Can We Refuse To Play A Zero-Sum Game?

This is really a extension of the thoughts I began to develop in the last post, which are themselves the product of a thoughts spread over many earlier posts.    You might do well to read the immediate preceding one to get into the line of thinking.

As anyone who is reading this knows, I am generally a proponent of legal recognition for families as they actually exist, by which I mean as children actually experience them.   (This is a functional family or de facto approach if you want to poke around in the tag cloud.)    By contrast, many commenters on this blog favor instead a system that recognizes those who are genetically related to a child–particularly the immediate male and female progenitors.

There’s been a great deal of discussion/debate here on the relative merits of each approach in a wide variety of settings.   (Recent examples can be found here and here.)     And obviously none of this is very controversial if the progenitor and the social parent are one and the same person.

What I started to think/write about last time about whether this discussion really has to be a zero-sum game.  Isn’t it possible to describe a dual system of recognition–one that includes both progenitors and social families?   The key would be defining the rights and obligations that people in each category get.

This is the problem with what we do now.    We have it set up as all or nothing–you are either a legal parent, and you get ALL the rights and obligations, or you are not a legal parent and you get none of them.   In this structure, if the genetic progenitor gets to be the legal parent she/he can completely obliterate the rights of the social parents.   Alternatively, if you recognize the social parent as the legal parent then that person can completely exclude the progenitor.

Now there are reasons why we have it set up as a zero sum game.    We have a system of strong parental rights.   One of the most important parental rights is the ability to decide who the child spends time with–and equally important who the child does not spend time with.    In other words, a legal parent can exclude any non-parent from the child’s life.    It is hard to give rights to a person who is not a legal parent–because doing so inevitably diminishes the freedom of the legal parent to make decisions as she or he sees fit.     And the end result is this all/nothing model.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you have a more moderated view of legal parental rights/obligations, then you can have some rights/obligations vested in social parents and some rights/obligations vested in progenitors.   That’s what I was thinking about in that last post, really.

The question I’m thinking about now is whether there are some rights/obligations that have to be shared between those folks or whether you could just look at the pile of rights/obligations and divvy them up.   To be more concrete, you could say that both progenitors and social parents have obligations to provide financial support for a child (that’s the sharing approach) or you could decide which person go that particular obligation (that’s divvying up).   And you could do some of both–some shared obligations (like support) but other rights that are exclusively assigned to one or the other category of person.

Of course, the process of allocating the rights would be a controversial one.   But it does seem to me it is the alternative to the zero-sum game and as such, it might be a better idea.




29 responses to “Can We Refuse To Play A Zero-Sum Game?

  1. An interesting article and not one we could ever really resolve as families are so different- individuals have different capacities for actually fulfilling roles. So we could mandate something but it wouldn’t actually happen. You cant actually make people fulfill a moral obligation eg be a good parent and put a child first- if they do not have that ability. So we do need to look at the law and also look at how people actually behave, and try to work out something that will protect all parties (especially children) as much as possible- allowing for different solutions for different families. Not easy.

    Some biological parents have little ability to parent well- and some social parents have great capacity for love, nurturing and understanding etc- and make great parents. So regardless of title- whether legal or biological parent (or both) what actually happens – the experience the offspring have- can be very different. Not all adults should have the right to be a parent as they aren’t even able to meet their own physical and emotional needs let alone those of a child. But we cant do anything about that- people can be parents if they want to be. And if we are going to say one group ‘shouldn’t be parents’ then we have to really look at the whole of society. No-one could make those decisions- other than in extreme cases where the courts do decide that the parent (biological or social – or both) is unfit. As we know however children can be abused to extremes, especially verbally and yet nothing can be done. A recent story in Australia caused a stir when a biological mother decided to make her 10 year old child sit alone away from the family with Shrek ears on and a sign saying ‘Don’t trust me I’m a thief and will steal from you’. When he tried to take the ears off she was apparently heard to yell ‘put them on or I’m smack your head in’.
    As a child behaviour advisor and family coach I was appalled- however most comments regarding this were in support of the mother, who was apparently doing her best to teach him not to steal sweets from a local shop again.
    As I said, biology doesn’t make you a good parent. She can humiliate her child as much as she wants and no-one can actually do anything. Being with your biological parent is not always in the best interests of children but it happens everywhere. Many would have had a far better life not being raised by the biological parent.
    We need to keep it simple and have birth certificates honouring the biological parent/s by having them listed- but also the legal parents. Often they are not the same. And often that can be a great thing.

