In her new HBO documentary, 'A Family is a Family is a Family,' Rosie O'Donnell brings together all sorts of families and lets the kids offer their candid and funny insights about what being a family means. The number or gender of the parents or how their kids found their way to them isn't part of the definition.
Rosie told the Huffington Post she made the movie to celebrate all the different shapes families can take and show that "each one is valid and deserves recognition from each other and the community and the laws of the land."
The movie doesn't ignore Rosie's own changing family and how her 2007 split from longtime partner Kelli Carpenter affected their four children. In one sweet scene she explains to her daughter Vivienne Rose that even though she and Kelli don't live in the same house, "family is forever. And family is love."
The kids were also understanding during their off-screen conversations.
"It was a long transition and we tried for a long time to see different ways we could make it work," she said. "We're still a family, and the kids always knew that and they knew we were trying to be happy and not have fights."
Rosie and Kelli still live near each other in Nyack, New York, and spend plenty of time together with their kids as a family. Rosie said that gay couples have an easier time maintaining a friendship after the relationship is over.
"Gay breakups are not really very similar to heterosexual breakups because the paradigm with heterosexuals is there is a specific date when everything ends," she said. "That's not how it was with us. We're still a family, and the kids always knew that and they knew we were trying to be happy and not have fights."
Rosie said her kids never really got teased for having two moms because they were famous and there was plenty of other stuff for kids to zero in on.
Though Rosie and Kelli will always raise their children together, the family may change shape again soon when she and her girlfriend, Tracy Kachtick-Anders, merge households. Rosie said she met the Texas-based artist in-person for the first time with her kids in tow, in Miami.
"My kids were there," Rosie said. "I really enjoy her. She's 45 and has six kids, I'm 47 and I've got four. Everything's okay."
The whole crew is moving in together soon, Rosie told Oprah last week, with all ten kids under one roof.
"Our group of kids together is like the Brady Bunch on steroids," she told People. "Or the Gay-dy Bunch."
'A Family is a Family is a Family' debuts Sunday night at 7 pm EST on HBO.