Today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a long story, starting on the front page, about a child with autism. The point is really conveyed by the headline–“Parent’s are autism’s hidden victims.” The story focuses on one particular child and his parents. His three parents. You have to read down a bit, but about a third of the way through this language appears: “Over the past year and a half, Sharky’s three parents — Lillie, her ex-husband, Ted Munat, and her partner, Stormy Addams –“
Why bother noticing? It’s not that the configuration is so odd. It’s that it is so unremarkable and yet remarked upon. A passing reference to three parents. Surely a sign of the times.
Most likely the reference is to three social rather than three legal parents. As such, it’s a report about the lives of the people involved more than a bit of breaking legal news.