Multiple Parents in a “Brave New World” | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | CWR
This new world began not in the scientific laboratory, but in the minds and desires of men.
Recently, the California governor signed a law whereby children could legally have not just two, but three parents at the same time. This is the fifth state, plus the District of Columbia, to have such legislation. The law is proposed, naturally, under the rubric of “helping the child,” of keeping him out of a foster home. Whether giving a child two “parents” of the same sex is good for the child in the first place is likewise not brought up. The bill was not clear about who will have authority when there is a conflict among the three parents about some course of family action. Will it require a unanimous vote or only a 2-1 majority?
Nor was there argument over the dubious notion that a single person, or even a couple, has an individual “right” to a child. The first question is not about a “right” of a single person or of parents but of their duty to the good of a child. The focus of our thinking on this issue should be on marriage and its nature. Children are gifts, not results of “rights.” “Rights” look to something supposedly inherently “due” to an individual—something that one can demand others to provide. A man and a woman are free to marry each other. What marriage is means that their relationship can result in a child. But the child is his own being. He is not simply a “planned product” of parents with “rights” to him. The child must be considered at all stages of his being to be for his own good, to which parents are ordered. The parents’ good is a result, not a cause, of this good.
The issue behind the new law had to do with a lesbian couple who decided to have a child, something they obviously knew they could not have by themselves. Needless to say, they had, as such, some insurmountable difficulty in carrying out this “intention.” Their relationship, such as it is, can never result in a child who is the produce of their exchanges. They can only have a child by an “imitation” of what a real marriage between a man and a woman is.