Jay had already been forced to be creative in finding connection without romance. He remembers the first time he met someone with whom he had “really intense energy,” and how they took the time to explicitly discuss what their ideal relationship would look like. They didn’t want dating and sex. They wanted to go dancing together all the time and cook and meditate together. He’s now a godfather to her son.

Maybe, Jay thought, he could apply that creativity to the project of building a family—a permanent one—on his terms. Today, Jay is part of a three-parent family in northern California. He lives with a married couple, Avary Kent and Zeke Hausfather, and is not part of their marriage, but is a father to their biological daughter, Octavia, or Tavi, whose full name includes all three of their last names.

Jay is Tavi’s parent just as fully and permanently as Kent and Hausfather—and just as legally too, since three-parent adoption has been recognized by the state of California. (Three-parent adoption has also been recognized by state statute in Maine, Washington State, Rhode Island, and Vermont, according to Colleen Quinn, the director of the Adoption and Surrogacy Law Center at Locke & Quinn.) Family, in his own way.