This hooks back to an earlier post about one of two de facto parentage cases decided by the WA Supreme Court just before Thanksgiving. In that earlier post I began to discuss one of the cases (In Re BMH). But there’s an interesting dissent in that case and there’s a second case–In Re AFJ–which also has a dissent. Beyond that, much to my surprise the Seattle Times made the question of de facto parentage the subject of their lead editorial today. All of this makes me return to the topic. And indeed, it may take more than one additional post to get through all this.
I will not rehearse the discussion of the main opinion in BMH as you can just go read the earlier post. And before I consider the dissents–which raise some similar issues in both cases–I want to walk through AFJ. If I have space after that in this post, I’ll get to the Seattle Times editorial. (Looks like that will be in the next post–sorry.)
AFJ has atypical facts. It involves two women, but it’s not a lesbian-couple-who-decide-to-raise-a-child case. Continue reading
I’m continuing on a question I got to last time, though the real genesis of this line of discussion is further back. I won’t retrace all the steps as you can just go back and read them over. I’m thinking about a hypothetical (which I quoted in full) that was posed by the Justice Bosson in a concurring opinion in Chatterjee v King.
Put briefly, the question is why should we worry that a step-parent might get to claim rights as a de facto parent? (You could ask this same question about a foster parent. The discussion would perhaps be different so I will not include it here.) In the terms of the hypo from the concurrence, why should we worry that Man might claim rights to the child over Mother’s objections? Continue reading
Though I’m on the fly I wanted to take a few moments to comment on this story from yesterday’s NYTimes. Here’s the heart of the matter: Various agencies in Illinois (and many other states) place children with foster and adoptive parents. They receive state money for this service. In order to get state money, the recipient must comply with state anti-discrimination provisions. One thing this means is that the recipient of state funds must agree to consider lesbian and gay couples as applicants. It cannot ban them as a group simply because they are lesbian/gay.
Historically, one recipient of state funds for these sorts of placements–and an important one–is Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities will not consider lesbian and gay couples–they are uniformly barred. The bar arises from church teachings that lesbian and gay relationships are necessarily bad. The catagorical bar conflicts with Illinois law, and rather than consider lesbian and gay couples, Catholic Charities has chosen to shut its offices. Continue reading
Earlier today I put up a post about a NYT story that may or may not have been timed to coincide with Father’s Day. This story clearly is clearly posted with the day in mind.
Adrien McLemore is described in the headline as ‘an accidental dad,” but really, his parental role is anything but an accident. Continue reading
I’ve had a bunch of posts recently about Florida’s law barring lesbian and gay people from adopting. It’s come up as a political issue as well as a legal one.
Three different trial courts have approved lesbian/gay adoptions in specific cases. Now one of those cases has been decided by an appellate court. Like the lower court, the appellate court found the statute violated the constitution (that would be the Florida state constitution) and struck down the restriction, allowing the adoption to stand. Continue reading
Last week I only did the briefest of notes on the recent decision in Arkansas invalidating a statute that barred individuals cohabiting outside of marriage from becoming adoptive or foster parents. I want to return to the topic for a few more moments. Here are some links to other coverage in print and in blogs. For a detailed analysis of the opinion (which I won’t do) you cannot do better than Professor Art Leonard’s blog.
At the outset, I should note a mistake in my earlier discussion that ended up leading to some off-track discussion in the comments. By its very terms, the law prohibited people in non-marital cohabiting relationships from adoption or fostering. Thus while the discussions on the difference between adoption and fostering might be interesting, they aren’t pertinent here, since someone in the identified class cannot do either one.
I want to examine the operation of the statute and the construction of the case challenging it. It’s a fine example of a general statute confronted with a specific situation. Continue reading
I’ve got a variety of short little things I’ve been meaning to note. (It always seems like I’m slightly behind these days.) At the risk of eliciting groans of despair, I wanted to briefly note this item. Once again Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets, is in the news. It just never ends, does it?
I’ve written about her story any number of times in the past. It’s hard to imagine anyone making a better case for the regulation of ART. It does seem that perhaps she should not be in charge of eight children, or fourteen children or maybe even a single child.
But the main reason she’d be subject to regulation is that she used ART and there is something seemingly reasonable about regulating access to medical procedures. But it seems to me she’d be just as good (or just as bad) a parent if she had conceived via intercourse. Continue reading
I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday weekend. This is just a quick post between errands and eating.
Yesterday my local paper (the Seattle Times) featured this story as a part of their holiday fundraising series. It seems to me it is a tribute to the resilience of children and the capacity of people to love and care for children. Sharon Cormier is an admirable parent–to the child she is biologically related to, to the children she has chosen to embrace through adoption, and to the children she raised and is raising as a foster parent. Her’s is in many ways an extraordinary family and reminder to us, I think, that families come in all sorts of shapes and forms. Somehow the law has to be flexible enough to recognize and support that diversity.
I know I’ve got an ongoing thread to work on and that the NYT magazine has a big story on DNA tests and fatherhood coming out tomorrow, but I feel compelled to take a couple of little detours here. First, here’s a story from today’s Seattle Times. It celebrates the transition of 175 foster kids in Washington to adoptive kids.
It’s just worth stopping to note why this is so important. Foster parents are great, but they are not full legal parents. As the article makes clear, they do not have full and permanent legal rights. Adoptive parents do. Thus, in order to truly secure a legal relationship to a child, a person must move from foster parent to adoptive parent. And for the kids who are the subject of this article, that’s what happened yesterday.
There’s a recent South Carolina case that is worth some discussion I think. Nancy Polikoff has a discussion of it on her most-excellent blog. She makes many good points, so do go and have a look.
In January, 2007 a child was born with cocaine in his system. The child was immediately placed in protective custody. The state placed him in foster care with a Michael and Lisa P, a married heterosexual couple. A year later, the state asked if the P’s wished to adopt the child. They said no.
In February, 2008 the child was placed with Erin S. Like the Ps, she had been approved by the state as a pre-adoptive foster parent. Erin S. is a single 43-year-old lesbian.
When the Ps found out where the child had been placed they were apparently quite unhappy. Continue reading