Jason Patric May Be A Father–And Here’s Why

As you may have read elsewhere, the appellate court in California has ruled on the parentage case brought by Jason Patric.  (You can get to the opinion from this page if you look under opinions issued on May 14.).  The papers paint this as a victory for Patric, which is correct, but they also (at least the headlines I’ve seen) get the details wrong.

I’ve written about this case before and it’s certainly gotten it’s share of media coverage.  I won’t recite the facts (which are sharply contested) in any detail, but it’s interesting and important to read the facts as recited by the court.  Critically, Patric provided sperm for the insemination of Danielle Schreiber.   The pregnancy resulted from insemination.   And after the birth of the child (Gabe) Patric developed a social/psychological relationship with Gus.   (This very barebones version of the facts may actually be consistent with both sides’ versions.)

So the court said several important  things.  First, the fact that Patric provided the sperm doesn’t make him a parent.   It also doesn’t give him the right to establish any particular relationship with the child.   (That’s footnote 10 and is a point that Patric conceded.).

Second, the fact that Patric provided sperm doesn’t preclude him from using California law that would be available to anyone else–law that allows for a claim of parentage based on the actual relationship with the child.   Under California law (Section 7611) a person who establishes a familial role with a child may assert that she/he is a presumed parent.   Patric isn’t barred from using this section just because he’s a sperm donor.

Third, the precise nature of the social/psychological relationship between Patric and Gus is crucial and hasn’t been determined.   (This is because the trial court barred Patrick from using the 7611 route.). Thus, Patric may be a presumed parent, but it depends on the specific facts, and those fact will be determined in further proceedings.

This all makes perfect sense to me.   Patric’s status as a genetic relative of Gus is essentially irrelevant.  It doesn’t give him rights as a legal father nor does it bar him from establishing rights in the same way that someone who was not genetically related would be allowed to do.   The law of parentage in CA doesn’t give any weight at all to genetics in a situation like this.

There’s a final point the court makes that I think is noteworthy.   After concluding that Patric has the chance to use 7611, the court notes:

Our holding that a sperm donor is not precluded from establishing presumed parentage does not mean that a mother who conceives through assisted reproduction and allows the sperm donor to have some kind of relationship with the child necessarily loses her right to be the sole parent.

(page 12).  The court goes on to explain that she can limit the contact allowed and that, further, 7611 only gives you a presumption of parentage–one that can be rebutted based on other evidence.  I’m not sure what the contours of this are, but it seems clear that it gives those using AI the ability to have sperm providers who are known to their children but not present as parents.

Some of the media has overstated Patric’s win, I think.   He may be a legal father but he may not be.  What he’s really got is a chance to prove his facts.

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155 responses to “Jason Patric May Be A Father–And Here’s Why

  1. I am pleased that he may become the legally recognized child of his father because he would be on equal footing with the rest of society whose father’s are held accountable for their care and support when they are minors. He should have access to his family’s vital records and the right to whatever benefits flow from legally recognized kinship within his father’s family.

    I will never understand why courts entertain the idea that people can privately contract themselves out of their personal responsibility for the minor children they put on this earth. How does letting one parent off the hook legally and financially benefit that parent’s child? The issue is not whether a person can raise a happy, healthy, well adjusted child without the other parent around…tons of people do it all the time, but it’s less than the minor is owed and deserves to receive from the individuals that placed them in that compromised position of dependency. Sure they can get by with one of their parents being absent, but why should they have to when other minors have the law seeking out their biological fathers and mothers and holding them fully accountable for their actions? Why should they have to settle for having step parents named as their legal parents when they could just have their parents named as their legal parents because they would not have to give up the care and support of their parent’s spouses either, that’s why there is the legal category of step parent. What is the point of letting even one person with offspring, off the hook for their care and support?

    It’s great this kid might get to have a relationship with his father and legal recognition as a member of his paternal family to boot, you know because that’s how the law protects the vast majority of minors in this country especially when their parents are not married to one another. These antiquated views that a child whose parents are unmarried is less human and deserves fewer rights, really need to be changed. It’s all set up so that people who want to have kids but can’t can get people to make and abandon one especially for them to keep as if they were their own. They alter their identities, sequester them from their families, sever their kinship, falsify their medical records and make them over into the child they always wanted – and justify their actions suggesting that they are in no different a position than a biological parent would be and they stand on the shaky technicality of being present at the person’s birth as if that changes the fact that they are falsifying records, sequestering them from their families etc. They were there at birth and so it’s like a free pass to destroy a person’s life. They cannot be allowed accurate records, or they would not have to pretend to be someone they aren’t after they were 18 or even before they turned 18. They cannot know who their relatives are nor can their relatives know who they are because they might go to them rather than stay and pretend and play people want them to play. They are expected to provide a return on a substantial financial and emotional investment. Kid’s like Jason Patrick’s son have to be considered created differently in the eyes of the law so they won’t fit that constitutional criteria of being created equal with everyone else because if they were considered created equal they’d deserve due process and equal protection and as I mentioned before they would be less inclined to work and serve the people who paid for them if they were treated equally with others.

    How can someone exert control over someone after they turn 18? Hold their records hostage, which restricts their freedom by altering their identities and preventing them from pursuing relationships with their own family members. You know how they say one of the signs of an abusive relationship is if the person tries to keep you from seeing your friends and family right? Well there is a neon sign if there ever was one. Look at poor Jason Patrick’s kid sequestered from his family, withheld, ties attempted to be legally and permanently severed by denigrating the quality and value of important people in his life who love him. Looks abusive from here, fits the classic mold. In fact any person who sequesters a kid from their bio parents rather than working with the bio parent to give the kid everything they deserve is falling into that abusive relationship control behavior they make bus stop posters about for bad neighborhoods and school campuses and free clinics.

    • Nothing in this case (as decided by the court) has to do with private contract or agreements. There are two principles of law operating. One is statutory–a man who provides sperm for the insemination of a woman not his wife is not a legal parent in CA. That’s not because of a contract between them. The other principle is basically also statutory–a person who acts as a parent (whatever that means) for enough time may acquire some rights.