    I too find it interesting that so many comments on your blog are from people who seem to think biology somehow ‘trumps’ the parents raising the child. I suggest they speak to the children themselves.
    In my experience children and adults want this information as it is about themselves and most are interested in knowing more about themselves- however it is generally only when the DC people have poor parenting from one or more of the other biological and/ or social parents that they have a yearning for this biological person to be ‘Daddy’ or “Mummy’. Most who have had good parenting will always consider those raising them as their ‘family’- but want to know information, and often to meet them- but not to find a ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mummy’.
    What matters is that everyone has information about themselves- ideally have the opportunity to meet that person if they wish (and ideally the other person wants that too) and that they have great parenting. Those great parents can be biological, social or both.
    So in legal terms we do need to show both- or that they are one and the same- as this honours the child and who they are.
    Yes, if a man creates a child without a pre-agreed understanding that they are to be a sperm donor, then they should have certain responsibilities- such as child support etc. And can take on the care of the child if this is what they want, and they want to take legal action – in which case they would fight for parental responsibility. However if a social parent wishes to take on this role then the man should be able to relinquish these responsibilities – however would always still be named on the birth certificate. In practice we want the child to get the most they can with regards to a safe and secure childhood and also to have acknowledged who they are in all senses of the word. If a social parent is willing to take on that role and the biological parent doesn’t want it, we need to look not at what is ‘right’ but at what helps the child.
    In every individual case I would want to look at what is best for the child.
    With sperm donation it is fairly straight forward as they should be on the certificate as biological parent, but it was pre-agreed that they would not have parental rights. However one would hope that they would choose to donate to a woman or couple – whether straight or same sex – who are likely to offer them great parenting. And with sperm banks they have no choice. (again back to why I don’t support commercial assisted reproduction per se) My focus in on the parenting the child receives – I don’t care if biological or social. So rather than looking at who has the right to what we should look at who is better equipped perhaps. If a biological father is in prison for armed robbery and yet a social father wants to take on parental responsibility would we think the man in prison is still always the best person to be ‘Dad’. Just because its his DNA- and he got his girlfriend pregnant after beating her up one drunken night? Then I find people say’ well that different’. Not its not, its just an extreme case. But showing that it is who the people in a child’s life are as people- and how they can affect that child- that is the main issue. We need to make parenting more accountable- at the moment it isn’t. When people tell me that infertile couples, same sex couples, single women etc don’t have the right to have a child- in the interest of the child- I would love to show them examples of why they are actually better parents than the groups they insist on supporting. That large group ‘fertile, straight and married’. People are individuals- those who can parent well deserve to have children. Period. And we can not therefore propose to make one set of people have certain obligations and expect that it will actually work well for all.

  2. Quote
    ‘When people tell me that infertile couples, same sex couples, single women etc don’t have the right to have a child- in the interest of the child- I would love to show them examples of why they are actually better parents than the groups they insist on supporting’

    My apologies – I meant why they ‘can’ be better parentsl Of course not in all cases. But there is no hard and fast rule.

  3. There was also a recent case in Australia where the social mother has replaced the biological father on the birth certificate, as legal parent. Without this change she had no legal standing- and the arrangement had been (prior to conception even) that the two mothers would be raising the child. He was to be an ‘uncle’ type figure in her life.
    Had this been an infertile married couple I dont think there would have been such media coverage- as people would expect the social father to be the legal father. (and at the moment only 2 names can be on the certificate) However what interests me is that the media have portrayed this man as a doting father and who should have more rights as a parent than the social mother (the lesbian partner) and people have been supporting him as the social mother isnt biologially connected. However they do not realise that he refused to see his child for about 6 months. I wrote an article about this- ie ‘when does a sperm donor become a father?’. I again spoke of ‘father’ being a ‘doing’ word ie actually being a good parent.
    This case again highlighted to me that what is most important is who is ‘parenting’ well- rather than who is the biological parent. He is apparently so angry that his name is not on the certificate now- angry at the mothers not the legal system who does not permit his name to be there as well- that he has said he wants nothing to do with them. Including his daughter. The social mother however is consistently loving and caring for the child. So who ‘deserves’ more recognition? When push came to shove who is still there loving and caring for the child? The biological mother and social mother are wanting him to continue to be her ‘father’ but he is the one who is now turning his back on her. I hope he has a change of heart and is able to put his daughter before his anger at her mothers. But in reality many cant.
    So who ‘deserves’ to be her parents? You can never make that judgment without knowing the facts in each case- and putting the child’s needs first. So, again, we have to be careful in legally manadating things regarding families and in practice they dont alwsys protect the child.

