Anthony Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent, spoke with Ian Jenkins about his book Three Dads and a Baby: Adventures in Modern Parenting. The debut memoir by Ian Jenkins discusses his experiences trying to have a baby as part of a polyamorous gay “throuple.”
Anthony Ramos: What has it been like to see such strong response to your story?
Ian Jenkins: We love it! Publicity has been a strange ride but we’ve gotten messages from poly parents from all over the world thanking us for the visibility. It feels like coming out all over again, but after a lot of progress and acceptance–lots of curiosity, a little expected conservative pushback, and mostly congratulations. I get a few nasty comments on the instagram (“Satan’s work!!”) and just delete them.
AR: What are the benefits to being a throuple raising children?
IJ: It was tremendous having three dads and the bio mom and a host of others helping out with the first few months of our kids’ lives. I hope this isn’t too upsetting to other parents out there especially the hard working and under-appreciated moms but NO ONE WAS EVER TIRED and we got to just delight in baby time. Now, there’s always another parent around to help with school, learning, play, dinnertime, you name it, and it’s really clear to us we weren’t meant to retreat to separate houses behind fences to raise kids, but to do it in a loving community.
AR: What is the most rewarding thing about fatherhood for you?
IJ: I was not a baby / little kid person before I became a dad, but I’ve never experienced joy like a baby talk or giggle session with our kids, or just the warmth and weight of a toddler hug, or unexpected joys like my daughter coming up to me and saying “I just want you to know that I love you so much!” or absentmindedly saying of her mother, “I can feel Meghan in my heart and she fills my heart up all the way!”
AR: What have been some challenges you’ve had as new fathers and how have you overcome it?
IJ: As anyone who’s served a three year old a sandwich cut the wrong way or on the wrong color plate can tell you, tantrums are real and they are no joke and sometimes parents need hearing protection! We also have to make sure we parent consistently and make sure the kids don’t play favorites, but we talk that out. The biggest trick is preparing kids for events (“Time for school in five minutes!”) and setting expectations (“It will be bedtime when we get home so I need you to be on good behavior…”) and providing choices (“Broccoli is next, do you want the pink fork or the purple one?”)
AR: What advice do you have for other polyamorous couples who are parents or are considering parenthood?
IJ: Poly folks have already practiced their communication and partner caring skills and mostly need to keep at it. The specific tips would be to research the laws where they live and consider whether a marriage, or a move, or a surrogacy out of state might offer increased legal protections or security. Find a friendly, competent attorney and discuss the protections you’ll need, and whether additional parents can join a birth certificate later, or adopt, or all be legal parents at birth like we have. If you can’t find locally, reach out to an organization like PLAC at https://polyamorylegal.org. Consider parenting contracts, trusts or wills to protect the family and its assets. There are also excellent online resources for planning surrogacy, like a state by state comparison here.
Three Dads and a Baby: Adventures in Modern Parenting is available now.