Who Gets To Decide Who Sees A Child?

Classes are back in session and there’s no rhythm to it yet, which is why I’ve been absent here.  But maybe from now on…..anyway, one can hope.

I’ve been thinking about this story for some time.  Selena Kazimierski and Nicole Lavigne are a lesbian couple who wanted to raise a child together.  They live in Ontario, Canada.

Rene deBlois was a high school friend of Lavigne.  He agreed to provide sperm for the couple.   It appears that he signed an agreement saying he would never contact the child.   Tyler Lavigne was born in October, 2010.

(As an aside, I think it is interesting that the news story does not say which woman gave birth to Tyler.   I will assume for the moment this is reflects a choice made by the women not to include this information.  (I could be wrong, of course–it could just be the reporting.)   Assuming it is a choice, it is an unusual one and one that I respect.)

DeBlois now rejects the agreement.  He asserts this is partly because Lavigne had verbally promised to have a child for him and she has reneged on this commitment.   (I think we’re left to wonder about what else has contributed to his rejection of the agreement.   He has sued to claim paternity rights–presumably based on his genetic connection to the child.   (You can see that he would have no claim based on intention, given the agreement he signed, nor can he claim to have functioned as a parent.  Neither is he married to the woman who gave birth–so genetic connection must be what he relies on.)  The case is scheduled for trial in October.   Given the unsettled and underdeveloped state of the law in Canada (which is not unlike the state of the law many places), this could be an important legal development.

But this is not actually what brought the case to the newspaper just at this time.   DeBlois sought access to the child pending the trial.  Tyler, who is now 22 months old, has never met DeBlois.   Tyler’s mothers opposed the request.   The judge, Justice Norman Karam, sided with the mothers.   There’s a pull-quote in the article that I think must be taken from his opinion:

It is common sense to delay creating a relationship between a child and a stranger unless there is a guarantee that the relationship will continue

This is consistent with the mothers’ argument that allowing access now could actually effect the outcome of the trial.  (I think this is because if there were access now, deBlois might invoke the relationship he forms as a basis for claiming parenthood at the trial.)   Essentially what the judge did here was maintain the status quo  until the trial.

Now I recognize that some of you will say this comes at a cost–the cost being that for two more months Tyler will not interact with  deBlois.    But I’m not sure what meeting his genetic father would mean to a 22-month old.  What would he understand about who this person was?   To my mind, not much.

From my perspective, the key thing is to appreciate the undecided legal issue that lurks at the heart of this case–which is whether deBlois is a legal parent.  It would be good to know what the effect of an agreement like the one signed by the parties here is–not just for the people involved here, but for all the people in the future who might think that this is the way they’d like to form their families.    It would be good to know what the effect of a oral side-agreement is, too.

And this all leads me to a slightly different way of thinking about what is going on here:   If de Blois’ is not recognized as a legal parent (and he isn’t yet) then the legal parent or parents (I’m not sure how many there are–which is to say whether both women are legal parents) get to decide whether Tyler sees him.   They have (or she has) for the moment said “no.”   A judge doesn’t get to overrule the decision of a legal parent absent some fairly special circumstances, and so the judge here is right to defer.  He’s also right (in my view) to move cautiously.

If this case continues it may well present an opportunity for determination of some significant issues about parentage in Canada.   I’ll try to keep an eye on it.   I realize that for some the answer is going to be easy–because the genetic connection is clear.   But it looks to me like the court will more likely take this case as one that presents important issues about the enforceability of various agreements that were made here.  I’ll try to keep a watch on it, but if anyone else sees further coverage of the case, do feel free to flag it for me.

One closing thought: Cases like this–where clearly whatever it is the parties have planned has gone badly awry and you end up in litigation–make the use of anonymous sperm providers look awfully appealing.   I don’t know anything about why the women here chose to go with a high-school acquaintance as sperm provider.  Maybe they hoped that someday they would choose to introduce the child to him.   But whatever the reason, you’d have to think that their second guessing that choice at this point.

