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Unusual Family Structure

It's unusual to have a three-parent family. In the past when I've thought about this I've focused on things inside the family. However since Zoe's birth I've been examining how our family interacts with the outside—doctors, friends, the government, etc. As I was starting to write this entry I was thinking about the problems we have run into and are likely to run into. However as I began to plan what I wanted to say I realized that things have worked out much better than I expected and that I'm incredibly happy. We keep running into cases where people just accept us as who we claim to be. Many friends writing back messages of congratulations after Zoe was born made it clear that they were happy for all of this. On one hand, it doesn't take much to be inclusive in a note of congratulations. On the other hand even in several cases where I don't think the people involved were familiar with what has been going on with my family, it was clear they were quite sincere. I really appreciate it when people just accept what's going on. We've received similarly good responses from Zoe's doctor. He was a bit confused who everyone was when we all showed up, he asked, and he has been happy to treat us as a family of three parents and was very supportive when he needed to give us a referral to a specialist. The hospital staff were also supportive.

Unfortunately we've run into a number of situations where laws and policies get in the way. You can only list two parents on a birth certificate. In terms of having legal guardians, a kid can only have two parents. None of this is surprising. However it is still painful to have to pick someone as the odd person out. It also means that we'll have to have significant complexity going forward to make sure that if a question arises about who can take Zoe out of school or who can get medical care for her, we have the necessary legal instruments in place.

We had a particularly painful situation at the hospital. The mother and one other person are allowed to check the baby out of the nursery or be with her while they were doing tests and examinations. They would not allow both Kevin and I to be with Zoe. I understand how this policy developed and that there is significant concern about making sure babies are not taken by unauthorized parties.

So far, I at least have not run into anyone other than my parents who has been particularly judgmental about our family. My parents are coming along nicely though; my mom likes to be a grandmother. I'm sure that I know people who are confused or disapprove. However there seem to be fewer than I expected and many who do disapprove seem willing to let me live my own life.

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Comments

Rock ON!

Yay for more love in the world!!!
Actually, 3-parent families are common, but usually you only get a set of one or two of them at a time (Mom, Dad, Stepmom or Dad, Mom, Stepdad). Sometimes you get four (Mom, Stepdad, Dad, Stepmom) or more (several stepparents if parents are married multiple times after the kid is born).

And it seems logical that the "odd one out" should be the non-biological parent, though one wonders what the rights are in the aforementioned cases (with stepparents). And when the genetic engineering gets good enough so there can be more than two biological parents for a given child, things will get interesting...

In any case, of *course* we are happy for you and accept your lifestyle! Hey, live and let live. I wouldn't want to share my man with another woman, but you're more generous than I :)
Thanks for the link. That was, in fact, what I was thinking of. But I think it'll be a while before it's an "approved" procedure that actually results in real live children.
Your posts about Zoe and her three parents are making me feel really hopeful about my future as someone who's poly and who wants very much to raise children. Thank you!
I have sometimes found that people working in medical institutions who aren't MDs are frustratingly beaurocratic, but typically will do anything an MD asks them to, and MDs often are quite good at applying common sense. Which leaves me curious whether you discussed with an MD this particular problem about how many people could be the responsible adult taking care of Zoe.

I also would not be at all surprised if these policies vary from one hospital to another, and it may be worth trying to find a hospital that is able to understand your family structure.
You guys are pioneers, and the law is inherently conservative, so I wouldn't hold my breath on that score. But you live in a community where tolerance* an important value to most people, so overall you should be fine. Personally, I've just been enjoying seeing you so happy.
* Tolerance is a crappy word; it implies disapproval. I'm using it as a shorthand here for a cluster of attitudes perhaps better expressed by "live and let live," "to each their own," and "what you do in your private life is none of my business."