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Three gay dads in a relationship with one another have opened up about their family life and path to parenthood. The men made history in 2017 when they became the first ‘throuple’ to all be listed as fathers on their child’s birth certificate in California.
One of the men has now written a memoir about their experiences. They’re engaging in numerous media interviews to promote the book and raise awareness about same-sex parenting.
The author of Three Men And A Baby is Ian Jenkins, a San Diego-based doctor and university professor.
He has been with his partner, Alan Mayfield, for the past 17 years. They opened up their relationship to include a third man, Jeremy Allen-Hodges, eight years ago.
The men have two kids: Daughter Piper, who is three, and son Parker, who is 18 months. Both were born using donated eggs and surrogates.
All three men were listed on Piper’s birth certificate after a California Court ruled them able to do so. Because of this intervention, all three are also listed on Parker’s birth certificate, and other poly families can also do the same – in California, at least.
To their kids, Alan is known as Dada, Ian is Papa and Jeremy is Daddy.
All three men appeared yesterday on The Morning Show in Australia to talk about becoming parents.
Gay ‘throuple’ who created legal history after being allowed to name three dads on their children’s birth certificates speak out about their unique family 👨🏻👨🏻👨🏻👶🏻👶🏻 pic.twitter.com/1rDF0p2Fi3
— The Morning Show (@morningshowon7) February 17, 2021
Although surrogacy can come with challenges for any would-be parent, the issue of Piper’s birth certificate was more tricky for the men to negotiate.
“With surrogacy, you have to have a parentage order from the court declaring who are going to be the legal parents,” said Alan.
“In the beginning, we weren’t sure that we could have all three of us on the birth certificate so it became a court process where we argued in court.
“It was a pretty interesting, tense courtroom scene where at first it seemed like we were not going to be granted that, and we asked to speak in court and plead our viewpoint, and the judge ultimately changed her mind and granted us legal parentage of our child before she was born.”
Ian told HuffPost: “We all gave very tearful testimonies about why we needed to become parents. You could see the emotion on the judge’s face. She looked at all the options in front of her and found a way to use existing laws to give us the first birth certificate of its kind anywhere.”
Part of the reason they felt strongly about all being listed as parents – besides being the reality of the situation – was because of the potential benefits for their child.
“We all have jobs, we all have pensions with our jobs and health insurance and those kinds of things, and if you’re not listed as your child’s legal parents, then they’re not able to receive those benefits,” Jeremy told Good Morning.
On his decision to write a book, Ian said, “We wanted everyone to know that love makes a family, and families may look different, but if you care about your kids and you’re doing everything you can to give them the best possible childhood, that’s what matters.
“We wanted people who are in non-traditional families to know that there could be more legal protections available to them and help keep this process moving so that more parents would have the kind of protection we’re enjoying.”
Ian has little time for critics who say his family is not “normal”. He recently told LGBTQSD News: “I’m pretty sure it’s lifelong monogamy that’s weird.
“Our culture is filled with all of these stories about longing and infidelity. It’s natural for us to feel affections for more than one person. What’s exotic is that we actually did it — we made a life many people think of as an unattainable dream, but we’re ordinary people otherwise. We have the same conversations about what to have for dinner, what to watch on TV.”
He added, “Many parents long for another partner — more love, more help with the kids — we just went out and made it happen!”
In a recent interview with Echo Mag, Ian talked more about his and Alan’s decision to open up their relationship. They said it came about after around “four years” of discussions, and led to some trial-and-error dating experiences.
“I think the real issue was kind of figuring out what kind of person (we) would be comfortable with and when we first started talking about this, I think he was more comfortable with the idea of someone who couldn’t really compete as a mate.
“(Alan) felt better with the idea of someone that we didn’t really think was going to be a long-term partner, and it turns out that the people who are probably not likely long-term partners are also just not a good fit for us.”
He said they dated a few men but didn’t “click” with any, until he met 6’5” zookeeper, Jeremy. At first, Jeremy was not interested in dating a couple, but as the three men became firm friends and began spending more and more time together, a relationship together seemed to develop naturally: one that all three were comfortable with.
“We’re pretty tame and ordinary people,” said Ian. “The house is very much like every other house that’s raising two kids as best as they possibly can with the right values and making them feel nourished and wanted to set them up for success. It’s just that there’s three dads instead of two, or a mom and a dad.”
Three Dads And A Baby will be published in March.