On Gender and Genetics

The post I put up earlier today is in the nature of current events, really.   But as we near the year’s end it is also my nature to think back more broadly about what goes on here at the blog.    I’d say that one of the most consistent discussions here is one about the importance of genetic linkage.

There are lots of ways to frame this question:   Should being the genetic parent of a child make you a legal parent of the child?  Should it mandate some other form of legal relationship if you are not a legal parent?   Should it give you a “right of first refusal,” as it were?    Today I don’t propose to address any of those questions directly.   Instead, I want to restate some of the opinions that inform my take on these questions.

Regular readers will all know that I am generally skeptical about claims to legal parentage that are premised on genetic relationship.   (I’ve come to  be much more supportive of claims to some sort of recognized legal status that is not legal parentage.)   I want to talk a bit about why I take this stance.  I have done this before, but not for a long time and I think it is useful to revisit the topic.   For me, this is all about gender.

When a child is born two things are always true.   First, the child has two genetic parents–one male and one female.  Each has contributed 1/2 the genetic material to create the child.   Thus, the contributions of the male and the female are, from this point of view, essentially equal.   Second, a woman gave birth to the child and, before giving birth, was pregnant for something like 40 weeks.

The second fact is particularly important to me.   In a perfect world–one where pregnancy was always and only chosen–it would generally mean the woman had made a specific decision to nurture a child.   But even in an imperfect world, it generally means that the woman has already invested a substantial amount in the child and it often (even very often) means that the woman has also invested herself in the idea of being a legal parent to the child.    What I mean is, the woman has imagined herself raising this child–making the critical decisions, being present at the crucial moments.   It’s possible that another person has made a similar sort of commitment to the as-yet-unborn child, but it isn’t necessarily the case.

By contrast the genetic parents of the child may be completely uninvolved in the pregnancy/birth process.   (I think it might be easier for me to talk of the genetic parent as being male, but I recognize that an egg donor is a female genetic parent, but this is less common and rarely if ever occurs by happenstance.)

Now I need to digress a moment to talk about legal parentage and power.   I think it is fairly apparent that legal parents have power over children–they make decisions for them all the time.   What is less obvious is that when there is more than one legal parent, each legal parent has a certain amount of power over the other legal parent.  If legal parent A wishes to make some decision for the child, legal parent B can oppose that choice and at the very least make life very difficult for parent A.

Now to put this in gendered terms, I worry about instances where a man and woman are both legal parents but the woman is more committed to the child.   In this instance, the man, by virtue of his status as legal parent, will have leverage over the woman and child while she will not have corresponding control over him because he doesn’t really care about the child.

It seems to me that using genetic connection as the determinant of legal parenthood actually maximizes the likelihood that this situation will arise.    It means there will be (many?) men who are legal parents who have no particular interest in the child per se but do have an interest in controlling the mother of the child.   A man need to nothing to earn the status of legal parent save participate in a fleeting act of intercourse.

I’d much sooner have parenthood turn on something that actually demonstrates an interest in the child.   This doesn’t by any means rule out all genetic parents.  It just means they have to do more than simply be genetic parents.  They have to take action to manifest their desire to be parents.

I know this leaves a host of questions unanswered.   Most obviously, how can anyone other than the pregnant woman manifest the desire before the child is born.    I put these questions aside for now, though.  I just wanted to see if I could walk through why I think basing legal parenthood on genetic relationship alone is a bad idea.

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47 responses to “On Gender and Genetics

  1. Ah but if you base parenthood on something that actually demonstrates an interest in the child then you are treating the child as property to be had, to have an ‘interest’ in rather than an obligation to. Don’t you see that the very nature of your proposal objectifies the child and grants parenthood to people who demonstrate effort? Its like saying you can earn yourself a child based on how much of something you put in; be it money or effort or time the child becomes an object that can be won by whomever puts up the most whatever.
    Your not thinking of who owes the child what. It makes no difference who wants to take care of the child who owes it to the child to take care of them? How do we protect the child’s interest in obtaining what they are due from the people who caused them to exist by having reproduced? Nobody else owes the child anything and so for them to take care of them is either an act of total altruism or an act of selfish need in order to fill some void in their life for the presence of a child.

