Vice.com 4 August 2015
The idea of a “nuclear family”—white picket fence, a kid or two, friendly golden retriever—has been under siege for a while now. No longer do stories of step-parents or half-siblings shock us, and children being raised by parents of the same gender (so-called “pink families”) are becoming increasingly common. Another new, lesser known family structure that has emerged is that of multi-parenting—or raising a child with more than two legal parents. For instance, a lesbian couple and a gay couple bringing up a child together as a single family, but in separate households.
That’s more or less the family unit that two couples—Jaco and Sjoerd, and Daantje and Dewi—have decided upon. The four have known each other for ten years, and have been considering the possibility of having a child together for about six. That possibility is going to become a reality this week, when Daantje gives birth.
Both couples are married, but Jaco and Sjoerd’s relationship also involves a third person: an Australian named Sean who’s been their partner for the last three years. “Three and a half,” Sean shouts from the kitchen when he hears me asking Sjoerd how long they have been together. Sean is such a big part of their relationship that he will play an equal role in raising the gang’s future son.
“Jaco and I have been married for eight years now. Unfortunately we can’t marry Sean as well, otherwise we’d have done it in a heartbeat,” says Sjoerd.
“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.
The laws surrounding parental rights have improved significantly for gay parents in the Netherlands over the past few years, but the issue of multi-parenthood is still a complicated one. In the case of this particular five-parent family, Jaco has taken on the role of legal parent number two—replacing Dewi, who initially held the position because of her marriage to Daantje.
“We wanted to make sure that there was one legal parent in both households, because we’re splitting the upbringing equally,” explains Dewi.
The rise of multi-parenting: These five people are about to have a baby together
Stuff co.nz 6 August 2015