A two-year-old boy in Ontario, Canada, may soon have three legal parents. His mother’s lesbian partner is petitioning for legal recognition as his second mother. The boy’s father, described as “a good friend of the couple,” supports the two women in their quest. According to one newspaper, “Rather than replacing a parent, which adoption does, the family is seeking to ‘add a parent.’”
Grace Kerr, a lawyer for the mother’s partner, has stated, “We’ve got a loving circle of family, and they have done everything society could hope for in terms of providing for the child and would just like legal recognition. They are saying that, in their family, there is room for three parents.”
The case has not received much attention yet from the media, but it should. If Family Court Judge David Aston rules in favor of the petition—and he has said that he “can’t imagine a stronger case”—the implications for families everywhere are staggering.
After stressing that this case is about just one group of people trying to establish themselves as a family, Kerr then changed her tune. “The declaration of motherhood,” she said, “which we are seeking could set a precedent that would expand the number of people who will be able to seek relief as a mom or dad under the law.” In other words, she is recognizing that you can’t change the legal status of one family without affecting all others.
Over the past few years, we have seen the devastating effects on families—and on society in general—when a parent is subtracted from a child’s life. So what happens if we go beyond divorce and decide that a parent is someone who can be added to a family at will? Throwing one more parent into the mix certainly does not mean more love and attention for the child. As writer Stanley Kurtz points out in National Review Online, it could have just the opposite effect: “Once parental responsibilities are parceled out to more than two people,” he writes, “. . . it becomes that much easier for any one parent to shirk his or her responsibilities.” To alter the parental role in this way cheapens the parent-child bond.
Kurtz might have added that when the relationships among adults are so ill-defined and lacking in commitment, they too become easier to break, further destabilizing the children’s world and undermining their trust and confidence.
Adding parents by court order is altogether different from extended families, by the way—that is, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the like, who, of course, can be healthy because it’s a natural arrangement that adds stability for parents.
Research shows that children of divorce have a harder time building lasting families of their own when they reach adulthood. Imagine what would happen to children raised in a group situation like this, where “parents” can be added—and probably subtracted—at will.
No family is perfect, and I know that single moms and dads today do an heroic job. But the family built on a commitment of a man and a woman to each other and to their own biological or adopted children is still the soundest and most stable model. The weaknesses inherent in the counterfeits only demonstrate the strengths of the original, designed by the Creator to provide the healthiest environment for parents and children alike. When it comes to raising children, “the more the merrier” just doesn’t apply.