      I think your gripe is with the first provision discussed above. And we’ve discussed that plenty. You don’t like those laws. and I do. Not much more to say. on that.

      • Yes the contract would be between him and the clinic not her. Different from egg donors. Although many people who enter into these known donor situations do so with lawyers and agreements. The internet is littered with standard form agreements to use as templates.

        • No–it’s not because of a contract between the clinic and the provider. The result (that a man who provides sperm for insemination is not a legal parent) is simply the result of the operation of law. It’s not up for grabs between clinic and provider to agree as they choose.

          The problem with the internet is that it often doesn’t tell you anything about the state law. All those forms aren’t worth much in most states–but you wouldn’t know that. In CA (as in WA) the man is not a legal father because that’s the legal rule. You could have a legal rule that depended on a contract–some states do. But CA and WA do not.

      • I agree Julie. What annoys me about this case is that it’s called a sperm donor case when in reality it isn’t. This is a custody case nothing more.

        • i agree with you but its actually the California law that considers him a sperm donor.

        • It’s not a custody case UNLESS Patric is a legal parent. If Patric is not a legal parent then there is no custody case. There is simply a child with one legal parent who can do as she likes. So it really is a parentage case.

          What the media has gotten wrong is that his parentage will turn on the actual social/psychological relationship between Gus and Patric, not on his status as a donor. In that sense it isn’t a donor case.

          But then (as I think someone has noted further down), if the pregnancy had been the result of sex he clearly would be a legal father. In that sense, I suppose, you could see this as a sperm donor case.

  2. This kid is being thrown a bone – the opportunity to make his case and possibly get to be recognized as the child of his own father. Luckily for this person the mother does not have a spouse or lover she’s all twiterpated over wanting to make her kid their kid too, trying to cut the kid’s ties with their own family as some kind of gift or award to the person she’s sleeping with so that her kid can craft for her a grand facade for her game of charades with the world playing the roll of the child their mother had with a much loved partner rather than some random guy she never met and does not care about. I’m learning that kids have not stood a chance when their mothers are hell bent on pretending the kid has no father or family so she can pretend that she and her partner had a child together and that her partner is her child’s other parent. Probably the only reason this kid might get to thwart his mother’s destructive efforts is that she has not presented anyone else she likes better for the job.

    It’s like the law completely disregards that cutting a kid off from his family will outlast the kid’s childhood and impact his life and the life of his relatives for ever.

    • I wish you wouldn’t be so dismissive and judgmental. The lower court misapplied the law. the appellate court corrected it. Now the lower court gets to try again. We still do not know the nature of Patric’s social/psychological relationship with Gus. That’s the next thing the lower court has to decide.

      I get that you do not like CA law. You think the genetic link should guarantee a legal relationship. But I don’t think you realize that the words you choose to say this can be very hurtful to people and frankly, drive many away from the blog. Please try for some temperance.

      • Julie I will be nice. I always only stick to the facts – reading your blog taught me not to venture into concepts of morality and belief systems and all that. So when I respond to her below. I’m challenging her on the facts if not in her situation directly at least as they are in a vast majority of standard commercial arrangements.

        • The problem is that your words often come across (whether intentionally or not) as extremely judgmental. And you use words that pack a lot of assumptions in at one place–so when you talk about how a ruling against Patric would separate child and father. You mean child and “genetic father”, I think, for if the ruling goes against Patric it will be because he is not a “social father” or a “psychological father.” And as a result of the ruling he won’t be a “legal father.” When you just talk about selfish parents (which you frequently do) who separate kids from their fathers it buries most of the subtlety and looks pretty judgmental. maybe this isn’t about intention, but is about language–yet it’s both real and important.

  3. Concerned DE Mom

    Marilynn —

    I have to tell you how utterly your inflammatory rhetoric has turned me off to listening to anything you and your conservative friends have to say on the subject of donor conception. I am a mom by DE and naturally very concerned about what my child will come across when inevitably she turns to the internet. She is the wise, smart, curious child I raised her to be, and I would expect nothing less of her than to be curious. I am HORRIFIED that she could come across your terms, language and ton. She was not abandoned, sold into slavery, purchased by me, or taken away from her family. I am her family. My husband and I are her family. NO ONE abdicated parental responsibility. The woman who donated her eggs to us was never a parent. In our family we don’t refer to her a donor, because that would dehumanize her. We refer to her as the woman who donated her eggs.

    I could not have had my daughter without this other woman. That is a biological fact. But the woman whose egg gave rise to my child was/is/will never be my daughter’s mother. That is ALSO a biological fact. The miracle of life doesn’t just exist inside an egg…it is a whole process that takes place over 9 months. But for me and my body, the donor’s cell would have been useless and discarded. Just like all the eggs she must shed out her body every month when she has her period. They would have just been waste. It takes both an egg and a womb to create a child. A woman who has a baby via gestational surrogate with her own gamete, is the mother. A woman who has a baby in her own womb with another woman’s gamete, is ALSO a mother. The beauty and wonder of our modern world is that both of these things are possible.

    Your obsession with “vital records” and the CDC etc is all smoke screen. My daughter has her records. I am her mother. She has the relevant medical history. Her family tree and her “kinship” rights are preserved. She has a loving aunt, grandparents, cousins, etc. If you can have kinship by marriage ( a relationship you can legally dissolve) than surely carrying my child and giving her life for 9 months gives me kinship with her. I don’t pretend we have the same DNA but that makes her no less my kin. I wish you would stop literally TELLING woman like me that we are adopted parents – I’ve seen these statements written by you. Some adoptees don’t like this term and thinks it belittles there experience http://tpvedo.blogspot.ca/2013/06/why-embryo-donation-shouldnt-be-called.html

    You are entitled to your “opinions” but that is all they are. And I am entitled to tell you that your “opinions” are harmful — and your determination to preach this opinion of yours as gospel is going to harm the very children you supposedly are advocating for.

    Wait, wait, don’t tell me….I’m “attacking” you. That’s always the defensive posture that’s taken. Even if I am, that’s my free speech in action. And if you come after me and mine with the smear campaign you have against parents via donor conception, I will respond like the fierce mama bear I am. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

    • Dear DE Mom, if you think Marilyn’s opinion is so outrageous than you need not worry about it influencing your daughter.
      As for inflammatory rhetoric your daughter will encounter that pretty much everywhere. in tthe schoolyard, on tv, everywhere.