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42 responses to “Who Gets To Decide Who Sees A Child?

  1. To me, this has the opposite effect – not only do I not see anon “donors” as more appealing now, but I find that even friendly arrangements with known donors can be quite creepy. The child can easily be commodified even among friends.

    The donor’s request follows a brutal business logic: we agreed to create two human beings together, and you’ll get one and I the other. Since you reneged on creating the other baby, now it’s only fair we split the one existing child down the middle.

    • Pronia Agape – sharp as a tack and on point as usual (which is far to infrequent)

    • Great point Pronoia.
      Of course I believe both agreements should be equally unenforceable.

      • I think I’ve framed this is a really important way–one which I think is probably at the heart of the case the court will have to decide: Should the agreements (assuming there are two agreements) be enforcable? Why or why not? If there are indeed two separate agreements, do we need to treat them the same way? (There are some technical lawyer-like reasons you might treat them differently–like that one is in writing and one is not–and there might also be reasons related to substance?

        If you think both should be unenforcable, it could be for different reasons. It’s easy for me to find rationale for saying that the oral agreement about having a child should be unenforcable: No one can be forced to become pregnant.

        To me, the agreement about not contacting the child requires different thinking. Is it that no one can ever make such an agreement or is it the timing of the agreement (that he made it before the birth of the child?) If it is that no one can ever make such an agreement, I assume that this would have something to do with the genetic connection that exists between him and the child?

        • I think a contract promising never to contact anyone is ridiculous and uninforceable – unless you have a stay away order for harassment or something its a free country and we can pick up the phone and say hello if we want. I think the best you could hope for is some kind of monetary damages on breaking the terms of a private agreement, nothing that a judge could say hey you promised never to talk to your kid

          • I have several thoughts in response to this.

            First, it might be true that a contract promising never to contact someone is unenforceable, but it might not be ridiculous. It’s not entirely clear to me that the agreements around open adoption are enforceable, for instance, but I think there is real value in people discussing and clarifying their expectations. People might also feel that an agreement like this has some moral force–that one is obliged to keep one’s word. Certainly I would. This doesn’t mean that under no circumstances would I change my mind–but I’d feel like there had to be extraordinary circumstances to justify that.

            Second, the agreement might not be enforceable but it might be viewed as a clear statement of intention. He did not (at the time he signed) intend to be a parent to the resulting child. For some legal rules, this declaration of intention is critical. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to use intention as a determinant of legal parenthood in cases involving ART. Under this legal analysis an agreement like this could be seen as the crucial evidence that determines legal parentage.

            All this means is that there are reasons to take these agreements seriously beyond classical contracts law so the fact that they may well be unenforceable doesn’t make them ridiculous.

            The other thing I’d say is that if the man here is not a parent then it might well be possible to get a court to order him to stay away, should it come to that. (One always hopes it does not.) Non-parents have no rights, as a general matter, to see a child. Legal parents determine who their child sees and spends time with. I think courts might be willing to enforce that right with a protection order if the parents can convince a judge that one is necessary.

            • True if he’s not the legal parent of the child and someone else is playing that roll then of course they can dictate who the child does and does not see but they cannot control who does and does not approach their child save a court stay away order for having harassed the child or something. And it is not just him that could break his promise never to contact, it could be his other children (if he had any) or his other relatives – there is nothing stopping them, no law, no stay away orders naming them stopping them from seeing the kid on the street or on facebook and saying “Hi I’m your Sister Samantha and I just want to tell you that your whole family really misses you and cannot wait to meet you” We live in the public realm. They could send a letter to the house or make a phone call but of course, they’d have to get through the parents. They could join the same church or enroll in the same school or get a job near by just in case the opportunity to meet should arrise. We are talking about someones kid or sibling or grandchild and it could be felt as a significant loss to the family and the desire to communicate to the child that the family is there if they ever want to contact them can be quite strong and going through the parents is not always possible if they are sequestering the kid. This happens a lot with older adopted Kids that end up sneaking and seeing their relatives behind their adoptive family’s back or on the internet. Unless the family crosses the line into the realm of threats or harassment or whatever you can’t stop kids from making friends at school etc.