    • I didn’t actually think about “interest” having multiple meanings, but if course it does. One can have an interest in a business or a piece of land and that is the sense in which you use it here. You are quite right that this treats the thing as property. One has an interest in a piece of property.

      But when I say “I’m interested in what you do” I think that means something else. I think to be interested can mean to have concerns about that do not stem from ownership. I am, for example, intensely interested in my kids’ experience of being teenagers. That’s not because I own it or them.

      Perhaps it would have been better if I had chosen a different word. Suppose I had said something like conduct “that demonstrates a concern for and a commitment to” the child? More words, but maybe better ones? At least better in terms of capturing what I meant to convey.

      • I appreciate that you recognize the word interest can have a property based implication. I know and knew that was not what you meant to convey. I knew that you meant to talk about fathers who don’t give a damn about their kids – have no interest in them.
        But you did not address the point of me switching it up that way – I’m pointing out that your saying being interested in a child should give a person an interest in parenthood (like a proprietary interest or a share of the child).
        You see that if you take that interest based approach where caring gives a person an interest in parenthood, then what happens to a child that nobody cares about? There is nobody to hold accountable. Parenthood is not a stakeholder kind of gig. It should make no difference whether he is interested or not he has a duty to fulfill and the child deserves that performance from him. The fact that other people are more interested and caring than him is lovely the child will benefit from the presence of people like that in their life if the parents allow it and certainly if that person is married to or is the partner of one of the parents they will be around and play a significant roll in shaping the child’s personality. But they need to do that without expecting something in return without trying to earn themselves possession of the child parental title over the child. It is not their duty to do it they are doing it for nothing in return, possibly because they are in love with one of the child’s parents as a spouse or partner. They can do it without taking the child’s rights away. They don’t have to replace the estranged parent legally to add to the child’s life.

  2. Minors don’t exist as payment to individuals who care for them. If they want to care for an abandoned child so much they should do it without any “interest’ in the child. If they want to be the child’s parent and that is why they put in the effort then they believe that you can earn yourself control of a human being based on sweat equity. Why should the effort of one erase the obligation of the other?
    Children don’t exist to serve the needs of their biological parents they exist to serve their own needs and their parents are obligated to care for them while they are learning to care for themselves. Any emotional enjoyment their parents may get out of the act of raising them is an aside and not the purpose of them being born. They are not born to serve that need in their bio parents and they are certainly not created to serve that need for anyone else either.

    • Again, I think the problem here is the ambiguity of the word I chose. I don’t think people who are disinterested (which I take to be the opposite of “interested” as I meant to use it) invests all the time/energy needed to raise a child. Again, I could have chosen better words.

      Then again, it is a form of sweat equity. If you build a meaningful psycological relationship (and I think relationships are constructed or built–they don’t just exist or spring into being) then that does count for somethig to me,

  3. And by the way you are trying to solve the possibility of a problem between the father and the mother by making sweeping generalizations and punishing children by eliminating their right to rely upon the men responsible for their creation equally to that of the women responsible for the same. What you are describing as control over the mother is nothing more than access to and contact with his offspring, something that the mother also has. You are saying that by obligating him equally to care and contact with his offspring that he would have anymore power over her than him and he would not. He would not have more control over what she does than she has over him. If he is truly a bad man dangerous for his child to be near then she has plenty of recourse to cut contact between him and their child. She does not need to go around saying that he is not the father.

    • I do not mean to be punishing anyone. I agree that when men are in fact concerned with/involved with the children they have created via sex then we ought to try to recognize that concern. But when they aren’t concerned with/involved with the children, then I would give them no special rights.

      Remember, though, that I am prepared to impose obligations–support obligations–without granting rights. I know this is hugely controversial, but I think you can justify support obligations as an obligation to pay for the consequences of your actions.

      • Well, I’d forgotten that. What you end up with then is a father that has no custody or visitation with the child, which I would hope would be for good cause that was provable, certainly you’d need to prove it if he objected and wanted to see the child he was supporting.

        I’d ask you to explain how what you propose is any different than what we generally have now as the law with various custody arrangements where he’s still obligated but looses much parental authority.

        Are you looking to build a permanent parent like connection that would outlast the relationship with the mother for non-genetic parents so that step parenthood or socially built parenthood would not terminate at divorce or something?

