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Monday, June 19, 2017
Modern family: More courts allowing 3 parents of 1 child
NEW YORK — Sixteen-year-old Madison's family clustered for a photo in a California courtroom, commemorating the day it finally became official that she has three parents.
The adults she calls Mom, Dad and Mama were all there for her birth, after the women decided to have a child together and approached a male friend. They shared time with Madison and input on raising her. Their Christmas Day traditions involve all of them.
But legally, Victoria Bianchi became her daughter's parent only this fall, joining a small but growing number of Americans who have persuaded courts and legislatures to give legal recognition to what's sometimes called "tri-parenting."
"I just felt like I've been holding my breath for the last 16 years," Bianchi said. "She's already been my daughter ... she's finally, legally mine."
Bianchi made use of a 2013 California law declaring that a child can have more than two parents. A similar law took effect in Maine last year. Courts in at least 10 other states, including New York just this winter, have designated third parents in recent years, even as some courts and experts have raised qualms that more parents means more potential conflict.
American courts have for decades granted some rights to grandparents, stepparents and others in children's lives, but parents have uniquely broad rights and responsibilities.
Advocates say acknowledging a third parent — whether on a birth certificate, by adoption, or in a custody or child support ruling — reflects the modern realities of some families: gay couples who set out to have a child with a friend of the opposite gender, men seeking to retain paternal roles after DNA shows someone else is a biological father, and other situations. READ MORE