        • I agree that the 2 agreements are not equal. no one can demand that someone get pregnant or use that as any sort of condition in a legal manner. But I don’t think the relinquishment should be legal either. Of course, I don’t know what Canadian law says about that.

          • You mean in general that a person should not be able to reliquish status as a parent? That’s sort of an extreme position. Or do you mean that there shouldn’t be private contracts for reliquishment (that’s assuming of course that he had some sort of rights to reliquish)? It’s more likely (I think) that the question in the case is about whether he has any parental rights. I think if he has parental rights many might find this a too-informal way to reliquish them. But I, too, don’t know about Canadian law.

    • I’m not sure I’d use the word “creepy” but surely it does show that arrangments with known donors can be complicated and fraught. For some people this would lead them to conclude that an unknown donor is safer/cleaner/easier. Or a donor who can be known some day (at the request of the child) but who cannot initiate contact. That’s what I meant when I said the thing about more appealing.

      I think you’re right about the logic in a way, but I’m not sure why it is particularly business logic. Is it because it’s tied to agreements that were made? I think we do that in lots of contexts, though perhaps it arises from our general exposure to business models in our life. The conduct could also be the product of logic like “if you are not going to honor our agreement, then I don’t have to either.” I’m not sure whether that also seems like business logic and, come to think of it, I’m not sure quite why it matters. So perhaps I’ve just gone down some blind alley. All this, of course, assumes that the agreement the man describes existed, which I think must be contested.

      • That is why I will be using a donor that is willing to be known at the request of the child. I believe my child will have a right to know who her biological father is, and that is not my decision to make that she can never know this. But given my situation, I believe it will be in the best interest of my child to just have one stable home from the start, to never be part of a nasty custody battle, and to always know how she was born and then make her own decision about contacting the biological father. And I would support any decision, whether it’s not finding out, finding out but not contacting, or finding out and contacting and/or metting.

        • Thank you for taking the time to explain your reasoning. I think it’s important to note that many women choose an option like this on the theory that it provide the best opportunities for the child to have a stable childhood and to have access to information about the biological father if/when she/he wants it.

          One critical element–which I think is demonstrated in what you’ve said here–is a willingness on the part of those who will be legal parents to support whatever decision the child makes. Not all children make the same decision and even those who reach the same place eventually may do so by very different paths, in terms of timing, etc. Despite many statements made by others here, I don’t think we can know in advance what children will want in this regard and so the best we can do is to be willing to follow their lead. It’s crucial to think carefully about whether you can do this (and it seems to me that you’ve done this) before making choices about ART.

          I really think that blanket condemnation by those who are sure that there is one and only one answer (and that is that all children must know their biological father from the earliest possible time) is counterproductive. It’s hard to offer a persuasive justification for a universal rule when there are plenty of kids who are fine with varying degrees of knowledge about/contact with biological parents. Of course there are also kids (and adults) who are harmed by the lack of knowledge/contact. But it seems clear to me at least that there is variation in this and it makes total sense to me that part of what determines the outcome is the approach of both the parents and the surrounding society. I think it’s a better use of my time to figure out how to reach the best outcomes–which means (to me) encouraging the sort of thoughtful process you’ve engaged in here.

          Condemnation by others who are sure that they know best cannot help here.

          • I think one thing that helped is I always knew that if I wanted to have a child, that being a single mother by choice would be how it happened. So I had a lot of time to think this through (the past several years), instead of say, having to make a decision after years of fertility treatments and hoping for a different outcome. But I’m now finally at the point when I have a start date. (probably fall 2013).