  4. julie both my arms are broken. no longn sentences. you must identify the bio parents first for the record and document their express consent to allow others to raise their bio child. we know bio parents did not traffick their own children to themselves but must question the ethics any time a non bio person hs possession of a child nd wants to call themselves the childs parent. were the bio parents cooerced or paid or did the non bio people pay an intermediary? this documentation lacks in gamete donation but the child still has bio parents….it matters not tht what was donated was an egg in the end the ethical quandry is the same did they consent were they paid? the child is still loosing crare by its bio parent. this is still a loss for the child and out of respect non bio parent should have signed proof that the bio parent did agree to the process and not wnt to raise the child.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your arms. Take it easy.

      You know I disagree about the bio parents point, though, right? I mean, this is the core of what you and I disagree about. I would not give the man with the biological connection but no other role in the child’s life this sort of power. I don’t think the child is “his” in a way that means he gets that authority. And as I say, I think this is the heart of what we disagree about.

  5. I agree that every child should know the factual circumstance surrounding the conception and also the granting of legal parenting status.
    Even if these facts are tragic.

    Every bio parent should formally sign away their consent should they not wish to raise the child (or be unable to).

    However we must also try to educate and support all involved so that there could be flexibility in the future that benefits the child, even if we cant legally mandate it eg by faciliating biological relationships before 18 even if the biological parent has legally agreed to no parental rights.

    Yes, we must always question ethics, but primarily how they affect or could affect the child, and accept that the legal system will never effectively cope with that.

    We must also question our perception of what a child ‘loses’. (other than to be able to factually say they are raised by their biological parent/s) It may not be a loss at all, and especially if they have access to the information they want. Each situation is different.

    • of course its a loss. say they are horrid people, is it not a tragic loss that they are horrid people and the child is safer and better cared for than in their own family? say they are ambivlent nd pathetic…is it not tragic and aweful that they are that uncaring and cold and dissinterested that they’d let people they’d never met raise thir child? the child looses out on having a bio family that gives a damn. that’s a hell of a loss no matter what they may end up gaining. the only reason the non bio parent enters the picture is because of a failure on the bio parents part. they loose their own family and have to settle for fictive kin. whenever fictive kin are better than real kin, something sad happened and a child’s own family failed. kisarita is right it is always sad. i too have met many people who have fathers tht were sperm donors. i disagree that they are unhappy due to how they were raised. It has little to do with being lied to, more about being shunned by their fther locked out of the family. not something that can be fixed by being told the truth erly. More something fixed by not doing it. or by sharing custody t lest. full fledged member of the family. the people who make the child need to be proud nd claim the child and include them as family.

    • You seem to agree that if a child is to be raised by someone besides his our her biological parents, there should be signed consent by the bio parents. This is not done with sperm egg and embryo donation and I feel this is imbalance in the law; the child has bio parents that are not raising them just like an adopted child…why are their motives for not raising the child not questioned as in adoption? Were they consulted, coersed or paid? Did the non bio people follow ethical practices?

  6. Emma your hypothetical scenario “what if it was a heterosexual couple than everyone” is not really applicable since in reall life, heterosexual men are unlikely to commision a known, identifiable man to impregnate their wife and pretend to be the kids uncle.

  7. sorry sbt typing both arms are broken

  8. Sorry Ki- I dont understand youor comment. I have hundreds of straight infertile couples who use a FSDW donor – they choose an FSDW donor as they want to have met and chosen the bio father – and vice versa. They want to raise the child but for the child to know of the bio father- and in most cases meet him when they wish. So who they choose is really important as they want this man to be someone who cares about the child and who is someone the child will be proud to now of as their biological father. This is ‘real life’ for me- Ive spent over 8 years educating people that they CAN do this and not have to feel threatened or worry what other people will think (infertile men can feel ‘less of a man’ for not having viable sperm etc)? 8 years educating people that there should be honestly and open disclosure- and proactive faciliation of relationships- social and bio- regardless of what the law ‘allows’ or protects.

