The Rise of the Three-Parent Family
September 30, 2020 2:30 PM   Subscribe

"Today, Jay is part of a three-parent family in northern California. He lives with a married couple, Avary Kent and Zeke Hausfather, and is not part of their marriage, but is a father to their biological daughter, Octavia, or Tavi, whose full name includes all three of their last names." A profile of the three-parent family of David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.
posted by switcheroo (8 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
That was really interesting.

I didn't realize that three-parent adoption has become legally recognized in so many states.

It always makes me very happy to hear about people who have found a way to shape their lives the way they want them to be, so I enjoyed reading everyone's stories. I was especially interested in Katherine; it's always good to read about people who acknowledge and embrace their changing sense of themselves. Many people are drawn to facets of self that are pretty permanent (homosexual, asexual, polyamorous, whatever), but many find those facets more changeable, and it makes me glad to learn about people who are able to embrace that fluidity in themselves.

Thanks so much for posting this, switcheroo!
posted by kristi at 3:10 PM on September 30, 2020 [9 favorites]

More than a decade ago, Jay wrote his senior thesis on the question of what differentiates sexual relationships from nonsexual ones—besides, obviously, the sex—and why we treat them so differently. His conclusion, then and now, centers around permanence, or at least the expectation of it. “When a relationship becomes sexual and it becomes romantic, it’s not only that those things generate emotion, which they do,” he told me. “It’s that suddenly this relationship could be defining your entire future in a way that a friendship doesn’t have the same implied potential to be defining your future.”

This really resonated with me. A few years back an old friend asked me to be a godmother to her son, and I found myself unexpectedly moved when I realized "this isn't just about me being there for the kid, this is her saying that she wants me to be in HER life for at least the next 18 years." We don't have many other ways to make that kind of explicit commitment to our friends.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2020 [30 favorites]

This is pretty great. If biological culpability for a child isn’t the determining factor of responsibility for their well being, why artificially limit the number of people willing to take on that responsibility to two? Many hands make light work, and that seems like an easy social and societal win.

We’re gonna need to rebuild some databases though! Thems the breaks, as they say.
posted by mhoye at 3:20 PM on September 30, 2020 [4 favorites]

Thanks for posting! I'm trying to cultivate something like this for my own theoretical future family, so it's nice to see it represented in such a high-profile outlet. It feels radical today, but honestly, a trend in this direction seems inevitable. Who can afford to raise kids / buy a house / face the slow death of the planet with just four hands and two incomes anymore, know what I mean?
posted by The Minotaur at 5:39 PM on September 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

I feel like this sort of thing is an attempt to correct for the unnatural isolation imposed upon US families by rising tendencies towards isolation and individualism, the decline of local community, and the transformation of child-rearing from a collective enterprise (on the local level) as it is/was in many "traditional" (floabw) societies to one exclusively governed by the nuclear family.

In other words, we've known that it takes a village to raise a child since forever, and the modern nuclear family is really an aberration.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2020 [9 favorites]

I'm part of a three-parent family, being one of the parents. We're waiting until Cap'n Bean is old enough to point to each of us as being their parents before going in for third-parent adoption.
posted by XtinaS at 8:28 AM on October 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Thanks for posting. I know David, and this comports completely with him. He's a wonderful human and this is wonderful.

So happy to see this get more exposure. Love is love and family is what we make it.
posted by Freen at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm a parent in a three-parent family. Here in the UK there's no legal recognition for third parents, and we have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get even a modicum of acceptance. But having three parents is hugely helpful in raising children, in a "parenting on easy mode" kind of way. When the first COVID lockdown meant that we had to keep the kids out of school/nursery for a couple of months we were privileged to be able to split the daytime childcare three ways, rather than e.g. two (or one!) and still get some work done.
posted by avapoet at 3:51 AM on October 13, 2020

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