      • What I find creepy is the very idea that they were going to manufacture two separate mutually interchangeable human beings so they could have one each all to themselves – and then, apparently, these two full siblings would not be in contact with each other or their other biological parents.

        Like dolls. And when it was clear there wouldn’t be another doll produced, the father wants to share the only existing doll.

        I imagine the reason the mother backed out might easily have been that, having given birth to her own unique, beautiful baby, she realized she couldn’t just relinquish the next one as if it were a doll, or some other inanimate product manufactured in business.

  2. This I find horribly disturbing. A child has a chance to have more than just a genetic relationship with his or her father and other paternal relatives and also likely receive financial support from him and gain inheritance rights and the right to collect death benifits as a minor child of if the Father passes…..what the hell is wrong with these women that they’d be so selfish and narrow minded. Like bratty little whiny school yard sissies that won’t work as a team or share with the group they act like they own this little person body and sole. When this kid finds out what these women did to prevent the child from having contact with his/her family they will never recover – never be close I bet. Not everyone reacts to being used like a tool and having their family stolen from them angrily. But most people don’t like it when people take stuff without asking.

    • I find the language you choose to use really distracting. For instance, on what basis to you call these women “narrow minded?” Because they won’t contemplate the man also having a connection with the child? It seems odd to me that you would use a term like “narrow minded” to impugn another when you are quite unwilling to consider many alternatives–it’s your way or it’s wrong–and this could lead some to think that you are narrow- minded. And really most of what you’ve said here–it seems to me–is just nasty talk about they choices these women (and this man) made. What does that get us? I already know that you think anyone who acts this way is a bad person–or at least a person acting badly.

      You’re also making piles of assumptions about how people will be acting in the future or how people originally intended to act. Perhaps these women chose a man they knew because the did want the child to have some contact with his family, etc? And perhaps, if he had been honorable in keeping to the agreement, they would have introduced the child to him in a suitable way at a suitable time. Can we at least agree that if the man is operating in a totally different framework than the women, introducing him at age two could create some problems for the child?

      If you’re all worried about the death benefits and inheritance and all that, consider the possibility that the child has two legal parents–the two women–and so will get two sets of inheritances, death benefits, etc. You’d rather the child has two different legal parents (man and women) and get two different sets of post-death benefits. But why? Do you assume one set will be more valuable than the other? Is that what we should decide on–which set of estates will be more valuable. That seems ridiculous to me.

      • Every kid has 2 parents that they are the offspring of and paternity suits are evidence that DNA alone is sufficient to obligate a man to support his children and be legally recognized as their father because he is their father they originated from him. His intenetions about raising the child are irrelevant. Its not the child’s fault if his father never wanted to be a father, should the child have no right to support if the Dad just does not feel like it? Should the child have no right to support if the mother wants to thwart the father’s efforts? Should that really be her decision to make? I know there are court cases where they say mothers do not have the right to waive their children’s right to support by their fathers, to cut deals where they agree to simply support them on their own. Donor offspring know that other children of unmarried biological parents are entitled to the State’s assistance in locating their unnamed unidentified fathers in order that they may be recorded officially as their fathers and then be obligated to physically and financially support them. They know that other minors had the right to that parent child relationship even though their parents were not married and their father was at some point unidentified and possibly even unwilling to stand up and take care of them. Its great that the country goes and chases those fathers down. Why are donor offspring excluded from having their biological father’s chased down the same way? Why is it that the law has created a second class of minor that is not entitled to that same level of legal protection? Why are their bio fathers and mothers allowed to privately contract away their obligations? The ability to replace an estranged parent with a parent’s spouse or love interest is npt unique to donor offspring’s lives; everyone else that is on the up and up refers to the parent’s spouse as a step parent and step parents also have to support their step kids jointly with their spouses. The minor does not however loose his or her right to support from the other parent just because they have a step parent. So its not an issue of either or for me because if some minors get both genetic parents support plus their step parents support and more importantly legal recognition of all those various types of relationships and kinship then why not donor offspring? Why not them are they deficient somehow why does the law not treat them equally regardless of their emotions on the topic. We don’t ask other minors if they want to be taken care of by their genetic parents or if they want to be legally aknowledged as the sister of their sister or whatever its just something that happens by default when the truth is recorded and nobody seeks to conceal their identities from one another. Its just the way it is they are entitled to be part of their genetic families as long as nobody abandons them outside a court approved adoption. This is the one failure of adoption in my mind is assigning the minor a whole new identity rather than simply making it be a name change. With a name change you don’t loose legal recognition of your kinship to your family just because you join another family in marriage or change your name for some other reason. This really needs to be hammered out. Its not the cash value of the inheritance or benefits its the entitlement factor that a parent’s spouse or partner is not really a replacement for the missing parent just because they are doing the job – they are two separate people.

