California Permits Children To Have More Than Two Legal Parents

Governor Jerry Brown of California just signed a law permitting children to legally have more than two parents. The rationale for the law is that ”Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them…It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.”

Of course, the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in California may also have something to do with the bill, which has conservative groups up in arms, claiming that it will harm children (I’m unclear on how that would work, but okay). Blended heterosexual families, too, will benefit from this law.

There are also implications for polyamorous families, wherein multiple adults might inhabit the same household or at least share childcare responsibilities. There is a growing body of research on parenting in polyamorous relationships, and Elizabeth Sheff is among the researchers concluding that poly parenting does no real harm to children. Her impression upon interviewing children with poly parents was that they were “articulate, thoughtful, intelligent, and secure in their relationships with their parents.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this law plays out and which demographics take advantage of it the most. Understandably, not all poly parents might be “out” to the court or to the public, but hopefully well-intentioned parents of all types (and their children) will benefit from the law.

About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.