    Marilyn (sorry about your arms) anyone voluntarily donating their sperm or eggs or giving up a child for adoption etc sign consents that they are not to raise the child. Its what they do at sperm banks- donate and sign away all rights even before conception. They are saying they want to create a child and not raise the child. (yes, I think its awful)

    I am 100% against commercial assisted reproduction- because my focus is on the child. Im not against assisted reproduction- but I am in its current form- within the commerical arena. I think its appalling that men are encouraged to think that its like giving blood- and not encouraged to think hard about what they are doing- choosing not to raise or be in contact with their biological child. And that those accepting the sperm or eggs (or both) arent helped to realise the wider implications, especially for the child. And why I faciliate arrangements outside of this- where men can choose who to donate to based on how well the woman or couple are likely to raise their biological chld- and a woman or couple who will honour their part- their bioloigcal link. And most actually involve the donor in the child’s life from birth. There is no pretence that he is an ‘uncle’? – only openess and honesty. The child always knows who is their biological father and that he cares- its why he chose that rather than a sperm bank. And many do actually co-parent with single women- actually taking on legal status as well. I want to at least allow for people to make choices that are more ‘child focused’. I want children raised by ‘great parents’ (whether social or bio) and to also know their biological parent/s. Commercial options dont offer that- and why I am adamantly opposed to them. FSDW donors do NOT get paid anything, they donate through AI- their motivation is the child. Most only donate to one or two women or couples. Most of my donors are highly intelligent and caring men who want to help- but also want to know of their biological offspring and to be connected- and often the relationship develops in time according to what he and the child wants- even though the social and bio parent are raising the child in the traditional sense. I want people to look outside the box and seek solutions that can work even though ti means doing things that are often not legally or socially recognised. Single women and lesbian couples are the ones quicker to embrace it- to actually have the ‘donor’ in their lives- a biological donor who often (usually) does turn out to be a ‘father’. It is the infertile couples who find it more difficult because what will society think of their honesty – that they arent hidin ghte fact that they are raising a child even though both oare not biologically connected- and that the bio father is involved. Many cant get their heads around that- and thats why I speak out and support them- because it can work- and children benefit. If you spoke to a child raised by wonderful adoptive parents and they could have the choice of being in contact with their bio parent/s and even meeting and developing a relationship with them while still growing up would you not pressume most would embrace that- at least able to make the choice themselves for what is right for them? Thats why the people need to be involved- people actually meeting one another and thinking of the child. That never happens in commercial practices – the people most important – and connected for life- do not even meet one another. I find it incomprehensible.
    We may disagree on some things- but that many aspects of commercial assisted reproduction are tragic is surely something we agree on.

    • yes the anonymity of a sperm bank means the inseminated woman has no idea if the man impregnating her truly consented – it could be misappropriated from a patient at the clinic who would never have consented to get a stranger pregnant or consented not to take care of his descendants

      • when a sperm donor’s bio children are born he should go to courtt and sign adoption papers and prove he was not paid to do that. so there.

      • This is possible in the same way that it is possible that I go into surgery having consented to have my shoulder operated on and they instead remove my kidney. I didn’t consent to that and it is a very bad way to run a medical practice. But it is (let’s hope) the exception rather than the rule. It’s a mistake and we all know that mistakes do happen. Thus, when a man provides sperm at some sort of reprotech center he does so consensually. And he takes a certain risk (one that might actually have to be disclosed) that it will go astray. And when a woman gets inseminated with sperm she has chosen, she has consented and she takes a small risk that they will have messed up what sperm she uses.

        In either case, the mistreated person has a claim against the clinic–because the clinic screwed up. And I don’t mean to trivialize this. But I think it is unwarranted to say that the actions become non-consensual.

        BTW, I think one probably ought to do a good bit of research before selecting a clinic and I’d hope statistics about error rates are available. Certainly you can (and should) ask about precautions taken to prevent error. Well-run clinics have a host of precautions many of which involve the patient herself/himself verifying that it is the correct sample. It’s not fail-safe–nothing can be–but it sure makes a difference and I think this is something we can all agree on.

  9. I dont hve any broken arms- I simply type too fast!- again I apologise for spelling and gramatical errors:-)

  10. Quote “I would not give the man with the biological connection but no other role in the child’s life this sort of power. I don’t think the child is “his” in a way that means he gets that authority. And as I say, I think this is the heart of what we disagree about.”

