As much of our work in recent years has evidenced, the traditional boundaries of family life have expanded, in large part due to reproductive technology. Babymaking has shifted from the bedroom to the laboratory, with reproduction becoming a very technical, planned, contracted action.

A news story out this week from Vice evidences this to stunning effect with the headline “These Five People Are About to Have a Baby Together.” In this particular situation, a lesbian couple has partnered with a gay “throuple” who are all planning to raise the child together, splitting him between the two households. Or as one of the members of the arrangement describes it: “Five parents with equal rights and responsibilities, divided across two households—those are the terms of the agreement that we all signed and had notarized,”

While this arrangement did not rely on reproductive technology—they went the jars of semen and basters route—this situation is still confirmation for what happens when the desires of the parents (in this case 5!) trump the needs of the child. It’s hard not to view this situation and the creation of this child as a commodity or a product simply to satisfy the curiosity of these five individuals who are eager to push the boundaries of relationships and parenting to see what comes of it.

As another individual in the arrangement lamented, “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.”

Laws are meant to serve a pedagogical function—and once upon a time, family law in particular was crafted to enforce the idea that children thrive when they are in a stable, intact, two-parent family household with their biological parents. Today, it seems biology has very little to do with these concerns and the creation of children can happen via any method one chooses. Opportunism, indeed.

Image by joceykinghorn via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director