  4. I agree that at the time of birth the mother is most invested…. but the significance of that fades with time.

  5. that is to say, USUALLY. Its not an assumption one can automatically make. For example recently we’ve discussed quite a few cases here in which the birth mother is not invested in the child’s care and infact attempts to give it over to someone else, while the father seems much more invested.

    • True again. I wish I could confine my thinking to a perfect world where all women who brought a baby to term decided to do so, but of cousre that isn’t true. And men can care a lot. But It isn’t just caring I’m looking for–I want to see action consistent with caring. You know the old saw–Actions speak louder than words.

  6. That’s the problem when you start relativizing things that are facts – you’re just made surrogacy impossible, as every pregnant woman has proven she’s invested in the child, while the genetic mother is merely a source of genetic materials.

    Not that I like surrogacy.

    • I don’t think I’ve made it impossible–I’ve just shifted the power balance. A woman who gives birth will be a legal mother. Thus, if the IPs want the child, they need to adopt it from her. She needs to be willing to let them do that after the birth of the child. Which means they need to have a decent working relationship if they are to rely on her. Which means the IPs must treat the surrogate respectfully. I rather like that.

      I know it diminishes the appeal of surrogacy because of the introduction of this risk factor–that the surrogate will change her mind. But that’s okay with me as a price.

  7. If a genetic parent needs to prove they are invested in the child before being considered a legal parent, does proving they are not invested liberate them from any obligations toward that child as well?

    It would make sense to legally separate situations in which a genetic parent will not be a social parent by design from situations in which one of the genetic parents chooses to opt out of parenthood.

    • Love paragraph number one. Don’t understand paragraph two. The first sentence seems to say the same thing as the second. How is a situation where a genetic parent won’t act as a social parent by design any different from one where a genetic parent opts out of parenthood? Same thing right?

      Also why would some children deserve to have one parent opt out without a formal adoption? And what would stop both from opting out? Why would a child not deserve to have both genetic parents provide physical and financial support? If it is good enough for donors then why not everyone? If donor offspring benefit from their genetic parent’s absence lets just not have anyone take responsibility for their offspring.

      • Sorry, that did sound rather confusing. I was enjoying my morning coffee at the time. I meant to say that a situation in which a genetic parent is not a social parent through mutual or multiparty consent (child not included unfortunately), through sperm or egg donation, is rather different than a situation in which a genetic parent decides he (because this is exclusively male) does not want to parent the child, after conception through intercourse.

        • Why do you see the two situations as different? Other than the law that says donors are exempted from parental responsibility of course. And maybe we should touch on why we have a special class of people who can simply opt out of raising the children they choose to create for reasons of wishing to make a gift of their parenthood and offspring.

          So once a person has offspring do you think it matters why they decided not to raise their offspring? Do you think it matters if they were paid to not raise them? Do you think that one parent should be able to waive the childs right to support? If so why? Why would some children deserve less just because their parents did not feel like doing what other parents are required to do?

          I mean in the end it just does not seem to matter what a person’s intentions were before their offspring existed right? Their offspring have no control over that and they should have a default right to something from their genetic parents because if not them then who and if it is someone else why and how did they attain that position without somehow objectifying the child like paying to be in that position or like somehow earning that spot which again objectifies a child as something one earns.

          • Your points are valid.What is that “something” a child has a default right to? Is it information about the genetic parents’ identity or genetic parents’ identities, or financial support, or contact, or in fact the right to be raised by genetic parents?

            Don’t you think adoption objectifies the child? I recently came across an adoption agency’s website, where several “birth parents” were hoping to place older children, including a ten-year old. The advert mentioned something about the child being obedient and good at math. I was frankly shocked this is even possible.

            Yet, not every genetic parent is capable of raising their children. Is there any solution to that type of situation in which the child is not objectified?