    I agree- because to me its not your status or biological link that SHOULD give you ‘rights’ to a child per se. Children deserve more. Many bio parents SHOULDNT be legal parents. But of course we cant legally mandate that- other than in extreme cases of abuse. I think we need to identify biological heritage and legal status- even though the two are often not the same. In an ideal world the biological parent is an amazing person who is not only linked biologically but also spirtually, emotionally etc. In an ideal world Id also still be 25 and skinny:-) We have to weigh up reality and try somehow to protect people through the law. But as Julie said, let us not even consider that biology ‘trumps’ the best parenting the child deserves. Always honoured, yes, but in my ideal world the child knows who they are biologically but also gets to be raised by great parents. And when I see a dead beat father having legal rights to a child – despite a social father actually providing that child will stability, love etc I dispair. However that in most cases is the law. All we can do is keep evolving, and keep questioning what is in the best interest of the child. At all times however understanding that this is a dangerous game- to assume we know what is best for anyone- including children.

    • but you have to id the bio parents first in order to determine if they are unfit. determination of fitness cant be done outside court.

  11. but julie you can’t deny that male bio parents can be guilty of selling parental rights even when they are not legal parents just as they can be found guilty of neglect and abandonment even if they are not legal parents. Say a baby is born in a hotel and the teen parents dispose of their child in a dumpster….neither is named on a birth certificate yet they would be guilty of neglect and abandonment. If those same 2 bio parents took money prior to th birth to give birth at home and allow adoptive mother to say it was her who gave birth they’d be guilty of child selling. The bio male may not be a legal father but he is in a position to exploit and profit from the sale of his bio child….and the non bio parent still needs investigation…you care that he not exploit his position right

    • This seems to me to be sort of scrambled. You convinced me that a man–any man–or even any person at all–can sell a child as to whom they have no parental rights whatsoever. If this person exerts actual control over the child and says “I will give you this child” for ten dollars, then he/she is indeed selling the child. But the key here is that the seller has to have some kind of control. I just made it be actual control–as in physical control. A parent has a different form of control–the legal right to control. I think you can sell that right, too–so I could say “if you give me ten dollars I will give up my legal right to control and instead you can have the legal right to control” then i think I can sell that.

      But I cannot sell my friend’s child over whom I have no legal or actual control. I might be able to con you out of the ten dollars. But I have nothing I can give you that gives you control of the child. I cannot give you the actual control–turn the child over to you. i cannot give you the legal rights. So I cannot really sell that child at all.

      I think you are still assuming that the male bio parent (and I use your terminology because I think it matters that you chose it) necessarily has some right that they can give to someone else. If that person has nothing–not physical control and not legal control–then there is nothing he can sell. Thus, I can generally deny that sperm providers can can be guilty of selling parental rights because they don’t have any to sell. Consistent with that, they cannot be found guilty of neglect or abandonment either–they have no obligations to the child, so they cannot be held responsible for failing to fulfill the obligations. (I cannot be guilty of neglect of my neighbor’s child either.)

      Now there are circumstances/states where a male biol parent does have legal rights and IF he has legal rights, then he may be in a position to sell them. But if he DOES NOT have rights, then there is nothing to sell. Which means we are essentially back where we started: does he/should he have rights, purely by virtue of the genetic link. And we each know what both of us think the answer to this should be, right?

      • we are on the same page now…the male bio parent does not need to be the legally recognized father to be guilty of abandonment does he? No. The state will look for a non legal father before allowing a baby to be adopted, a woman who gives birth at home could sell her rights to an adotive female but never be officially documented as having had rights herself because she sold them.
        the bio dad sold his rights early. Well it says so on the forms he signs i just want him to sign those forms in court after the birth of eacch child. That would cut down on using too much of one guys sperm. If that man was named as father on birth certs and had to do adoptions, you think he’d have gotten to 150 kids?

  12. Im losing track rather of how the last 2 comments link with what Julie said?

    You seem to be arguing with something she hasnt said? Or did I miss something. Obviously time for a coffee break.

    Also find it interesting how my comment “I dont hve any broken arms- I simply type too fast!- again I apologise for spelling and gramatical errors:-)”
    got a thumbs down. Is someone just giving thumbs down because I said something- rather than the comment- or did you take offense at the content of this comment? ……we can often disagree on many points but find some common ground. Dont be too quick to dismiss them. Proactively looking for common ground is often a great starting place for resolution and for understanding:-) Its difficult to change the world in small numbers.

