The gay throuple shares their reproductive journey and legal battle to become fathers in the upcoming book, 'Three Dads and a Baby.'
Dr. Ian Jenkins and his partners, Jeremy Hodges and Dr. Alan Mayfield, redefined traditional parenting norms in 2017 when they broke new legal ground in California to become the first family in the state to list three dads on a birth certificate. Their daughter Piper, now 3, was the first child ever to have a polyamorous family listed on a birth certificate, paving the way for her younger brother Parker — who came two years later — and future children of other polyamorous families. The gay throuple is now preparing to share their "sometimes hilarious, sometimes tearful" reproductive journey and legal battle to become fathers to Piper through Dr. Jenkins' upcoming book, Three Dads and a Baby, which hits bookstores next week.
While some would consider their family rather unconventional, Dr. Jenkins questions this perspective. "I'm pretty sure it's lifelong monogamy that's weird," he told LGBTQ San Diego County News. "Our culture is filled with all of these stories about longing and infidelity. It's natural for us to feel affection for more than one person. What's exotic is that we actually did it — we made a life many people think of as an unattainable dream, but we're ordinary people otherwise. We have the same conversations about what to have for dinner, what to watch on TV."
"After all, many parents long for another partner — more love, more help with the kids — we just went out and made it happen," Dr. Jenkins added. According to New York Post, he shares this perspective in his book as well where he points out that it really isn't a "big deal" that their kids have three parents. "The fact that Piper has three parents is just not a big deal. I have three parents myself — my mother, father, and stepmother — and no one thinks anything of it. Some people seem to think it's about a ton of sex or something, or we're unstable and must do crazy things. [But] it's really remarkably ordinary and domestic in our house and definitely not 'Tiger King,'" he writes in the book, referring to wild gay throuple featured in the buzzy Netflix docuseries.
Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Mayfield — a psychiatrist whom he met while completing their medical residencies in Boston — had been together for eight years when Hodges, who works at a zoo hospital, came into the picture. What began as a friendship soon blossomed into a lasting romantic relationship between the three. The trio started discussing parenthood after five years of being a throuple and soon found friends who were willing to donate embryos. Three Dads and a Baby takes readers through their whirlwind of a surrogacy journey and the legal hoopla to ensure that all three of them would have equal parental rights.
"Gay couples don't stumble into parenthood by accident. It's always a deliberate act, and a complicated one," Dr. Jenkins writes in the book. They had to overcome several hurdles along the way, including one of the embryos not being viable and another not implanting properly. Since the embryos needed to be adopted for Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Mayfield, and Hodges to have equal parental rights, each failed attempt meant that the legal process had to start all over. "We had to have contracts between each man and each woman. Then, when another cycle got planned, we realized the contracts had to be redone. Of course, redoing them means $500 an hour in fees," Dr. Jenkins writes of the ordeal. "And the requirement is to pay four lawyers [one to represent each father, plus one for the surrogate] to craft a parenting agreement, which no straight couple has probably ever been asked to sign."
The throuple won the right to their "poly birth certificate" just before Piper was born. "Had we not... one of us three parents would be a legal nobody to the kids," Jenkins explains in the book. "No right to visitation if we split up. No ability to consent for medical care. No say in decisions. No legal responsibilities. No automatic inheritance. This would have been really risky for the family."At the end of the day, the stress and pain of the fight were all worth it for Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Mayfield, and Hodges. "I’m Papa, Alan is Dada, and Jeremy is Daddy," Jenkins explained. "We all bring something different. Alan is the best at reading books, with an accent and backstory for every character." While Jeremy — who is the creative dad — makes bath bombs and special lunches for the kids, Ian is often the family cook and the resident fort-maker.