"Three Dads and a Baby" book makes a splash, and three other gay male triads in the news
From left: Ian, Alan, and Jeremy with baby Piper
By Faith Karimi, CNNMeet Ian Jenkins and his partners, Alan and Jeremy.They're a "throuple": a committed polyamorous relationship involving three people.And after a complicated and expensive court battle to all become legal parents, the trio are raising two toddlers in Southern California -- and proving how families come in all forms.They're part of a unique and very modern family that includes three dads, two surrogates and one egg donor. In a new book, "Three Dads and a Baby," Jenkins chronicles their search for potential egg donors and a surrogate, and a fight to change a medical and legal system geared toward heterosexual couples.The three men have all been together for more than eight years. Jenkins says they fought to get all three of their names listed on the birth certificates to protect their parental rights and the rights of their children. The process was emotionally grueling."But we are hopeful that other people benefit from the experience we had," he told CNN in a recent interview, "and that it's easier, less expensive and less stressful for them."Two men and no babyAs a gay teenager in Virginia, Jenkins says he faced death threats after coming out and couldn't imagine he'd ever be able to openly love another man. ...He met Alan while they were doing their medical residencies in Boston."He was smarter than the other students. It was obvious, even though he wasn't straining to show off his medical knowledge, like half of them were," Jenkins says.He was drawn to Alan's calm demeanor, witty comebacks and compassion for his patients. In the book, Jenkins recalls being touched by Alan's tender care of a frail old woman who had been hospitalized. He nicknamed her "my Golden Girl."Their first date was in 2003. Jenkins went to Alan's place with a baking stone, homemade pizza dough and wine, and made him dinner. The couple ... ended up in San Diego, where Jenkins is an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego and Alan works at a hospital as a psychiatrist.Three men and a baby
After almost a decade together, Jenkins introduced to Alan the idea of bringing a third man into their partnership. They met Jeremy online, and he joined them in 2012.Jeremy works in animal medicine at the San Diego Zoo, where his patients range from apes to California condors. To protect their privacy, Alan and Jeremy prefer not to use their last names...."With a third voice at the table, our conversations about parenting began to change. We just didn't have the ovaries."
They shared their predicament with one of Alan's childhood friends, a woman named Meghan who offered to be an egg donor. ... Another female friend agreed to be a surrogate, and they were ready to be dads. But the road to fatherhood involved more lawyers, paperwork and money than they'd ever imagined. ...
With egg donor Meghan
---------------------------At the hearing, the three men asked to be allowed to speak. Fighting back emotion, they explained why it was important for all three to be named as parents. They talked about automatic inheritance, ability to make decisions on medical consents, visitation rights should they split up.Their pleas worked."We could just see in her (the judge's) face that something had changed, that she wouldn't feel comfortable denying one of us parenthood," Jenkins says. "And we could tell right then that she was going to find some way to make it work out for us." ...---------------------------The trio are settling into their roles as parents. They now have a second child, a boy named Parker, who was born in 2019 -- the product of the same egg donor but a different surrogate. Parker's birth meant another set of legal contracts among the people involved. But with Parker, there was no legal battle to get the dads' names added to the birth certificate. The court took care of it without having them come in....Jenkins says they're forever indebted to the egg donor and the two surrogate mothers for their gift of two biological half siblings....Meghan lives in Tennessee and sees the children at least once a year. They call her "Mama Meghan."The children have different names for their fathers: Jenkins is Papa, Alan is Dada and Jeremy is Daddy.As Jenkins notes in his book, Piper seems proud of her unique family.She once told a preschool classmate: "You have two parents. I have three parents."The dads and their children share a bustling house with two Goldendoodles named Otis and Hazel. They benefit from three incomes and more people to share parenting responsibilities. But in other ways their family is just like any other, Jenkins says. He compares it to his growing up as a child of divorcees with three parents in the picture."Day to day in our home, everything is very ordinary," he says. "There's just people making dinner, going out to the hot tub with the kids, reading books, playing with toys. It's just these three parents instead of two or one. "While Jenkins is worried that their children may be treated differently because of their unique relationship, he says they haven't had any issues so far."We've had zero negative feedback from coworkers and friends. Everyone seems to just be delighted about the arrangement and that's because they know us," Jenkins says. ...If he were to send a message to his teenage self, Jenkins says, he'd tell himself that life gets better.