      • Thanks Ki. If what I’m saying really makes no sense then don’t worry about me and what I think. And my conservative friends what they think – well she has way more in common with them than I do. One of their parents was a gamete donor too I have no idea what that’s like and for the record I am a liberal San Francisco democrat and supporter of same sex marriage and organized religion and prolifers make my shoulder blades touch. Conservative is like a super insult where I’m from. I’m just a staunch advocate for equal rights whatever the topic is. This just happens to be a topic where the rights abuses are massive and I’m exposed to it a lot facilitating reunions and helping people put their families back together. Pick any situation where the law treats people differently unfairly and I’m on board to correct it. Not conservative in the least.

        • You’re ok with a woman terminating a fertilized egg (or perhaps a fetus at at any point in gestation) but not donating it to another woman?

          • well you didn’t address me but i can’t help but wonder what does one thing have to do with the other?

            • I’m pro choice but I couldn’t help but wonder why one would be pro choice if a woman chooses an abortion but she’s “abandoning her offspring” i.e. something negative if she chooses to donate eggs.

              • well i happen to approve of abortion, but not of donation of embryos. I don’t really care about the fate of an embryo that was never and will never be born. But donating an embryo is about creating a child that will be born.
                but i agree with you with regard to the term abandoning ones offspring. i would not use that term because at the time there are no offspring in existence.

                • That’s the thing, one person believes in something while another believes the opposite. There are couples that used their own egg and sperm via IVF and feel that discarding embryos violates their conscience and would rather donate them than destroy them. I just find it interesting that some people believe in abortion or discarding embryos as a moral choice but those that want give birth to new life (children) are unethical.

                  • perhaps i wasn’t clear. the concern isn’t about the embryo itself, its about the human being (s) that result from this embryo. if no human being will result from this embryo than there is no one to be concerned about. I am not of the school of thought that says its always commendable to reproduce no matter what the circumstances- if I was, i’d be against birth control too.

                • Embryo donation/adoption was an option for us but both my wife and I don’t feel comfortable with it. If we were on the other end and could donate our embryos we wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so. With that being said, I don’t have an issue with others who go that route on both sides nor do I judge them for making a decision my wife and I didn’t.

                  I do see how a person could be pro choice but against embryo donation/adoption if they are against the idea of children being raised by parents they have no biological connection to. There’s nothing wrong with that either. While I don’t agree with that stance I do understand that someone could have that stance.

              • If she donates her eggs she’s abandoning her offspring after they are born. She signs a document promising to give up her kids after they are born and then, if she follows through with her promise then she’s abandoned her kids. Aborting a pregnancy is ending a pregnancy there is no kid being abandoned. Egg donors and sperm donors make the promise to abandon at a time prior to their kid’s existence but they keep the promise after their kids exist. How can you even compare the things. Abortion does not hurt a born person.

                Donors are just people who have come to the conclusion that they don’t want to raise all the kids they have over the course lifetime and they are willing to make a few or fifty with strangers to serve in the roll of other people’s kids. They reason that those kids are not as important or special as ones they would have with someone they love. Bastards don’t count they can be given away given new identities who cares they are less of a person anyway.

          • Marilynn found my family. Terminating a pregnancy does not violate anyone’s rights. Nobody is born yet. Subjecting a born person to different rules and fewer rights is not fair – just because of some agreement everyone cuts before the kid is born? Not to snitch and bust out the parent that chicken’s out.

            She found my mother and all that mystery was erased. How anyone could go out of their way to keep a person from their family and think they could sell it to that kid as some part of how they were made different or sell it to them like its such a great thing because of how much one of their parents wants them – it’s beyond me. I think they must know they sound crazy but they just don’t care – they want what they want.

            • I’m glad she was able to help you. But despite her beliefs there is such a thing as a non biological family and it does have value for people.

      • Parents quite often worry about outrageous language, even language that is quite marginalized in societies.

        One of my friends was sat down at a young age and told that at some point in her life she was likely to encounter a specific, inflammatory racial slur. This slur is not used in civil discourse. She did eventually encounter the slur, and her parent’s preparation made it less painful.

        But outrageous rhetoric can be quite hurtful, even if one understands that language is not accepted in civil discourse.

        • “But outrageous rhetoric can be quite hurtful, even if one understands that language is not accepted in civil discourse.”

          Unfortunately this type of stuff becomes common placed in these discussions from the same people.

      • True enough about what you meet in the world, but I would like to keep inflammatory rhetoric (all people’s) to a minimum here if that’s possible.

      • But the great thing is that one can ignore Marilynn but not participating the comment section which I have opted to do 9 times out of 10 because of the vitriol she regularly spews. It was nice to see someone address Marilynn’s repeated rudeness.

        • Problem is, blogs have been destroyed based on the comment sections alone.

          • It depends upon the people involved and the civility of discussion. In many cases Julie and other bloggers have been able to use those discussions to generate new pieces. But there are times when certain people’s agenda’s take discussions off topic and end up ruining intelligent on topic discussions taking place.

        • I watch on the sidelines with all the other people she helps and you all realize that the only people that she’s rude are the people who are perpetrating the crimes against people not raised by one or both bio parents..

          Its way more rude to do what they do that to say what she says.

          • This is a blog that explores legalities and state power.

            You have employed the word “crime.” This is an error of fact. None of these actions, as you know, are crimes.

            Particularly when commenting on the blog of a legal scholar, I suggest you be more precise in your terminology.

            However, you may state: I wish that xyz actions would be prosecuted as a crime.

            If you are arguing that state power ought to be brought to bear on specific actions, it would be helpful to clarify your position. To do otherwise keeps the discourse at the level of inflammatory, emotive (not analytical) rhetoric.

            If you want to criminalize particular actions you should:

            1) State the actions you wish to criminalize.
            2) State the punishment.
            3) State the enforcement mechanism.
            4) Consider any unintended consequences. (Any underground responses? How will you deal with this? How will you patrol and punish the citizenry?)