            • Yes I do think adoption can objectify the child. I think it must be very carefully approached.
              Genetic parents initially held responsible for their offspring’s care may be later found incompetent by the state and then need to be placed with other people to raise them or the genetic parents might find themselves incapable of raising their child and then give their child up for adoption needing to find others to raise them – these situations are not objectifying. These are situations where you have a child that needs to be cared for and you are looking for people to do that. It’s the idea of making a gift of a child that is objectifying or making a sale of a child that is objectifying. The child can be objectified by an adoption agency but not the parent. I think that happens plenty. The parent is not getting anything out of the relinquishment, no money no goods, they are just hoping to find a place where their child will be safe and well cared for – not objectifying. That is a responsible parent. If the state is doing the same on behalf of an incompetent parent that is not objectifying either. Anyone making money off the hook up is objectifying the child though. I don’t think people hoping to be matched with a child should pay a dime not one red cent. The state would otherwise have to care for the child in foster care should be willing to cover the background checks and legal fees. Let my taxes cover it for ethics sake.
              All children placed in the care of people that are not their genetic parents should have the benefit of court investigation into the circumstances causing the genetic parents to relinquish and if any trade agreement is involved not place the child with those people.

      • Do you believe that a genetic father should be forced to be a legal father against his will?

        • they already are.
          if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities, they are called the unflattering terms “deadbeat dad” and “sperm donor”.

        • That depends on the circumstances. Do you think a genetic father has the right to decide he does not want to be a legal father? If so, how and in which circumstances? Is this limited to sperm donation, or does someone who sexually procreates also have the right to not “be forced to be a legal father against his will”?

          • Do you mean Ethical or legal?
            Ethically I believe a genetic parent never has a right to withdraw from his/ her parental role.
            Legally, the state will allow him the right to disappear as long as someone is taking care of the kid adequately. Its not the states job to force us to be good people.

            • Interesting position. I’d like to agree with you, but I can’t. In some cases, a genetic parent withdrawing from a parental role is in the long-term interest of the child. In your opinion, does one genetic parent have the right to prevent the other genetic parent from acting as a parent, in any circumstances?

              • I don’t think it is appropriate for one genetic parent to waive their child’s rights to be a legal member of the father’s family, waive their rights to inheritance, waive their rights to obtain copies of their father’s birth marriage and death certificates or those of all his relatives that could include their siblings and cousins. I don’t think it’s right to waive the child’s rights to inherit property or money through him or waive their rights to death or military benefits. I don’t think it’s right to sequester the child from knowing or being known to one or both absent genetic parents or those genetic parents relatives.

                I think every minor should have the right to physical and financial support from both parents equally and if one parent has evidence that the other is neglectful or abusive or incompetent to perform the physical care part of the deal then it is incumbent upon them to protect the child from being in a dangerous or abusive situation – they can get a protective order against that parent and they can have custody arrangements to reflect the fact that one parent has full physical custody and decision making authority without saying that the bad parent has no responsibilities for the child anymore. I think there are ways the law has for protecting the child’s safety that also protect the child’s interests. The parent has no interest in the child its the other way around. Heck they could even sever the parent’s right to inherit through the child without severing the child’s right to inherit through the parent.

                There is all sorts of things people can do like supervised visitation or no visitation that are respectful of the child’s right to their true identity and rights to information and support. You don’t have to reject reality to protect the child.

          • No I don’t think people should have the right to decide not to be parents if they have offspring. Just medically alone they owe the child some sort of permanent connection as a parent which is currently lost in adoption even. I am of the radical opinion that parents could given their offspring over for adoption without ending their parenthood they’d loose their parental authority and loose custody but the child would not loose legal status as a member of the genetic family not loose the right to information or the right to inherit, and I even think that some money for support should be annexed from their paychecks when they are capable of helping to support their child. That is a pipe dream though.
            The law is there to make people take responsibility for their own actions. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to take care of the children you reproduce to create. How would that be fair? The state will do it in an emergency just because its unseemly to have a bunch of neglected wild children roaming the streets aimlessly looking for food and shelter. The law is there because we cannot always count on people to do the right thing and take responsibility for their actions. There will always be people who don’t want to take responsibility that have to be forced to do it even though most people would do so willingly. As unfortunate as it is for the child of a reluctant father to know their father’s support is forced against his will – far more unfortunate would it be for the law to say they deserved nothing from him unless he felt like giving it.

