updated 01/29/2010 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/29/2010 AT 9:15 AM ET
The red carpet is an unusual spot to hang out with your ex – unless you’re Rosie O’Donnell. Last week, at the New York City premiere of her documentary A Family Is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O’Donnell Celebration, the comedian happily posed for photos alongside her four children – and Kelli Carpenter, her partner of 10 years whom O’Donnell only recently revealed she’d separated from in 2007.
“What makes a family is love, and we all love each other,” O’Donnell, 47, tells PEOPLE. “We’re gonna stay together and take care of each other as a family unit.”
The definition of a family is at the heart of the comedian’s documentary, which premieres this Sunday on HBO at 7 pm ET and features interviews with kids who come from all different types of families: ones headed up by a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, as well as a mother and a grandmother. Adoption and surrogacy are also discussed.
“It’s just children telling the truth about how they live and how it is for them,” says O’Donnell.
A Family also includes new songs by artists including Ziggy Marley and They Might Be Giants, covering everything from love to in-vitro fertilization.
Adjustments and Challenges
O’Donnell says she was inspired by the popular 1970s album and TV special Free To Be You and Me, created by Marlo Thomas. “We took that model and just applied it to family instead of equal rights,” explains O’Donnell.
The comedian herself appears briefly in the documentary with her daughter Vivienne, 7 (her other kids Parker, 14, Chelsea, 12, and Blake, 10, are seen in video footage), and addresses her split with Carpenter. She also acknowledges how it’s “difficult for families to adjust and changes are challenging.” (Her next documentary, she reveals, will tackle divorce.)