            The use of state power to criminalize particular actions is not something to be considered lightly.

            You should also consider if your is something the citizenry will accept.

            Otherwise, the nation-state will not pass or enforce your program of criminalization and surveillance.

            • Oh smarty pants you’ll harsh on me for sayin whats a crime is wrong? Why don’t you lay into the Professor for saying that birth certificate is not a medical record? Where is her proof she’s making it up. God why does she talk to you people

          • I am one who has not adopted nor have I conceived a child through 3PR yet she’s been nothing but rude and insulting to me. So I am sorry but you are wrong here.

            Again I’m glad she’s helped you but don’t be blind to her nasty bullying tactics.

    • Hi Concerned DE Mom. I don’t enjoy upsetting you. I am sincerely concerned about the differential treatment that people with estranged parents and falsified medical records are subjected to because it is not fair to them. I have never suggested that they be treated somehow special or better than everyone else, but rather just the same exactly the same. The sum total of all my hemming and hawing is just to resolve the laws that treat them differently than people whose biological parents are not donors. There should be no separate category for bio parents who donate because it results in their children and other relatives being prevented from being treated fairly.

      I’m going to absorb all you wrote and respond point by point. You dropped a bomb on me and I’m not going to retaliate but I will respond and I will pose a few questions as to how you arrived at your conclusions.

      • Okay–so let me point out an example–“falsified medical records.” I would read the implication of that phrase to mean “deliberately falsified medical records.” But where do we have those? That’s incendiary language to introduce when it hasn’t been the topic at all.

        Are you talking about birth certificates? (If not, all the rest here is irrelevant.) I know you think various things are medical records–like the birth certificate. And you know I think they are not medical records. Many others share my view. So how about “what I think of as falsified medical records.” Or you could use some much more neutral language–like “inaccurate birth certificates” if that’s what you mean.

        There is, however, a larger problem for me here. You know the response on birth certificates. The names of the parents listed on a birth certificate are the legal parents, not the genetic parents. You don’t like this I know, but do you understand by know that this is true–even if you don’t like it? This is why a child gets a new birth certificate upon adoption. If you know this, then how can you in good faith keep dredging up this argument? Your argument is not with the people who properly fill out the birth certificates but with the law.

        • Hey your own state law says they are medical records in fact the federal government says they are medical records. They are issued by the department of public health. My medical records are wrong and now I have to with my mother to have them corrected.

        • Spoken like someone that does not have a false medical record. I am an adopted person.. Do you want to argue with me? Your so tough and so smart telling her it’s not a medical record – it was signed by a doctod r and I’m not related to the people named on it and what good does that do me or my relatives? It was done to keep me from finding my relatives and my relatives from finding me – it’s how the system works but if you are not adopted I guess you don’t know what that’s like or what it feels like to be adopited.

          • You are legally related to the people on it, but that said I think the law should change so everyone would be able to access the names of the bio parents if the information is available on the original BC.

            • FWIW, the information on the original birth certificate may not be genetic parents either. The mother is typically the woman who gave birth–but of course, she might not be the genetic mother. And the father would be a man who fit the legal definition–a husband, a man who signed a VAP, whatever. But he, too, might not be a genetic parent.

              If we really want to give kids access to their genetic parents, the only way to do that (I think) is to do genetic testing at birth and put those names on some record or other. Not saying it cannot or should not be done–just giving the child the original BC might not do it.

              • Concerned DE Mom

                I don’t think it should be done (and not just because I am a DE mom). If my daughter wants to do 23andme or FTDNA or the DSR then I will not stand in her way, moreover I would help her. My reasoning is that if we follow the suggestion of genetic testing at birth to it’s logical conclusion, than won’t ALL babies born (genetic or otherwise) need to be DNA tested to confirm paternity/maternity? In order to preserve equality? And it’s not as if the DNA of every person on the planet is in one database so it doesn’t necessarily give definitive answers other than that one parent is not genetically related. In that case, really all that would do is violate privacy rights of the parents and potentially the donor, one night stand, affair, what have you, in order to potentially, supposedly protect the rights of the child? Rights the courts have not actually awarded them? To my knowledge, despite a lot of assertions in the comments, it is not a legal right for all people to know their genetic origins. I could be wrong, is there case law on this? .

                • “it is not a legal right for all people to know their genetic origins. I could be wrong, is there case law on this?”

                  In terms of a constitutional rights, I don’t believe there is any precedent that would suggest people have a legal right to to know of one’s genetic origins.

                  In terms of human history, this concern about genetics is fairly new. In the 21st century genetics and biology is emphasized in a unprecedented way because of genetics and new uses of DNA tests. Biological racism was popular in the late 19th century.

                  I wouldn’t say people were particularly concerned with genetics in 18th- century North America. People were more concerned with the transmission of inheritance, property rights, and the rights of the head of household over his dependents. The legal adoption of a son placed him in line for inheritance in significant ways. He would have been eligible for certain social statuses, marriage partners, and economic opportunities which were seen as more significant markers then biological heritage.

                  Inheritance was not passed down on the basis of primogeniture in North America, but on the basis of legal familial relationships.

                  I’m mark this interest in biological race as a turning point in this interest in biological heritage. As laws were developed around the “one-drop” rule, one’s biological lineage was seen as more significant. The concept of biological race and ethnicity is historical, and it’s related to this rise of interest in genetic origins. It’s hard for us to imagine, but in the 16th and 17th century, kinship lines were seen as crossing racial boundaries in, for example, Native American tribes. People didn’t “see” race and ethnicities in the way that people did in the 18th-21st centuries. Race and ethnicity are invented concepts.

                  I could imagine an alterna-world in which the bacteria lines passed via maternal gestation could be seen as more significant then DNA. After all, bacteria makes up much more of our biology.

                  Personally, I would be worried about a nation that proposed to test every baby for her genetic origins. I would view this proposed state-surveillance of biology as growing out of a concern with race and racial purity. I would prefer that society de-emphasize concerns with biology.

                  • John Howard

                    “In terms of human history, this concern about genetics is fairly new.”