    • Emma I did not thumbs down you on a any of your comments. I did not thumbs up or down me either. I am into content, not form so feel free to misspell as long as you get your point across, I’m here to learn.

      Let me explain my comment more because I am arguing what she’s said. I don’t know why I’d get a thumbs down for my last comment I thought it was well thought out.

      the bio parents must be identified as the parents first before any non bio person if we are going to safeguard children from being trafficked because that starting point is one where you know, a person’s own biological parenthood was not sold to them because it starts with them. Julie feels its not necessary to ID the father and get his consent for someone else to raise a child he creates if he is never legally recognized as father he can’t be guilty of selling his parental rights. I disagree. You don’t need to be a legal parent to be guilty of selling children or selling parental rights – look at Teresa Erickson. All a person needs is the ability to control bio parent behavior.Bio dads are in a position to control their own behavior and therefore could profit off agreeing to not take care of their bio child even if they never attained the status of legal parent.
      So I’m saying not documenting the bio fathers identity and consent is an opportunity for corruption and child selling

  13. This was addressed to me I think ?

    ‘but you have to id the bio parents first in order to determine if they are unfit. determination of fitness cant be done outside court’

    No you dont- not if the bio parents voluntarily gave up any parental rights?

    And my point was that many biological parents who do NOT give up those rights volunatirly still shouldnt be able to ‘parent’ a child if the world was a truly just place- many children deserve more. (I work with a lot of them!) However those kids dont get a choice- unless in extreme cases where there is so much abuse the courts do remove them. Legally the biological parent is protected- at a cost to the child. Just because of biology.

    • Why shouldn’t they voluntarily give up their rights in court as in adoption where their motivations can be scrutinized to safeguard the child from being sold by the bio parent and to ensure the potential non-bio parent goes thru homestudy first? Why do adopted children deserve the states protection before allowing a non bio person to raise them but assisted reproduction kids don’t? So the ability to pay the price is the only guage of fitness thy have to prove? That flies in the face of the whole concept of not buying parental rights. All children deserve the same level of legal protection.

  14. Marylin I didn accuse you of thunbs upping or downing me- I addressed the commend generally to whoever was participating in the comments.

    I was interested in Julie’s article. I have put forward my comments – and showing that there can be some solutions outside of the commercial assisted reproduction ‘realm’ – and for some reason you keep bringing everything round to your same point. Its a little frustrating. Always happy to debate anything, but it has to keep moving forwards?

    Also- who can do the ‘scrutiniziing; you refer to.

    I just dont see that your ideas could be actioned in the real world. Or why.

    Like I said, Im just interested in children- and looking at what we can do to protect them. And this often means different things in different situations.

    I have actually tried to create new options for families and utlimately children. Because I think the kind of things Julie was talking about have merit- even though it is difficult in practice to often action them legally.

    Thanks for your article Julie- I think Ill leave it at that:-)

  15. Sorry Marylinn – didnt see the other comment (I read them from email)

    I do understand what you are saying in many respects – I advise people to trun their backs on commercial assisted reproduction regarding sperm donation (they can- its one of the options you can do outside of their clutches). I actually avoid many of the issues you are talking about through FSDW.
    And agree that much of what is happening under the umbrella of fertility authorities is very scary indeed- ethically.

    “Julie feels its not necessary to ID the father and get his consent for someone else to raise a child he creates if he is never legally recognized as father he can’t be guilty of selling his parental rights.”

    Many dont ‘sell’ their rights- this assumes a payment. Many are not paid.
    However yes- sperm banks and clinics dont tend to highlight that they are not just donating- they are giving away any future rights. The ‘message’ put across by clinics is misleading and self-serving.

    Many do sign away their rights- its what they do when they donate to a commercial facility- they are signing away any rights to any resulting offspring. To me, that is tragic- to sign away rights before ever knowing of a child as a real person, and entering into an agreement whereby you cant ever know- especially with anonymous donations.

    Its often very difficult to combine ethics with the law. My approach I guess is to look at what I think is ethically ‘wrong’ and offer solutions. And although I may be criticised for creating FSDW I see that the bio father is able to be known by all, and involved in the child’s life while still growing up. regardless of who is legally raising the child.