    • What inheritance right does he gain? People are free to leave their assets to whomever they like and people disinherit their children all the time. This man could leave his entire estate to the kid – no father relationship need be established. If a legal relationship is created by the court, the father is free to disinherit the kid, too. I don’t understand your inheritance rights argument.

      • Exactly. I think a child only automatically inherits if there is no will and no living spouse. For example, my grandfather, when he passed away, chose to split most of his money among his grandchildren rather than leave it to his only child. And my dad and grandfather had a great relationship, but my dad has been very successful in his career and so Grandpa wanted to give his money to his grandchildren to help us as young adults starting independent lives.

        • agreed. I think the question of inheritance would be if there was no will or possibly if there’s some will that says something like “estate divided among my children” so we have to decide which people are “children.”

      • Tony sure your right that people can leave their money to anyone they want in their wills. I’ve suggested to lots of parents looking for their kids that they do that even though they gave their kid up for adoption or the kid was usurped by marital presumption and the step father wound up as legal father)
        I have a long list of rights lost when the genetic parents are not listed on a person’s birth record. But in short as minors they’d be entitled to their genetic parent’s social security death benefits and also the death benefits of a step parent until they reached 18 if either died before the child’s 18th birthday. The minor would also be entitled to receive the death benefits of anyone they were living with if they were a qualifying dependent of that person on their tax returns the year prior – for instance a child goes to live with an aunt while the parent is in jail and the aunt dies….or a foster parent or an older sibling or a legal guardian of any kind. There is no reason to end the parent’s financial obligation to support the child physically or financially just because one or both of the parents happen to be married to other people because if your married to someone with kids your income will be combined with theirs and it will increase the amount of support your spouse has to pay. You can add your step kids to your medical and dental benefits etc because that is a legally recognized type of kinship and its legal family – step families. But its the kind of legal family that does not erradicate the child’s existing family or absolve the other parent of their duty to take care of the kids they made. Yes parents disinherit their kids all the time but absent a will if your their legally recognized child you can be deemed their sole heir and that won’t happen if your not legally recognized. I was more thinking of instances where deadbeat dad’s inherit some property when their parents die, the state will come and seize the property for back child support just the same as for back taxes. I think the child is entitled to receive that from him even if he’s been worthless as a father for 16 years – letting the step father adopt the kid really screws that up for the kid because it wipes the deadbeat dad’s debt clean and the kid did not gain anything from becomming the legal child of the step parent that he would not already get as a step child so long as his mother does not divorce the step father. Same goes for donor kids, why not just name the spouse step parent and the donor parent. I understand that is not what the donor or the commissioning people want, but nobody cares what the rest of the people in the world having kids want when they make a kid they are on the hook like it or not. Nobody asks the kid how they feel about it, they are just entitled to their bio parent’s support end of story unless they are a victim of paternity fraud. That totally sucks for them no different than being donor offspring.

