Acton Institute Powerblog

Five Adults And A Baby: Is This A Family?

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Five adults (three men, two women) in the Netherlands are having a child together, and plan to raise said child together. I know this is a little tricky so let me explain. Jaco and Sjoerd (those are the guys) and Daantje and Dewi (the women) are all homosexual. They’ve known each other for 10 years. Then there is Sean, who is the third person in Jaco and Sjoerd’s relationship. They would marry him, but cannot legally.

The five folks want a child. So (and if you want to read exactly how they did it, you can, but for now let’s just leave it at this) Daantje is now carrying “their” baby.

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.

I have no idea how this is going to work. I’m sure the five of them have sat down and talked about different scenarios and how they’ll handle it: who will stay home from work when the little darling is sick, and who will take said darling to the dentist and such. But I have no idea how this is going to work.

I have no idea how this is going to work for the darling child. Is this kid really going to bond “equally” with three men and two women? Is the kid even going to know he/she is supposed to consider each of these people equally mom, mom, dad, dad, and dad?

The adults think so:

When I [reporter Noor Spanjer] ask if they’ve read about attachment psychology in young children, Sjoerd tells me that a friend of his is writing a doctorate on the subject: “She says the main thing is consistency in the family, and that is something we can offer.”

“The world of a baby gets bigger over time, but in the initial stages a baby can attach to about five people—so that works out perfectly for us,” says Dewi.

“So that works out perfectly for us.” Indeed. The adults have this all figured out, and it “works out perfectly for us.” The kid – well, whatever. It’s really the wants, desires and wishes of the adults that are important here.

Maybe these folks should have had a long talk with Oscar Robert Lopez before they decided that they would equally parent a child together. Lopez was raised by lesbian mothers, and he calls himself a survivor. Why?

It is abusive to tell a child, “We are your moms” or “we are your dads,” and then expect the child never to feel the loss of such important icons, in addition to the injury of having been severed from at least one, and possibly both, biological parents—not because it was necessary, but because the two adults insisted on the arrangement. The lessons children learn from this undermine selfhood: might makes right, little people are subject to the whims of self-serving parents, and powerful people can impose “love” on weaker beings with money or political influence over adoption agencies, family courts, sperm banks, and surrogate mothers.

None of these problems would arise if we lived in a world where gay people saw children not as a commodity for purchase but rather as an obligation requiring sacrifices (i.e., you give up your gay partner instead of making your kid give up a parent of the opposite sex, because you’re the adult.)

What we have here is a bunch of adults acting like children. They want a kid, so they get pregnant. There is no thought to what is best FOR THE CHILD. Instead, we have “so that works out perfectly FOR US.”

What we have here is five tall children getting ready to raise a child. What we have here is five emotionally-immature people who have refused adulthood, and opted for what “works out perfectly for us.” What we have here is a disastrous situation for a child. But the five adults are really only in it for themselves.

This is not a family; this is pre-arranged child abuse.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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