    I do not think anyone should donate without at least choosing who will be raising their biological child. Thats what happens with FSDW. It is not an ideal solution or one that addresses all issues- but its a start. It is a place where men CAN say they refuse to give up their parental rights without having knowledge of who will be raising the child, and on the understanding that they will be known – and usually more. Its where people make choices based on what will happen after conception- not just the conception itself.

    • so the only thing that is missing from your scenario is court approval/oversight. It really should be handled as adoption. How the man came to be the bio father should be irrelevant.

  16. There’s a snippet here i agree with–How a man comes to be the “bio father” should be irrelevant. The rights are not dependant (or should not be dependant) on the sperm delivery system.

    But then we part company. I say no rights and you say full rights. Oh well. Nice to travel with you for a little bit of the road.

  17. I dont understand how you think anything relating to the sperm donation process (commercial) has or could have anything to do with adoption, or that his motives should be considered. The majority of men who donate know what they are doing and choose it. Recipients are also choosing this. The only ones not choosing this are the children.

    Choosing the sperm donor route (commercial) means all are choosing to recognise the man as a sperm producer, not a father.

    “Why shouldn’t they voluntarily give up their rights in court as in adoption where their motivations can be scrutinized to safeguard the child from being sold by the bio parent and to ensure the potential non-bio parent goes thru homestudy first? ”

    Why would anyone care about the motives of someone who has chosen to be a donor? They are choosing to help someone build a family – or perhaps just want the money if paid and really dont care- and dont want those rights. Surely that in itself could automatically give a verdict of unfit:-) So I guess we could (with that logic) just assume all who give up those rights without even knowing anything about the bio parents and child be automatically classified as unfit. So no need for all to be scrutinized?? – or to spend tax payers money on making those kinds of judgements that are in practice irrelevant.

    “Why do adopted children deserve the states protection before allowing a non bio person to raise them but assisted reproduction kids don’t? ”

    Why do children raised by biological parents not have the same either?- we dont do home studies on biological parents either, to deem them ‘fit’. Which was my earlier point. Id rather focus on educating every parent- regardless of how they arrived at that title- to help them be better parents. The only group that are ‘scrutinized’ by the court system are potential adoptive parents- and dont get me started on how ridiculous that process is for many- with children staying in foster care while someone takes over a year to decide the people who want them as forever families are ‘fit’. Children dont win there either- and than goodness those processes are finally under review in some countries eg in the UK where the focus is shifting to finding children homes rather than ‘perfect’ homes (according to the ideas of others) We know from research how biased many who make these decisions are- especially with regards to inter-racial adoptions. Love doesnt see colour- but many social workers placing children do….sorry, I did get started lol

    “So the ability to pay the price is the only guage of fitness thy have to prove? That flies in the face of the whole concept of not buying parental rights. All children deserve the same level of legal protection.”

    You cant buy parental rights from someone who doesnt have them.

    There are very few people in this world who have to prove any level of fitness- why target parents of DC children? Any how can we every truly judge? What is our criteria? I know many low income families with little education who are amazing parents- and many who seem to have ti all (on the furace) but have very poor emotinoal intelligence- and give children – emotionally- a very poor childhood. Even surrounded by luxury and parents who apparently tick all the boxes? How can we really give a person that role and expect them to separate their own ideas of what makes ‘good parents’ with what that child in that family will need. All are differernt. So focusing on making decisions based on what someone thinks will be best fo children is a very dangerous game.
    You would be far more effective in changing society by focusing on helping all would-be parents learn how to meet their own needs, and how to meet the spiritual, emotional, social etc needs of their kids.

    You talk of motives and ethics but this cannot ever work in practice- so we muddle through as best we can. Id like to see commerical options changed radically- until then I find other options.
    When we look at the wider picture of what is actually happening with children around the world I would rather focus on them- and do what I can to support all families. Whatever their motives- whoever they are- even if they supposedly ‘bought’ a child- its happening, it will always happen- and it doesnt mean that child wont have an amazing life? Just as being raised by your biological parents doesnt guarantee anything.
    Its all about educating people- and offering alternatives- so that even if there are options available they dont have to choose them. But if we judge them all with a very black and white view we are forgetting that we are all human beings and very few could live lives and make every choice that is ethically (according to our own ideals) sound.
    Sometimes I guess we need to focus on the reality and making it better- rather than talking of philosophy – or making assumptions about what a group of people are doing.

    I would be very concerned about who would be making judgements about motives and ‘suitability’ is what I think you are proposing would be put into practice.

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