By Pam Kragen...As for how the relationship works, Jenkins writes that the throuple keys to harmony are honesty, constant communication and a complete lack of jealousy. Arguments are rare, but any vote of two against one is always final. The book itself was a three-way negotiation about what could be shared and what was kept private. The partners agreed that what happens in the bedroom is off-limits, but Jenkins wrote humorously that he, Alan and Jeremy almost never sleep in the same bed because it would be too crowded and hot with three men and two large goldendoodles fighting for a sliver of mattress.“Any relationship I was fated to have would be nontraditional,” Jenkins writes in the book on the merits of monogamy versus polyamory. “I picked a lifetime of nontraditional relationships before I picked a college. From one boyfriend to two, it’s just a question of human nature. ... Most of us expect to have a number of relationships over our lives. ... Why give up everything wonderful about one relationship to experience the joys of another?”...The benefit of three dads, Jenkins said, is that the children never lack for undivided attention and no parent is locked into performing the same tasks night after night. All three men share evenly in household chores, cooking and children’s bath and bed times. But each dad also has their own specialty. Jenkins’ personal favorite activity these days is teaching Piper to read.
Jeremy teaches reading to Piper, now 3.
...Jenkins said their legal case is now a topic of discussion at judges' conferences. Sharing the story of their precedent-setting legal victory with other nontraditional families was one of the main reasons he wanted to write the book. While their case can help other families in California, it can’t be used in other states, so more trailblazers will be needed nationwide....In recent weeks, Jenkins has been doing press interviews for the book. Feedback from the stories and podcasts has been “95 percent strongly positive and enthusiastic,” he said, although he’s received some criticism from an unexpected place. Some members of the LGBTQ community worry that Jenkins’ book will draw negative attention to gay parents who don’t want attention drawn to their families’ lives. ...
Left to right: Carlos, Edward and Hernán
By Edward Ribbons (as told to Jenny Haward)...I met Carlos and Hernán around that time, but I had no intention of a relationship. I just saw these two gorgeous South American men and definitely wanted to have fun with them. ... Hernan actually designs headpieces, like tiaras, and I remember he showed them to me that night and I waltzed around their apartment wearing them for a while; the three of us just really hit it off. We had a lot of fun chats, there were some more serious conversations that happened quite quickly.
...We'd been together around nine months when my parents and my brother came to Sydney to visit. I hadn't told my mom that I was seeing anybody, so I called and explained that I was actually seeing two guys and asked her to tell my dad. My parents are very open-minded, kind people but they had not met people in polyamorous relationships before. When they visited I could tell my mom was still a bit uncertain, but she and my dad really loved the boys; they get on so well. And my brother will FaceTime Carlos and Hernán as much as calls me. It's really nice. I knew I had strong feelings for them already, but around the time my family met them, I began to think that the relationship was something that had longevity and could be more serious.
The boys have been together for 12 years and I have been with them for about three years now and we describe ourselves as a throuple. I have a very different relationship with each of them; but neither is better or closer, they are just different. I would say Carlos and I have a calmer relationship. He's an engineer and he thinks very logically. Hernán's artistic. But it changes all the time. It doesn't feel unnatural to spend time with just one or the other, we don't do everything all together. I am a obstetrician and gynaecologist and can work unusual hours, so it's nice that the boys have each other to spend time with. There is a lot of depth and closeness to what we have. ...
...There are upsides and downsides to being part of a throuple. What has surprised me is that it can sometimes be difficult to make plans that make everybody happy. I'm definitely a social butterfly naturally, but if you asked Hernán what his dream was for our relationship, it would be for the three of us to spend a lot more time at home, watching Netflix and relaxing. I think we're all still working that out about each other. Also, with three of us, each person is only ever a third of the relationship, so you can't be selfish. There are two people there who will call you out if you're being unreasonable, which happens. It can be emotionally complicated sometimes but we love one another and I wouldn't say we argue much.
Edward Ribbons is an obstetrician and gynaecologist currently based in London. His boyfriends Carlos Briñez and José Hernán Ávila live in Sydney, Australia. You can follow them on Instagram @eddyribbo @avilaco1 and @carlos_1mba.
Que, Tye, and Martel
By Darian AaronThree is not a crowd for Que Brown, 28, Tye Brown, 26, and Martel Star, 27. The Tallahassee, FL and Mansfield, OH transplants are one of many Black gay polyamorous triads or “throuples” in Atlanta who are finding and creating healthy romantic partnerships outside of the traditional two-person monogamous relationship model. However, there is one distinction between their triad and others— these men are living and loving out loud, online and off, and are rejecting the stigma associated with polyamory that often pushes those within this relationship structure to the margins of society.