  3. The parent’s should get to decide

  4. Well, if nothing else this was a good reminder to never read the comments section in a public newspaper (particularly one that leans as far right as the National Post).

    The case and article are both interesting, but leave a lot of questions unanswered around intent. Why is DeBlois fighting for access? What role does he imagine for himself in the child’s life? Why are the child’s parents (I use parents referring to his mothers) resisting contact between the donor and child? I ask only because it might help clarify whether this is a case that is actually focused on the best interests of the child or, instead, on the personal vendettas of the adults involved.

    Also, this case is an illustration of why so many people decide against known donors– myself included. It would be much easier to cultivate healthy and productive relationships between donors and children (when wanted or beneficial) if families didn’t have to fear a stranger claiming rights based on genetics.

    • “It would be much easier to cultivate healthy and productive relationships between donors and children (when wanted or beneficial) if families didn’t have to fear a stranger claiming rights based on genetics.”

      What an ironic statement that is. Can you explain what you think gives anyone, whether related or not, the right to t with thwart attempts by a man to take care of his offspring? Because he owes it to them. Its not him that has a right to them, its them that has a right to be recognized as being a member of the family they are related to. What would give someone the right to decide that another person does not need to know half their relatives?

      • Marilynn,

        You and I define family and relatives in distinctly different ways. I don’t believe that (presumed) genetic connection gives a person the right or responsibility to be a parent– I believe that intention and connection play a much greater role in how family is defined and cultivated.

        (I would also point out that most of us don’t know even close to half of the people we are genetically connected to– and don’t experience that as a loss.)

        • So should no child be entitled to support fromtheir bio parents unless their bio parents intended to be parents?

          • I think there is a huge divide between always and never, and that individual cases, circumstances and intentions need to be taken into consideration.

            I do not think that biology alone comes with any hard or fast rules regarding relationship or obligation, however.

    • You’re point about the comments is quite well-taken and something I keep in the front of my mind as I try to run this blog. Ugh.

      I think the questions you raise are critical–and perhaps some of what we might learn at the trial. For the moment, it is important to recall that this is only a temporary decision–essentially to keep the status quo until the trial. I think that’s really the only sensible decision to make, frankly. And at least this is a case where there is no disupte about what the status quo was–the sperm provider had no contact with the child.

  5. But then couldn’t you also argue the opposite – that if no visitation is allowed in the meantime, the court is more likely to just preserve the status quo and not considering changing anything?

    • Maybe it is true that the longer the status quo (whatever it is) exists in the life of a child, the more a court might pause before disturbing things. What matters to me here is we’re talking about a two month wait. There’s a serious question here–about who decides who gets contact with the child or however you want to phrase it. The legal process for answering it takes some time. If it’s a question with a pretty clear answer–like if it was clear he would win–then it seems like you should probably order preliminary relief.

      But if it isn’t a clear question (and I think it is agreed that under Canada law this is not a clear question) then I think the judge weighs costs/benefits of making a wrong decision now. I think that goes this way: Possibility one is that I order visitation now and it turns out to be a mistake. In that case there’s a lot of chaos. (This is the cost.) Possiblity two is that I do not order visitation now and it turns out to be a mistake. In that case I order visitation in two months.and two months of visitation has been lost (that’s the cost.) I think what the judge here decided is that the first set of costs (the chaos) is greater than the second set of costs (the two months less visitation). And the court made this assessment with a focus on the interests of the child, I think, rather than the grown-ups.

      • I admit I don’t know much about the Canadian court system, how long it takes to make rulings, and how the appeals process works, so it’s hard for me to know if two months actually means two months in this case.

        • Good point. I’m assuming that trial will occur when it is scheduled (which may or may not be a safe assumption.) Then there’s the question of how long it takes to decide. That can be a long time. And of course, if there are appeals and all the rest, it could be years. So perhaps one needs to do the calculus slightly differently.

