You all know I’ve been following that trial in Michigan where a lesbian family brought a challenge to MI’s restriction on who can adopt. The trial itself ended yesterday and now the matter rests with the judge. An opinion is expected in a couple of weeks.
To recap briefly, MI only permits married couples to adopt jointly–which gives the adopted child two legal parents. The plaintiffs in Michigan are two women (April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse) who are a longtime lesbian couple. One woman has adopted two special needs children from foster care, the other has adopted one special needs child from foster care. Each of the three children has one legal mother (and one non-legal mother–by which I mean a social/psychological mother who has no legal status.)
DeBoer and Rowse originally challenged the adoption restriction but the judge suggested broadening the challenge to include MI’s restriction on who can marry. Continue reading
As you will know from earlier posts, there is a very interesting trial proceeding in Michigan. It’s a challenge to laws that prohibit a same-sex couple from marrying and therefore from jointly adopting. The plaintiffs are a lesbian couple each of whom has adopted children out of foster care. Though they have been together for quite some time, the two women cannot adopt each other’s children. This puts the children at risk in various ways–the non-adoptive mother is not a legal parent of the child.
What’s really interesting is that the trial judge is hearing live testimony from a series of expert witnesses of various sorts. You can follow along via twitter coverage or blog coverage or the local (Detroit) paper. I’m sure there will be other coverage, too, but how much can one take in.
So what to think? Continue reading
I have some hesitation about returning to the general topic of birth certificates as I know many people get quite wrought about it. But there’s a bunch of different stories out there on the topic so I’ll have a go on it. However, I want to try to set the stage first.
Birth certificates—at least in the US–are rather peculiar documents. Some of what is on them at least looks like a historical record. So for example, birth certificates routinely list the time of birth. That would seem to be in the nature of a historical record–a formal noting of a particular thing happening at a specific time and place. (Place is also in that category.)
But then there are some other things on birth certificates that, though they look like the stuff of historical records, aren’t. One–and the one that has been discussed the most extensively here–is “parents”–or as it sometimes appears “mother” and “father.” US birth certificates do not necessarily list the name of the woman who gave birth–which it seems to me would be the most obvious historical fact they might reflect. Continue reading
In the category of “this just in”–the Supreme Court of Idaho published an opinion today in which it concludes that Idaho law permits a lesbian to complete a second-parent adoption. This warrants at least a short post. I’ve written about second-parent adoptions in the past, (and very recently about NY decision denying a second-parent adoption) but let me do a quick recap:
Second-parent adoptions are of particular importance to lesbian families. If a lesbian couple decides to raise kids, one way to do that is for one woman to give birth to the child. By virtue of giving birth, she will be deemed a legal parent of the child. Continue reading
I’m in the midst of trying to develop a theory of parenthood that solves my “only one parent at birth” problem. (Check out yesterday’s post if this makes no sense to you.) But I need to interrupt myself to talk about this story from today’s NYT. It’s not totally off-point because it concerns the marital presumption of legal parenthood, which has been a topic of conversation in the comments recently.
So here are the basic facts of the NY case. A lesbian couple (Amalia C and Melissa M) decided they wanted to have a child. Melissa gave birth to a child. Amalia sought to complete a second-parent adoption–a process that would make her the child’s second parent without disturbing Melissa’s rights. This is a well-recognized process in NY.
But, according to the judge considering the adoption, there was a problem: The two women had gotten married in 2011 and NY recognized this marriage. Continue reading
I know there’s a lot of discussion in the comments to the last post, and of course I’m quite happy about that. Discussion is good, right? But there’s a point where the comments become cluttered and it’s hard (for me, coming late anyway) to follow it all. So I wanted to try a new post, restating some but then moving along.
At the outset, I want to highlight what I think is the critical question here: “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents necessarily bad?” To me the inclusion of the word “necessarily” is critical.
If you leave out “necessarily” and just ask “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents bad?” then I think the answer has to be sometimes yes and sometimes no. Continue reading
I’m always (yes, you’d think I’d learn) sort of astonished about the degree to which conversations here evolve (or devolve, depending on viewpoint), to focus on questions of the meaning of genetic relationship. I think this reflects both the personal concerns of those who take the time to write but also (and perhaps more importantly) a larger debate within our society. Indeed, as I think I’ve said, it seems to me that the prevalence of stories about seeking genetic origins, etc. reflects the same societal concerns.
Anyway, I thought it might be useful to step away from the detailed discussion of individual cases and think more broadly, and I wanted to try out a slightly different way of looking at things.
Let’s start with the focus on a single question: How important is it for a child to be raised by its genetic parents? Continue reading
I know there is a lively discussion elsewhere in the comments but I wanted to move along and post this case, which I think opens wholly different issues for discussion. It’s not the first time I’ve blogged on the topic, but I’m not (just at the moment) taking the time to link to earlier posts.
The opinion (which I am uploading so you can read it yourself) considers whether a second-parent adoption can be completed where the proposed parents are not and never have been a couple. There’s also been a bit of press coverage.
In this case, KAL and LEL are and have been very good friends. KAL wanted to become a parent and, as friends will, she confided this desire to LEL. He offered to provide the sperm and be a coparent.
Now if that had worked, this would actually be a fairly easy case, because they live in NY. Had he provided sperm and had she gotten pregnant and given birth, they would both be legal parents. But it was not to be. Conception did not occur. After a long time trying, LEL and KAL decided to adopt a child. Continue reading
Have we reached the end of the Baby Veronica story? Last night Dunsten Brown gave up physical custody of Veronica (no longer a baby), allowing the Capobiancos to assume that role. There’s no way of knowing if this is actually the end of the story. Litigation could be continuing, as the article suggests. But surely this is a significant moment. Actual physical custody of the-now-four-year-old child at the center of a very long legal struggle has shifted to her adoptive parents, who presumably have taken (or will take her) back to South Carolina.
I’ve written about this many times before, though most recently not so much about the actual merits as about the nature of the on-going struggle. It is this aspect of the case that continues to trouble me most.
Veronica (and at least all parties seem to agree on her name, unlike some cases where the child is given different names by the competing parties) is four year old. Continue reading
The last of my really sporadic posts concerned a new story about Liam Burke, a child born a little under a year ago. His mother–and here I mean the woman who gave birth to him who is also his legal mother and his social mother–is Kelly Burke. The embryo that became Liam was transferred to Kelly’s uterus after it had spent 19 years cryogenically preserved. (You can just go read the post, if you like.)
Anyway, the story has surfaced again and this time a couple of other things struck me. In fact, I found echoes of the issues raised by the more recent post about the underground market for children.
Here’s the thing. The embryo in question was given to Kelly Burke by a couple who had created these embryos 19 years earlier when they were having children. Continue reading