                    Huh? People were stoned to death for committing adultery from Hammurabi up through present day Muslim countries. Adultery is still grounds for fault in divorce. People didn’t just let their wives get pregnant by other men, even if they really really really wanted an heir or some farmhands and kitchen help. If it ever happened it was kept secret because it was a crime, a shameful sinful act, it wasn’t considered no big deal who the father is, it was a very big deal. What is fairly new is the people getting pregnant without having sex, and it not being considered adultery. In the 50’s when the practice was done in secret by doctors, it was still considered adultery.

                • Certainly in the US there is no constitutional right for anyone to know their genetic origins. Some states provide a statutory right in some cases–as when adopted children have a right of access to records when they come of age. But there’s no general right. (I have read arguments that there should be such a right, but I don’t think I’ve even actually seen the argument made in court.)

                  • John Howard

                    Well it hasn’t been possible to know your genetic origins until a few years ago. But the correlation between genetic parentage and legal parentage is so strong, getting it closer to 100% would be hard to do, and it’s enforced by strict moral and legal codes going back centuries, that the idea is surely that one has a right to know one’s identity and be raised whenever possible by one’s genetic parents who created you, and not be willfully separated from them or abandoned by them.

              • Yes, hence the *if*. The original birth certificate won’t give the info they seek 100% of them time but they should be able to access it to see if it does.

          • I think of birth certificates as public records and medical records as private records. But really–does it matter whether we call them medical records or not? It seems to me there are more substantive things to discuss than what we call them.

            As a descriptive matter, birth certificates list legal and not genetic parents. I’m not saying this is right–I’m just describing what they do. This does, as you say, make it harder for people to trace their genetic lineage. I agree that’s a problem–and it is in part why some states have taken action to make information available to adopted people when they come of age.

            If there’s a problem here–and perhaps there is–it is not with the individual adoptive parents who get new birth certificates for their children. They need the birth certificates to register the kids for school and sports and to get a passport and so on. The problem is the way the system is set up–so that birth certificates are what we use to show legal parentage. I’ve said this to Marilynn before–you could have a different system where there were certificates of legal parentage and then separate certificates of genetic lineage–something like a pedigree. Perhaps that is something to work towards.

    • It sounds like you are planning to tell her or maybe you already have. If so that’s great. See a compliment, I’m not all bad. I’m not saying that you are an adoptive mom on the contrary my favorite thing to point out is how the gamete donation process is just a smoke screen for black market adoption. All the tedious time consuming steps that protect minors from being trafficked and sold are skipped by just writing your name on an original birth certificate and because the estranged bio parent agreed to everything prior to the birth of the kid nobody ever even needs to to know about them or the relationship. I can see why it’s gained such mass appeal its faster and cheaper and so much easier to conceal than adoption in court but the end result is the same or better for the person who wants to raise another person’s offspring. So no you did not adopt the child you are raising and that is just one of the ways that people get short changed when one of their parents signed a gamete donation agreement. There is no homes study no vetting of individuals not well suiited to rearing other people’s kids. Generally women who donate never meet the women who are going to be raising their childrfen and I bet they give more thought to finding a place to board their dog while they go on vacation. For the most part donor offspring get told and have to process the fact that their biological parent made a decision to bring them into the world, but did not want to raise them; not because they were too young or too violent or too drug addicted tor too uneducated o handle the pressure of child rearing – cause unlike the people raising the kid the donating party has to go through extensive background checks and psych evaluations and medical tests and screening for drugs and stuff. Nope their estranged bio parent was a squeaky clean well educated person who does not wan t to raise them because they got paid a fee not to raise them. The fact that you gestated a child does not change the fact that the child is not your offspring and that everyone else in society has to go to court if they want parental authority over another person’s offspring. You did not have to go to court because you gave birth to them only it did not change who they are or who they are related to and the only reason why their bio mother did not give birth to them is that you paid her not to. Your kid will at some point seek out the content of a typical gamete donor agreement and all the stuff about them agreeing to relinquish in court in a formal adoption if the agreement is ever determined to be illegal – all that stuff, all those legal phrases about parental responsibilities that keeps reproductive attorneys fat and happy has nothing to do with eggs. If her absent parent had not been willing to agree to all that other stuff you would not have bothered with her egg. You did not want her egg to sit it on a shelf and admire it, you wanted her baby and she followed through with her pre-birth promise when she did not come forward to identify herself as the mother of her own offspring at birth. Now she just has at least 16 more years of service to provide to meet the terms of the agreement. Some contracts don’t expire till both the estranged parent and her offspring are dead and buried. That fee she got before the kid was born is often intended to buy a lifetime of absence and non disclosure.

      I have no interest in attacking you. I think it would be wise for you to think ahead about just exactlty what gamete contracts say to make sure its the same story you gave the kid when you told because otherwise you look like your lying and lying while supposedly telling the truth just ges so complicated. So if you ever tried to say she did not give up a child – just know that she of course had to, you did not kidap her and it was up to her to decide whether or not she’d raise her kid. She decided not to which means she gave her up. Yes abandoned is when you don’t relinquish in court. If the abandonment does not fly the attorn\ies have that back up clause where they’ll relinquish if they have to. What other word is there to use? You are raising this other woman’s offspring, that’s true right? You are not a bad person you got her permission first right? Sure you did. Did you get that permission in court the way people normally do or did she handle that transfer in court? You could say she failed to assume responsibility in accordance with the agreement. I can’t see as using the term abandon is all that inflamitory if the woman has bio kids she’s not raising and never went to court to relinquish them.

      I don’t understand how you can say that the kid is not being kept from her family. Logically you must understand that she has a bunch of relatives that are not in her life. They probably don’t know about her and that is because a fee was paid so that the bio mother would not raise the kid or disclose the relationship. Again nothing inflammatory there. I’m sure that you and your family are fantastic and I do mean that but the complaint is not about what you gave them in terms of family, its about what was taken away from them. Its fantastic that you and your relatives love them. That does not change the fact that they don’t have half their family in their life or on record.

