Dutch government studying possibility of three or more parents

Michael Cook
23 Feb 2013
Reproduced with Permission

The Dutch justice ministry is investigating the possibility of allowing children to grow up with three or more legal parents. According to Green member of parliament Liesbeth van Tongeren, there are already between 20,000 and 25,000 children living in patchwork families. "We need to broaden the concept [of what is a family], no longer can you see parenting as a purely biological link or say that a child can only have two parents," Van Tongeren told AFP.

The Dutch parliament debated the proposal last October. Seeing that it raised a number of problems, the government decided to commission a report. It is not clear when or if legislation will be introduced.

AFP and Suddeutsche Zeitung both found children who had four parents. When 25-year-old Susanne Supheert was 11, her father announced that he was gay and found a male partner. Her mother remarried a man. So she has three fathers and one mother and loves all of them. Three-year-old Joaquin and 6-year-old Simon have a more novel arrangement. Their parents are a lesbian couple and gay couple who flatted together at university. Rather than looking for anonymous sperm donors, the women commissioned the men, although it is not clear who is the father of each of the children. "That's unimportant, what matters is that we're all four of us their parents and that we love them," said one of the mothers.

Ms Van Tongeren says on her blog that multiple legal parents would help to defuse disputes when sperm donors and various significant others are involved in parenting. "Legal parenthood does not need necessarily to coincide with the biological parenthood," she says.