Families don't look like they used to. Over the years, the traditional "nuclear" family has all but evaporated into a mushroom cloud. With the rise of fertility treatments, the family has seen all kinds of permutations and blends - from same sex to step and everything in between.
But the new family unit is bigger and more confusing than ever, but is that a good thing?
Sean, Jaco, Daantje, Dewi, and Sjoerd think so. The two women and three-man unit from the Netherlands are about to find out. The multiple-parent unit plans to raise a child together in two separate homes.
The logistics go something like this: Daantje will soon give birth following artificial insemination. Both homosexual couples are married, while Jaco and Sjoerd's relationship also involves a third partner, Sean.
It’s complicated, to be sure. But the party of five claims it will share equal rights and responsibilities, and even signed and notarized the terms of the agreement to make it binding.
Legally, a child can only have two parents. However, the biological mom can appoint a further legal parent. In this case, Jaco.
"We wanted to make sure that there was one legal parent in both households, because we're splitting the upbringing equally," explains Dewi. The idea being that someone in both homes holds legal rights over the child, particularly in case of travel.
"The laws weren't written for people like us, so we're constantly looking for ways to make things work for all five of us. Sometimes, that can make you a little opportunistic," said Sjoerd.
With so many viewpoints and voices involved, you would think basic parenting decisions would prove next to impossible. Yet the group insists it is more willing to compromise and negotiate parents who lock horns. Case in point: the family had no problem agreeing on the baby’s name. How many couples can say that?
If the multi-parent family looks strange, maybe that's due to its novelty. Besides, is it really so different than that of families rocked by divorce then forcibly united through remarriage? Those families also operate dual households, and many unfortunately do so with hostility.
The multi-parent version strikes me as a friendly democracy. In cases where it works, the dynamic could prove ideal. But if it goes wrong, it has the potential to go catastrophically wrong.
At least, as the group points out, when it comes to raising baby there will be fewer sleepless nights and more pay slips to go around. If you believe that it takes a village, their many hands will no doubt make lighter work of raising a baby.
And while we’re running with the clichés, the risk is that there will also be too many cooks in the kitchen - five parents, 11 grandparents, and no fewer than 21 aunts and uncles, to be exact. That’s one Christmas dinner I wouldn’t want to cook, one birthday party I’d rather not plan...
You tell me: is the multi-parent family the way of the future or a logistical nightmare?