      I know a whole lot of people with estranged parents I know a whole lot of separated families. The only people who ever give me or them a hard time is people who want to keep the family separate and the person they raised sequestered and all to themselves. Kinship is not something a person can ‘earn’ through pregnancy or intention or anything else. It is what it is whether we like it or not. Did you do anything to earn your relationship as great great grandchild to to an already passed away great great grandparent? It just is who you are in relation to them as their descendant. So who your kid is in relationship to your donor is that she’s her child and she did not happen to stick around to raise her the way everyone else’s parents are made to. Law is different for her. But it should not be. That is the unfair part.

      The relationship between a woman who gives birth to an egg donor’s offspring and the offspring exists only because it was paid for or gifted
      The relationship between the woman and her offspring exists in spite of the fact that she tried to sell it or give it away.

      • Concerned DE Mom

        Haha…thanks(no thanks) for the disingenuous compliments. They are less than meaningless when in the next breath by incorrectly referring to the woman who provided an egg to us as an estranged parent. Also, please read closer next time, I already stated that my daughter knows how she came into this world.
        So I’m not an adoptive mother not because I’m just, well, not, but because to you I broke your moral/ethical code (YOURS, not the universes, not the legal systems) and skipped “All the tedious time consuming steps that protect minors from being trafficked and sold are skipped by just writing your name on an original birth certificate and because the estranged bio parent agreed to everything prior to the birth”??? And you go on –
        “You are raising this other woman’s offspring, that’s true right?” NO, it is not true. Repeatedly asking it will not make it so.
        “I don’t understand how you can say that the kid is not being kept from her family. Logically you must understand that she has a bunch of relatives that are not in her life” Logically I understand that all of her relatives are in her life. And adore her. Logically, Mariylnn, you must understand that you don’t get to decide what the term “relative” entails. Relative, to put it bluntly, is a relative term. Don’t think so? Read more on this blog…society and the courts don’t view that as black and white, nor should they, in my opinion.
        — Marilynn, you have some nerve! That is the closest thing to a reciprocal “compliment” I can offer you. Well, no, you also are clearly passionate. See, I can be nice too…it’s too bad that passion isn’t channelled into something more useful (like actual human trafficking).
        You absolutely CANNOT say that all donor conceived children “have to process the fact that their biological parent made a decision to bring them into the world, but did not want to raise them” because that is just not true. The donor didn’t bring my daughter into this world. I did. Did the donor know that a child being born with the help of her DNA was possible? Absolutely. This is not the same as “deciding to bring them into the world.” And I will repeat again and again, while the biological part of “biological parent” holds some weight, the word parent is totally misapplied in my opinion — and coincidentally the law and the dictionary are on my side.
        We are in emphatic disagreement on the definition of terms parent, absent, abandoned, relatives, equality, etc. Luckily the law is on my side as is common sense. Your interpretations of these terms belies your conservative stance. You may be for gay marriage, but you will forever treat gay people as unequal in terms of parentage. An egg donor is not an estranged parent. They did not sell a child. They did not abandon a child, even as you claim, legally. Abandonment is a legal term that applies when the legal parent or guardian deserts a child with no regard for the child’s physical health, safety or welfare. The defintion does not say anything about genetics.
        And as for equality, if our society fell in line as Marilynn says it should, a separate and unequal treatment of men and women with infertility would result, and a separate and unequal treatment of the children they can have with the help of ART. According to you, we can “never” be real parents and must always defer to fertile people we can pay/force to give up their children. So by extension, our children have been already told their “real” mother abandoned them, regardless of who they think of as their real mother. Why treat us and our children to a different standard than fertile people? You claim purely genetics, but historically this has not been the case in any legal system. Certainly custody cases of children already alive have looked to genetics to determine custody but this has never been the sole determinant. You propose to treat infertile people differently. You are, in fact, advocating unequal treatment, including of the children. You suggest that even if my child views me as her only mother that she be told by you and society that she is wrong. That genetics trump and therefore her opinion is irrelevant. We do not tell children whose parents are also their genetic contributors how to think and feel. Who are you to tell my daughter she has already suffered a loss? That is, for her
        You further claim that this supposed equality is based on legal precedent. Well the laws used to favor forced, life long institutionalization if you were deemed mentally retarded or mentally ill. Now the law has evolved with the times and modern medical psychiatric treatment. Accommodations to support equitable (if not precisely equal) treatment are a requirement of the law for people with disabilities. The same accommodations should be (and in many ways already are) made for people with infertility as it is also a disability. And the accommodation required is, in some cases, the use of donor gametes with all parties consent, and in others, the use of another woman’s body with her consent. (EVERYBODY LOSE THEIR MINDS NOW. You can scream and shout but the law is on my side.) Ask me about prostitution and why that is illegal still….well, I will tell you it is decriminalized where I live presently and I think it should be decriminalized everywhere. That is how to keep women safe and still allow them full self-determination.
        I would have less of a problem with your statements, Marilynn, if you phrased them as they SHOULD be phrased…”In my opinion…” “It is my belief that….” “according to my definition of parent….” because that is all this BS is…your opinion. The law is not on your side. History is not even on your side.

        And p.s. I’m sorry to hijack this post Julie. I realize I am responding to an accumulation of comments on various posts over time and not directly to what you have shared here.

        • i don’t know how old your daughter is. when she is old enough to understand, she may indeed come to the same conclusion as you; that pregnancy and love are what counts and her genetic kin is of no significance to her. however she may come to the conclusion that this is of significance to her and not having any connection to them is something emtionally difficult to process. and if thats the way she feels are you able and willing to respect that, even as it may put you in a somewhat negative light?

          • Concerned DE Mom

            As I see it, a fundamental component of parenting, is respecting your child’s wishes within age appropriate reason. Now, if my child were to one day come to a different conclusion from me, and not in the desperate throws of teenage angst “You’re not my “real mom” because you won’t let me drink and party with my friends. I want to meet my “real mom”, then I will respect that. I will assist her in any (non-criminal 🙂 ) endeavour she wishes to pursue — be it a same-sex relationship, an actress (not totally unlikely), or searching for the woman who contributed her genetic info. That support is what, by my definition, makes me my daughter’s “real mother” and her “parent”.

            • You can’t deny that you are having this conversation, and it’s obvious that you have more of teacher-pupil relationship because you are aware that she may one day find her bio-mom via genetics testing, and you want to be a good mentor-teacher-caregiver-supporter so she doesn’t wish for this new bio-family to be her legal family. It’s an incentive that bio-families don’t have.