For Star, an entertainer and avid social media user, it was only natural that he’d be open about their relationship on Instagram since social media played such a pivotal role in connecting him to Que and Tye, who had already settled into their seven-year relationship as a couple after initially meeting in a Tallahassee nightclub. The pair were married in 2017. The Browns tell The Reckoning the discussion about adding a third partner happened early in their marriage.“About two years in it was something that both of us had a conversation about, and we were both really open to the whole idea, and it was something that we talked about for a while before we ever acted on it,” said Tye Brown. ...--------------------------------
...“People are fascinated because there’s an additional person,” said Star. “Communication is still important. Being mindful of the needs of your partners is still important. Being mindful of how we deal with our friends and finances, and how we move throughout the day, all of those things are the same as you would find with a monogamous couple,” he said.
From left: John, Geno, and Brandon
By Ryan LeachJohn Papagiannopoulos, 52, Brandon Bartee, 42, and Geno O’Quinn, 49, have identical tattoos on the inside of their left wrists. It is an image of three hearts, interconnected, each a different color—orange, green, and blue—to represent themselves, their relationship, and the life and love they share together....Bartee still recalls the moment when things took a more serious turn. “I had a 450-square-foot apartment that Geno would stay at, even though he had a townhouse. When John separated [with his ex], he asked if he could stay there more. One night, we were all watching a TV show on the sofa, all cuddled up, and I said, ‘This feels like home.’ That was six years ago on February 21.”“We were already in love with each other,” O’Quinn adds, “but I think when John’s relationship ended and Brandon was no longer with his ex, it kind of connected one day for all of us. We knew [our relationship] felt comfortable—that it was home.”...While the throuple cannot legally marry, the men wear wedding rings and refer to themselves as husbands—in the same way that committed male couples used the term in the days before same-sex marriage was legal. Through a combination of marriage and adoption, the three hope to one day become a “legal” family.“Our relationship is poly-faithful,” explains Bartee, “but the trouble we get into we do together, and we have rules: don’t lie, don’t cheat, be honest. And if you do something you’re not supposed to, be up front and ask forgiveness.”...“We all have our alone time, and we all have together time. You can’t get jealous because the other two are cuddled up and you’re not involved. You have to step back and appreciate the bond that they have, because the bond they have is the bond you have with each of them,” says Bartee.Like the three different heart colors in their tattoos, these men have personalities that are quite distinct. Fortunately, their unique characteristics complement each other. “John and I have the whole nerd factor in common, whereas Brandon and I have the spontaneity and craziness,” O’Quinn explains. “Brandon also helps bring that out of me and John.”The three men allow each other to be entirely themselves, and it shows through. ...“If there have been any objections, they haven’t let us know,” O’Quinn adds. “After I brought John and Brandon over to meet my mother, I told her that I wanted her to know that I am dating both of them. She said, ‘I have Facebook. I’m not stupid.’ That was it!”Bartee’s experience with his mother was especially affirming. “When my dad passed away, my mom called and said, ‘I have a question. How do you spell John and Geno’s last names, so I can put them in your father’s obituary? It’s the first time I have seen you happy and in a relationship that I know will last,’” he recalls.But no matter how other people view the poly-faithful trio’s relationship, these men know that the thing that centers them is love. O’Quinn puts it best: “I love them both equally, but in different ways and for different aspects.”
● P.S.: In other triad babies in the news, you may remember California's ChaCha, Jimmy, and Summer from their past publicity episodes. The women wanted to get pregnant at the same time — but now it turns out that nature has blessed ChaCha first. Polyamorous throuple's baby news after husband plans to get both wives pregnant, in the UK's tabloid Star (March 8) and elsewhere.
From left: Summer, Jimmy, ChaCha
Jimmy Silva, 33, ChaCha VaVoom, 31, and Summer Pelltier, 27, are expecting a little boy.On Instagram this weekend, the trio were excited to announce that ChaCha has fallen pregnant.They wrote: “SURPRISE!!!! We’ve had a long journey in the last 8-9 years and now our journey is going to include another person.”The throuple, who got “married” last February, plan to raise the baby together....After getting hitched and jetting off to honeymoon in Thailand, their 35,400 Instagram followers were waiting to see where the relationship would go next.So when the throuple announced ChaCha’s pregnancy, they garnered more than 8,300 likes. ...