        • Uh yes absolutely and they are frequently forced to be legal fathers against their will. Look not everyone has good caring genetic parents but it does not mean they don’t still deserve those people’s support at least. I mean do kids with lousy dead beat dad’s just not deserve their father’s social security death benefits if he dies before they turn 18? I know plenty of people who got checks till they were 18 because their dead beat junky dad’s died while they were minors. Really it’s not the child’s fault what decisions their parents make in life. Whatever the father has to give the child deserves even if it is unwillingly given. It is insulting for the adults not to fight for that for the child. Sure that is only monitary but that is mostly what laws for parents are about, physical and financial support you can’t legislate love. If the guy is a danger to the kid you can have a protective order against him and still he is the father and the child still has the right to inherit or the right to obtain copies of his birth marriage and death certificates and those of all his relatives. The child is still considered legal kin to his relatives. Its important to leave the child’s rights to him and his estate and all that fully intact regardless of who ever else might come into their lives to care for them. It is possible for the child to have a crappy father while maintaining the child’s equal rights.

        • Do you think the child of a dead beat father does not deserve that man’s care or support?
          Do you think the mother of that child deserves to shoulder the financial burden of raising her child all by herself because she chose to reproduce with a neglectful and careless man?
          Do you think we should get rid of paternity suits all together and take away financial support from genetic fathers altogether?
          Do you think minors deserve the support of only one parent, the woman who gave birth?
          Do you think that anyone else playing a parental roll should do so at the discression of the woman who gave birth – in a secondary parental roll as step parent that would terminate with the termination of a relationship with her as with divorce and step parent relationships? They’d only be responsible for the child if they were actively involved in a relationship with the woman who gave birth and she could get rid of them at any time.

          • I believe children deserve the emotional, social and financial support of both genetic parents, ideally. I also believe that children deserve to be kept safe, even from genetic parents. I believe that the genetic mother who gives birth is most often the most appropriate person to decide how to act, but not always. Family law, and family decisions, are hardly straight forward. It is also hard to apply some theory to each and every situation, since every situation is different.

            • Indeed, every situation is different. Unless you are a family law professor with a blog, then every situation is the same: another chance to disrespect men and fatherhood and promote a materialist view of children as property and women as owners of property.

        • Note that I am not talking about financial responsibilities or child support. I am talking about legal parenthood, which when forced upon someone may very well lead to child abuse and/or neglect.

          • What? Well then if it causes abuse or neglect to obligate people to care for their children when they don’t feel like it there are laws to deal with them after they break the law. Until then they should have to care for and support their child according to law. I’m sorry but not having people comply with the law for fear that making them comply will get them angry and cause them to do something abusive is just an incredibly strange thing to say. Of course the law expects people to behave a certain way and if they don’t feel like behaving that certain way there are consequences for noncompliance. We don’t just let people off scott free because we are afraid of them.

    • It does not. I’ve written elsewhere on the blog (cannot find it now) that I am willing to impose obligations without granting rights. It seems to me this can be easily justified by reference to what is best for children. There’s no reason we need to relate to these as a matched pair. A man could have an obligation to support without having rights to exercise control over the child.

      • From previous conversations, I know you are not just talking about an unfit father, but ANY genetic father who is not in a relationship with the child’s mother.
        Of all the points we disagree on, this is the most disturbing, expressing as it does an extreme anti-men bias the likes of which I have only heard by feminist backlashers trying to caricature feminism. This position is a caricature, thats how far it is from any system of justice.
        Anti feminists caricature feminists as anti men, men haters, people who think fatherhood is only good when you can squeeze money out of them. and what do you know, that’s exactly what you are advocating.
        The idea that the genetic relationship matters just enough to take a man’s money but not enough to give him any rights has no basis in any system that remotely believes in equality. I am reminded of marilyns very accurate critique of another post- men having equal access to their children (and not even equal access, but ANY access whatsoever like limited visitation) in your view as him holding power.
        I remind you julie, in any fair and just system, rights and responsibilities go hand in hand.
        Imagine if the tables were turned. In many parts of the world to this day, child custody goes automatically to the male. We are rightly outraged by this unequal treatment of women. And yet even in those situations, and especially when a man has completely barred the mother from any relationship with her children, Even in such patriarchy’s I doubt the father would have any rights to child upkeep from the mother’s family.
        The position you espouse is less just than extreme patriarchies only in the opposite direction. But oh, its the men seeking to control women?