          • I would not conflate curiosity and/or a belief in significance with the assumption that a grown child would view his/her conception or her/his legal parents in a negative light.

            This is true of people who are born of donor conception and people whom have been adopted.

            There’s no reason to assume that a child’s curiosity and/or interest in a social relationship, genealogical information, and/or health information would weaken or threaten the closeness of the legal nuclear family.

            • true. i stand corrected. let me amend my statement to which “might” put you in a negative light, emphasis on might.

              • Why not transform these sentences from passive to active?

                Your child will view you, in a negative light.

                You child will view you negatively.

                Your child will have negative thoughts about you, the mother.

                Or, we could insert more fear into these sentences. It’s so easy to frighten parents:

                You child will disown you.

                Your child will believe you made a horrible choice, by choosing to bring her into the world.

                Your child will be emotionally damaged.

                Your child will never heal.

                You are a bad mother.

                • Passive sentence constructions hide the subject of the sentence.

                  Strong sentences clearly identify subject – action – object.

                  Your child will feel negatively towards you, the mother. (Subject: Child Verb: Will Hate Object: Mother.)

                  But this sentence is also revealing:

                  Kisarita suspects your child will feel “negatively” towards you.

                  (Subject: Kissarita; Verb: Suspects; Object: Child)

                  • It is improbable that thinking children and parents will never view each other in a negative light- about SOMETHING. none of us are perfect and our nearest and dearest know that better than anyone else.
                    so let me rephrase and specify that the child *may* come to view their manner of conception in a negative light, If that does happen, that is something the parent needs to respect. Of course I don’t have a crystal ball, but neither do you.

                  • And I do not ask you if you will respect your child.

                  • Look, sorry for the intemperance.

                    I see many comments on this blog as rude, invasive, and personal.

                    After a while it’s hard not to say anything, particularly when I’m worried that someone else is being hurt.

                • To be clear: I do not believe these statements.

                  I do not like rhetoric that that attempts to frighten parents. I do not think it is useful or constructive.

                  • what is the purpose of imputing nasty motives to me or to anyone else, when none were expressed?

                  • first you tell me that i should use stronger frightening rhetoric, and then say that it isn’t constructive. don’t turn me into a strawman please.

                  • I believe that much of this rhetoric is intended to scare parents. If you do not intend to inspire fear, you may want to re-consider how you are phrasing things.

                    It was not necessary to assume that the child would see her mother in a negative way. You could have asked how she would approach her daughter’s need to process.

                    “and if thats the way she feels are you able and willing to respect that, even as it may put you in a somewhat negative light?”

                    I also think the question was invasive and personal. You’re questioning her parental skills.

                  • 1. clearly you didn’t read the first half of my comment.
                    2. i don’t believe in parental skills, as i always say being a parent is not a task its a relationship
                    3. this anonymous poster chose to discuss her view of her relationship with her daughter on a public discussion forum. surprise, surprise, some of us are going to respond and discuss it. nothing wrong with that.

                  • “and if thats the way she feels are you able and willing to respect that, even as it may put you in a somewhat negative light?”

                    I cannot imagine asking a parent if she will respect her child’s feelings.

                    But I cannot imagine that a competent parent would not respect the distressed feelings of a child. Perhaps this is a point of miscommunication.

                    I’ve read your entire comment. Perhaps you did not mean it the way it read. Or, perhaps we disagree as to what sort of questions cross-boundaries.

                  • are you kidding? people in intimate relationships fail to accept each others feelings ALL THE TIME when that feeling is very at odds with how they’d like things to be.

                  • No, I’m being literal. This may be why the question was interpreted by rude, but you saw it as a polite question. I think this is a point of miscommunication.

                    I judge it to be unacceptable behaviour, to dismiss, or to disrespect, the distressed feelings of a child. (I also see that behaviour as unacceptable in any familial or intimate relationships.)

                    That is not saying a child may act inappropriately. I don’t accept acting-out as a result of distress. (A child may feel bad, but that child may not throw rocks at other children.)

                    But distressed feelings are not actions.

                  • on another note: “competent parent” is another phrase that I would avoid based on my insistence that being a parent is a relationship, not a job. i’ve developed this idea while participating on this blog. one can be competent doctor perhaps, or mechanic, or housecleaner. but being a good parent is more about being a mature person of good character, with a lot of luck thrown into the mixture. its not a checklist of tasks to complete.
                    and yes, mature, mindful people are less likely to deny others feelings, although there is never any guarantee.

                  • I do not think any relationship excuses abuse.

                  • “people in intimate relationships fail to accept each others feelings ALL THE TIME when that feeling is very at odds with how they’d like things to be.”

                    This is not my experience. Feelings are not something to be accepted or rejected. Feelings simply exist. They are symptoms.

                    Distressed feelings ought to be recognized, respected, and addressed, just as you wouldn’t ignore a stomach ache in a child.

                    If you ignore symptoms, the child (or adults) can, and probably will, become more distressed. This tends to be true if it is a physical or a mental distress.

                • Concerned DE Mom

                  This is EXACTLY how I interpret statements like these, they are not innocent questions…they are questions with an agenda. Nevertheless, I answered Kisarita’s (presumptive and leading question), because as she said, I did post on a public form where I could anticipate the reaction to my post.

                  • I do appreciate your answer. It was quite well thought out.

                  • I had a similar interpretation.

                    However, it just occurred to me, that some people are raised in families where respecting children is not the expected behaviour of parents.

                    Perhaps disrespecting the feelings of children is something that is seen as a legitimate choice in some families? This would explain why we would interpret such a question as rude, whereas someone else would see it as a polite question.

                    (To put it a different way: The question “When do you plan to stop beating your wife” would not be seen as impolite in a society where beating one’s wife is expected and acceptable behaviour. Perhaps the disrespect of the feelings of children is seen as expected and acceptable in some circles?)

