Here’s another recent case about legal fatherhood–one I think makes a nice complement to the Virginia case I blogged about recently. This one is from Indiana. I’ll run through the facts quickly first.
Steven and Amy Engelking were married in 2001. Apparently Steven had a vasectomy before they married. The couple consulted a doctor to see if it could be reversed and learned that this was unlikely. As a result, the couple began to investigate the possiblity of using assisted insemination with sperm from another man.
A long-time friend of Amy’s told her that the friend’s husband (SP) would be willing to serve as sperm donor. Steven encouraged the use of SP’s sperm, apparently in part because SP looked like Steven and because SP and Steven shared similar “characteristics and morals.”
Amy ended up doing the insemination at home and in 2004 she gave birth to a son. The process was repeated in 2006 and a daughter was born. Continue reading
Credit to Adopted Ones who caught this right away. The Utah Supreme Court put a hold on the transfer of custody in the disputed adoption case involving Terry Achane that I’ve been following. Though this is obviously incredibly difficult for Achane and the other people closely involved, it’s a bit early to make too much of it. If the Utah Supreme Court wants to take a look at the case–even a quick look–I’d expect them to put everything (like changes of custody) on hold for at least a short time.
If the Court thinks there’s any real issue here I would expect it to continue the stay while it reviews things. If it doesn’t, it could dissolve the stay in a day or two. No way to tell yet, I don’t think.
I’ve been following a case from Utah for some time now. You can read those earlier posts but the basic outlines are simple.
Terry Achane was married and his wife was pregnant. She wished to give the child up for adoption and he did not. When the army moved him from Texas (where they lived) to South Carolina the wife stayed behind. Eventually, she went to Utah to give birth. Utah law grants very limited parentage rights to unmarried men and, though Achane was married, it seems that the wife took advantage of this feature. (The marriage was apparently ending.) She placed the child for adoption and the little girl ended up with a couple named Frei. It took Achane some months to locate the child but in time he did and in October a court affirmed his rights as a legal parent. By that time the child was around 20 months old.
In terms of remedy going forward, the problem is that, rightly or wrongly, Achane is a total stranger to the child. Continue reading
The past several posts have focused on a recent adoption case from Utah. I’m going to assume people are up to speed on the basic facts and the outline of the discussion here. I’ve two more points to add to the conversation–one a news update (courtesy of TAO) and the other a further consideration of the legal issues raised here.
First the news: As The Adopted Ones Blog says, the agency involved in the Achane case is apparently under investigation in Utah. It’s actually a tad misleading to say “agency” as the article notes that the corporation has done business under at least eight different names. Thus, I’m sure to many people it appears to be agencies.
Two things here are particularly striking to me: First, the same entity faciliated five of the controversial and litigated adoptions of children born to unmarried women akin to ones we’ve discussed here. Continue reading
I wrote about a recent Utah case yesterday and that post has attracted a lot of comments. I haven’t had the chance to read them all (and I’m a bit worried about the tone of some) but the ones I have read have gotten me thinking more about the case. I thought I’d do a second post on it partly because reading through too many comments becomes unwieldy. This way people can spread them out. But I will write here assuming you have already read yesterday’s post, so if you have not you should go do so.
I’m sure it is the contrarian in me, but first I want to think about this from the Frei’s point of view. These are the adoptive parents who are seeking to keep the child and everyone has jumped all over them in the existing comments.
I actually can imagine why their side of the story appeals to some people, and if you all can’t I think you should try harder. It’s important to try and take other people’s points of view even when you don’t like them. Continue reading
We’ve had many conversations about Utah and its adoption law here. (One of these was actually very recent.) There’s a new case that really does (in the words of TAO) take the cake.
Utah has a strong public policy (expressed by the legislature) in favor of having children raised in married heterosexual families. Thus, it is extremely willing–there are times one might be tempted to say eager–to promote adoptions where there is a single mother and it is concomitantly stingy in its recognition of parental rights in unmarried men. After all, if the men have parental rights then it some due process would be required before the rights could be terminated. It’s much easier to engineer adoptions if the unmarried man has no legal parental rights.
Anyway, here’s a recent (and frankly appalling) case an insupportable extension of that practice. Continue reading
I’m taking a detour from ongoing conversation here to write about a case currently pending in Virginia. It was argued before the Virginia Supreme Court this fall and should be decided in the new year. This being the case, I think it is worth taking a few moments to sum it up. It is one of those cases that falls (or nearly falls) between the cracks in various statutory structures. You can read the lower court opinion or this blog post, too, if you want more info.
Billy Breit and Beverly Mason were a long-term cohabiting couple. They weren’t married–which turns out to be a very important detail. They wanted to have a child. Intercourse alone did not work so they consulted a fertility doctor. The doctor used Breit’s sperm to fertilize eggs extracted from Mason and then transferred to resulting embryo into Mason’s womb. In time this worked and a child (Lillian) was born on July 13, 2009. Continue reading
Many important things happened on Election Day. Among them, Washington State voters (as well as those in Maine and Maryland) approved measures giving same-sex couples access to marriage.
This is an important first–all the other states that allow same-sex couples to marry got there by court action or by legislation. Further, those opposed to access to marriage had won something like 30 straight state-wide referenda on the topic. (Most of those were adoptions of statutes or constitutional amendments restricting access to marriage.) Somehow winning access via a vote of the people–the purest measure of majority sentiment–seems noteworthy.
It’s clear that the path to marriage in these states–as in all the others–runs through parenthood. Continue reading
Although surrogacy is not exactly rare, it also isn’t all that common. And yet it’s often covered in the news. And when it comes up here (as it has in the last couple of posts) it always spurs discussion.
I think it is because it raises so many issues and forces us to unpack so many assumptions. It crystallizes a bunch of questions about motherhood that I wrote about not so long ago. And it makes us think hard about gender/sex and sameness/difference. And really, of course, the problem is pregnancy and what we do with it.
Here’s one way to think about this. Under current law in NJ men and woman are treated differently with regard to legal parentage when surrogacy is used. Continue reading
I recently wrote about how marriage and parenthood can become linked. That’s actually a topic that has come up a number of times on this blog. The general idea is that if you think marriage is best for kids (and many people do) that this can become an argument for granting same-sex couples access to marriage. After all, they have kids and why not do the best we can for these kids. The early post (and the others referred to) talk about how this linkage can be problematic.
But though I haven’t talked about it, you can also run the links the other way round. So here is an article from today’s NYT. The idea here is that once a same-sex couple (here a gay male couple) gets married, people start to ask you about when you’ll be having kids. Continue reading