        • Yeah, I don’t think the recent Dubai case ever turned up for discussion here. American couple, American born child, in Dubai on a 2 year contract. Dad kicked mom out of the house, claiming she had abused drugs and that the new baby she carried was the result of an affair. Dad got custody by default (and did some other nasty things like try and have the wife charged with adultery so if she returned to fight for the child she’d be arrested). Ultimately the dad only lost because I think the court in Dubai got mad at him when the drug tests all came out clean and a DNA test showed he was 99.9% likely to be the father of the new baby and decided to just send the kid back to the US with the mom (with dad legally free to follow) for the American courts to decide.

      • Are you willing to say that men and women should be held equally responsible for the financial support of their offspring?

        Are you willing to explore the fact that exempting some people from the financial support of their offspring is unfair to their offspring?

        It does not matter if someone else is willing to assume that financial burden on behalf of the parent being exempted; plenty of children have step parents who are required to help financially support them while still receiving financial support and benefits from their genetic parent that may or may not be involved in physical care giving. This provides the minor with a permanent right to support from the person who is responsible for reproducing to create them, and gives them the benefit of support from a step parent for so long as they are married to their parent. Belts and suspenders. At the very least the child should always have that right to support from the genetic parent and beyond childhood always have the right to be recognized as a member of the genetic parent’s family for health and reproductive purposes. It’s foolish to terminate those rights in favor of having a permanent right to support from someone who is not the person responsible for reproducing to create them because they are of no long term medical significance to the person as a minor or as an adult – and why would you get rid of one in exchange for the other when you could have both? All the adults have to do is cooperate for the child’s benefit. It seems very childish to say that the adults simply cannot get along so lets terminate a bunch of the child’s rights to make the mother and her partner or spouse happier.

  8. Julie
    You are raising a young male. Do you teach your son that his offspring are only important if he is in love with their mother? Do you you teach him that his offspring should only matter to him if their mother wants them to matter to him?

    If he has offspring by women that he is not in love with he should not take any physical or financial responsibility for them and should not try to help raise them in cooperation with him? His offspring only deserve to be included in your family if he is getting along with their mother? Would you only consider yourself to be a grandmother if he is a good and involved father?

    Let’s say he was madly in love with their mother but then became a wretched neglectful addicted mess of a man who gave not a dime of support nor spent a second with his offspring despite court orders.
    You won’t care about your son’s offspring if he does not care about them?. Your son’s offspring will not be important to you if he neglects them?

    Should he be prevented from actively playing a roll in his offspring’s life based on a blanket assumption that he would use his connection with his offspring to control their mother? Would his offspring just not deserve contact with him or you? Is their importance to you entirely dependent upon her preference?

  9. I completely agree with Julie. I believe that the primacy of genetics in claims to legal parentage leads to discrimination against women. Firstly, because it devalues gestation which only women do, and secondly because it devalues care-giving which mostly women do.

    • Devalues caregiving
      Devalues gestation
      Value. Worth.
      So you save these things of value up and you can get the object that you want. Your earning something. Earning a person all to yourself. Someone owes you a person because you earned it. If you put in the effort you get to keep the child and get to call the child all yours. If you steal another woman’s egg and put in the effort of gestating the embryo then you have earned yourself her offspring. Or you could buy her egg and promise to be absent and allow you parental title and then you’d have earned yourself a baby all your own.

      It should be impossible to earn possession of a child or earn parental title over a child. Parenthood is not a right it is an obligation for people with offspring.

      This is not about the value of genetic relatedness. This is about the obligation that comes with having offspring. It does not matter how much effort you put forth in order for the offspring to exist…the more effort you put forth in getting them here the more you have to go it alone in raising them? The gestating female becomes a land baron who can choose to sell half her land or keep it all to herself.

      • You keep jumping between obligations and rights. Like Julie said, they are not necessarily a matched pair. We need to consider the two separately. Regarding obligations: Yes, I believe that genetic parents should have obligations unless those obligations are willing to be fulfilled by someone else, e.g. adoptive parents or egg/sperm receivers. Regarding rights, I believe that those rights are “earned” more rightfully by extended care-giving than by a brief moment of selfish pleasure in sexual intercourse. Note that your position (favoring genetics in claims of legal parenthood) does not mean that you don’t believe in “earning” rights to parenthood. Rather, it means that you believe those rights are “earned” by having sex rather than gestation or care-giving.