          I would hope that the judge has now been sensitized to issues around timing and delay and that this might lead him to move expeditiously. (One can hope.) It might also lead him to consider a different order pending appeal once he reaches the merits of the case. But it seems to me holding things as they are, at least for now, is sensible. At this point (pre-trial) there’s not much for him to go on.

  6. My feeling is that the agreement before birth should be considered irrelevant and thus the case should be decided on a best-interest basis.
    Since the child is so young, i don’t see that according visitation would be such a disruption to his life, so I am in favor.
    If the father’s parental fitness in under question due to his total neglect of parental duties until now, perhaps supervised visitation is a better option.

    • to clarify: I am stating my preference for the final outcome. In the interim I agree that no changes should be made to the status quo.

    • In general we only get to the best interests test in a case between legal parents–this is one of the reasons it matters so much who is a legal parent. In a dispute between a legal parent and someone who isn’t a legal parent, the legal parent pretty much gets to decide what happens–that’s a key part of the parental rights the legal parent holds. Thus your statement rests on the assumption that the man is a legal parent–which is what must be determined in this case. I know that for you the answer is that he is a legal parent and, if he is, then I think the rest of this follows.

      As for why there might be chaos? It’s because there’s no working relationship between the two sets of parents (or the two parents, if you only think one of the women is a parent.) Co parenting is hard, co parenting with someone with whom you have no working relationship (and who you do not trust, which must be the case here by now) must be way harder.

  7. He wants contact with this child because the woman didn’t have a (second) child for him. That’s so bizarre and disturbing that I’m inclined to think he shouldn’t have any contact with this child.

  8. most all the adults discussing this have access to their fathers, they have yet to come up with a justification for denying the child this same access

    imagne how the child will geel when he sees the internet as an adult

    • Not everyone will agree that this man is the father of the child. I suppose it depends on what one means by father–on which modifier is assumed. Obviously he is a biological father. Whether he is a legal father is precisely what is at issue. He is not a social father. And, for whatever it is worth, he wouldn’t qualify as an intended parent.

      Beyond that, we don’t know that the women here would deny the biological father all access. They may just want to control when and how he is introduced to the child. Or that might have been the plan until things fell apart, which they apparently have.

      I’m not at all sure what the internet has to do with things here–and the child may well see the internet long before adulthood. One thing you might discover is that there are many children like you–with two moms, with a known donor dad who is out there in the distance somewhere.

    • My potential child will have the opportunity for access to the biological father as an adult, and will be not denied that. I am interested in many of the cases on this site because I believe biological parents should have first opportunity to raise their children and it’s valuable for the child to have a relationship with them when possible. The question in this case (in my opinion) should be whether the circumstances in which the father agreed to give up parenting rights was legally valid.

      • What about those agencies and sites where you find someone to use as a donor who will also be the legal father so they cooperate with you and share custody on some level? They pay support you could have sole physical and legal custody but they have visitations and what not? The kid would have everything they deserve then they loose nothing no lost rights or lost relatives or lost financial support or lost history or any of that. There are lots of those websites where people want kids without romance.

        • Just seems like if people want to raise kids they should want to cooperate with the child’s other parent because the child has two of them by default and cooperation can occur without marriage – courts require that of people all the time. I think that someone willing to try to work with the other parent is thinking more about what is good for the child than what is good for themselves. I actually think parents owe it to their children not to interfere with the other parent’s performance of parental obligations and also to advocate for their child getting the other parent to do the heavy lifting of parenthood if they are slacking off and don’t feel like it. Parents should be advocating to get their kids all they deserve from the other partner and it would be nice if they really wanted them to have it rather than prefer a situation where they did not get anything from them at all. Step parents have to support their spouses kids anyway so why bother making them a parent when they already have one of those that should be doing their fair share?

        • I looked at it, but it’s not legally enforcable in my state. A judge could throw the whole thing out and give the father primary custody if he felt like it.

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