better be savvy enough to see what the setup is right away — and lay their own needs and boundaries on the table at the outset, while it's still easy to walk away. And put those on paper too.
● A few days later, more modern and healthy approaches (IMO) were described on CBC News in Saskatchewan: 'A different way of doing things': Polyamory challenges idea that monogamy is always the way to go (Feb. 11). This is good, informative one; put it in your "show the parents" collection.
When Kayleigh Kazakoff started seriously dating, she held out hope of finding that one perfect partner, but she found that no one could live up to her expectations.
Then, eight years ago, the 33-year-old from Saskatoon was introduced to polyamory. She said it has made her a better partner in every way.
"I'm way less terrible to date. I would expect (my partner) to be my be-all-end-all. That's not fair pressure to put on anyone," Kazakoff said. "I'm a lot more relaxed now and able to accept my partners for who they are and acknowledge their flaws. I just feel a lot more fulfilled."
Kayleigh Kazakoff identifies as solo poly.
(Naomi Zurevinski)...Polyamorous relationships can take various forms, including a triad or quad, which is where three or four people are all in a relationship with each other. Triads and quads can be open or closed, meaning they are either exclusive or individuals can have offshoot relationships from there.
...At one point, [Kazakoff] was dating five people. She currently has two partners, one of whom lives in Winnipeg and she's been seeing for five years; the other she has been dating for under a year and is close by.
..."Initially I could do polyamory or monogamy and I was fine with either. As I continued exploring it and (learning) about myself, I discovered it's more who I am than a choice I make."
[We asked 4 ethically non-monogamous daters what their terms are]
...Jacq Brasseur, the executive director for UR [University of Regina] Pride Centre, said the idea that jealousy does not exist in polyamorous relationships is one of several misconceptions out there.
Jacq Brasseur, executive director
for the UR Pride Centre
(CBC News/Alex Soloducha)
"In reality, scheduling isn't going to be easy; holidays aren't going to be easy. I think the other myth has to do with not committing to your partner, and that somehow this is the easy way out," Brasseur said.
"To be successful and to build a loving, supportive partnership in a polyamorous setting involves so much work and I don't think people understand that."
...Brasseur notes that [compersion] is not quite the opposite of jealousy.
"Compersion can be excitement, or it could be a desire to hear about your partner's other relationships — for example, if you want to hear about a first date they had, because first dates are exciting."
Brasseur added that "as we become less judgemental and more willing to understand that different ways of doing things are OK, I think more people will be open about their polyamory."
'You learn to look deep into yourself with what makes you feel comfortable and stable in a relationship, and through that you become more comfortable with yourself, too,' says Lindsay Rose of polyamory. (Naomi Zurevinski)
Lindsay Rose is polyamorous and currently has two committed partners. One of her partners is long-term, and she has been dating her other partner for a few months.
Her long-term partner initially introduced her to polyamory, and Rose immediately became interested because of difficulty she'd had in past relationships.
"I've always kind of been a serial dater and very codependent in my relationships," said Rose, who hails from Saskatoon. "I think it was coming from a place of needing someone else to show me how to love myself. Then I found out it was possible for more than one person to love me, and for me to love more than one person, and I wanted to further explore that."
She said that one of the major misconceptions about her relationship approach is what polyamory is actually all about.
"I'm sure some people assume that those who are poly have 12 different partners and are always looking to add more, but it's about having the option to develop more than one meaningful relationship," said Rose.
"It's not necessarily about seeking, but more so about having the freedom to explore things as they come up. If a human comes into my life that I enjoy, I'll pursue that relationship."