        • is that so? do we accept the disconnection btw rights and responsibilities in other areas?

          • That they are not always linked doesn’t mean that there is no link. Ideally, the two should go together. But sometimes there are other factors to consider where the two may have to be separated, e.g. best interests of the child, and/or conflicting rights of other individuals.

            Also, Marilyn says that parental rights are not, and should not, be “earned”. However, we consider it unfair when people meeting their parental obligations/responsibilities do not then get parental rights. There is a sense that they “earned” their parental rights by fulfilling parental obligations and responsibilities. To argue on one hand that parental rights are not “earned” and then get outraged on the other hand that parental rights are not being given to someone with parental obligations, is like trying to have your cake and eat it too.

            Thirdly, there are many genetic fathers who have not fulfilled parental obligations/responsibilities. But the primacy of genetics in determining parental claims still assigns them parental rights.

            • Kali I believe that parents have obligations to their offspring and its children that have the rights to have that obligation be met by the people who created them and never have that right terminated even when custody may have to be terminated and they have to be placed in other people’s care for their own safety the very right to have expected their parents to behave a certain way should remain intact so that they do have legal recourse legal protection should their parents fail to meet those obligations. So that neglecting a child for a real long time does not essentially terminate your obligation as a parent and the child looses their right to inherit or get death benefits or be taken care of by that person so if say they surface out of the blue 15 years after being mia and someone else raising the kid – the kid has not lost all rights to be the parent’s legally recognized child so that the child does not stop being legal kin to his own blood relatives just because he may not know who they are and so that nobody can scoot in there and becme the kid’s legal parent just because the parent was mia and did not give permission. Men go to war and don’t know they even have children come back and find they’ve been adopted – they are being prevented from meeting their obligation and therefore i think are encroaching on the child’s rights. I don’t think bio parents have a “right” to possession of their child or a “right” to raise them. They have an obligation and are granted limited authority to make decisions on behalf of the child within the parameters defined by the state, because they owe it to the child and the state, not because it is their right to possess a live human being.

            • Again with the cake and eating it too.

              I don’t believe there should be legal assignment of parental rights for genetic parents.

              I don’t believe there should be legal assignment of parental rights based on sweat equity or effort or love or intention or any of that.

              I don’t believe there should be legal assignment of parental rights at all.

              I think the law should obligate all people with offspring to be equally accountable for their offspring as parents and equally obligated to their physical and financial care and that nobody should interfere with the performance of those obligations unless the child is in grave and eminent physical or mental danger.

              I believe all people should have the right to be legally recognized as members of their own genetic families always regardless of who cares for them and raises them while they are minors. I believe that minors should have a right to be cared for and brought up by their own genetic parents and be identified as their child and have all the rights that stem from that and that regardless of who the law may place them with for their own safety their identity is never altered to make them appear to be the child of any other person or persons. I believe that people should be willing to take care of minors who need their help when parents fail without having pretend to no longer be the chld of their genetic parents.

              Its one thing to separate a child from their genetic parents because of a provable offense against the child its entirely another to have children be the object of private trade agreements for parental rights and possession of a child. They are not property of ti genetic parent and not property of the person that commissioned their existence either.

              People act like children have the right to a loving stable environment only and it does not make a bit of difference who those people are or how they came to obtain the child. The process matters more than anything else the ethics of the whole thing matters because if they are raised by people who wanted to have them be seperated from their genetic parents and had a hand in helping it to happen something criminal has happened.

        • I certainly don’t think having sex should be the basis of the obligation to raise a persons own offspring. I don’t care how a person comes to have offspring – if they are raped or do the raping, if they are egg donors or sperm donors or if they are horny little teenagers in the back of the car none of that is at all under the control of their offspring. When their offspring is born their offspring should have the unquestionable irrevocable right to be identified as their child and their responsibility and a member of their family their responsibility forever. If those people are unfit then the law can place their offspring in the care of more suitable people without terminating the childs rights entirely. Other people can have the authority to act on the child’s behalf without taking away all the child’s rights or without letting the bio parents entirely off the hook. Yes I see it as punitive the way Ki said.

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