                  • quit your vendetta. insinuating things about people’s families is over the top. I never brought up my personal life; I responded to someone else who did.
                    the dynamic i have just mentioned isn’t specific to children, or to one particular household. although i agree that due to power differential it is more likely with children. more importantly, it is a recurrent theme in the accounts of donor conceived offspring, and has been previously addressed on this blog. it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask someone who brought up the topic herself. kudos to her for her very thoughtful response.
                    and no it wasn’t the “when did you stop beating your wife” question. the question never assumed anything that wasn’t stated or tried to trap anything. I admit it was a leading question, in that it was clearly understood what the “right answer” was.
                    quit.

                  • Kissarita,

                    I hear you. You think your question was appropriate and polite.

                    I don’t understand your perception. (Just an aside, but I think the dismissal of the distressed feelings of children is emotionally abusive. This probably explains my reaction.)

                    “This is EXACTLY how I interpret statements like these, they are not innocent questions…they are questions with an agenda.”

                    I stated my reaction. The other commenter stated her reaction. You don’t care. Let’s move on.

        • DE Mom she’s not deciding what relative means – the word already has a meaning that everyone understands. If you mean something different by that word then you are making up your own language using words that already exist to make things sound different than they really are so you can be someone you want to be – but your not. You are lying and your pissed off at being busted for it. If you define words we all know with some made up meaning of your own then your just lying.

          • Spouses are legal relatives of each other so it’s not like it’s a word that has always been used to refer only to biological relatives. And at some times in history, for example, special permission was needed from the church to marry the widowed spouse of a person’s sibling (no biological relationship) because siblings in law were considered to be too closely related to marry otherwise.

            • She says she’s not keeping the kid she’s raising from her relatives when she fallsified her medical record sho she can’t find them. She is saying that child is not related is not a relatve too her maternal family. She’s erasing half of who she is and half the people she’s related to. She is ignoring the direct question about cutting the kid off from her relatives by trying to say that SHE is the kid’s relative not the people the kid actually has a maternal relatedness to. She’s twisting things because she wanted a baby so badly she paid someone to make her one and then paid her to go away.

              The people you rely on for love and everything else don’t care about you your feelings or your rights at all they just want you there to be their perfect little baby. Its not like adoption its so much worse because of the motives of all the players. The loss of family is the same for the kids only it comes with an extra kick in the stomache

              • Concerned DE Mom

                Liz – This is my last response to you unless you change your tone. I did not falsify medical records. I did not erase anything. My belief is that in this modern era, family and relatives are more open to personal interpretation than ever, and that’s something I revelled in long before I found my way to a family through donor conception. As human beings, I believe we can chose where to define our familial boundaries based on love, on genetics, on marriage, on civil unions, on mutual understanding and agreement or on any darn thing we please.

                I have already said I will leave it up to our daughter what her level of interest in and definition of the woman who donated her egg is. As a responsible parent, I would never dream of telling her how to think and feel….but I also would definitely never listen to some anonymous person on the internet tell me the narrative of her life as you have attempted to predict.

                Finally, if I can be reduced to a woman who “wanted a baby so badly” then why would I even be here? Reading and showing any interest? I find most people contributions here (whether I agree or disagree) to be of benefit to me and ultimately to my daughter. In my opinion, Marilynn and yourself detract and harm this discussion with accusations, assumptions, narrow minded personal opinions and a great deal of anger.

                • It really seems to me that this is the best one can do. I know for some it is not enough–for some people the person who provided the egg MUST be recognized as a parent. If that is your view, then it’s all bad. But it seems clear to me that there are thriving children born using genetic material from third-parties (often called donors.)

                  What determines whether a donor conceived child thrives must be very complicated. Not all of that is within anyone’s control–I know wonderful people who have genetic children who struggle with a variety of issues. But obviously there are special concerns that a parent of a donor conceived child will face, just as there are special concerns that adoptive parents face.

                  It strikes me that the attitude demonstrated by concerned DE mom is what we can hope for–someone willing to support the child in whatever it is that the child wants/needs, mindful that this may be different things at different times. None of us can say what that will be, and surely the best thing any parent can do is to be ready and willing to engage with whatever comes.

                  I worry a good deal that the simplistic intolerance demonstrated by some of the commenters who fling judgmental language around thoughtlessly will hurt these children. I doubt this is the intention, but as you all know, I don’t think intention matters that much. As the saying goes, actions speak louder the words. The effect of some of the comments is to deny the legitimacy of the donor conceived child’s family and to impugn the motives of the parents. I get that you may not like the fact that these families exist–you may think they shouldn’t exist. But they do exist and there are real children living in them. I don’t see any reason why we can’t sensibly debate the policies here without undermining those families.

                • You seem like a great mom. I’m sure your daughter is and will be happy that you ARE her mother.

                  • Concerned DE Mom

                    You bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I am quite sure she is happy now. Who can say what the future holds, but I have lots of faith in my parenting abilities…she will loved, told she is ok just as she is, know and be told repeatedly that she has two parents (and fun-loving, affectionate, never-forget-a-birthday-or-special-event extended family on both sides) who love her unconditionally, even if she doesn’t always reciprocate this love…heck she will be told that if she decides she’s not in fact a she but a he, we’ll support that. She is too young now to be truly her own person, as I believe all kids are at her age, but as the time comes, that’s what we will allow her to grow into…her own person. I look forward to seeing and loving that person with all my heart, and don’t think I or any other commentator here can say what that will be.

                  • You sound like a fabulous mother.

                    And, I have to say, I loved your comments. Thank you for sharing them with us. It was brave to do so when you knew your family would be attacked.

              • You’ve let Marilynn’s non biological family hate poison your mind. Don’t let her turn your hurt into hate.

          • “the word already has a meaning that everyone understands.”

            Sadly, no. Again, this is not an accurate statement.

          • While I am happy to welcome a diversity of views here, I want to ask you to tone down your rhetoric a bit. It’s not productive to discussion to accuse others of lying, etc. By all means disagree of you like–but do so respectfully or do not do so in the comments on this blog. Tone really does matter if we’re going to try to talk about things we really care about. Different people have different experiences and also different opinions and can reach different conclusions in good faith.

            Further, language in this area is tricky. Often we do all mean the same thing when we say, for instance, that someone is a parent. But “parent” can come with many modifiers and sometimes we don’t mean the same thing. That’s part of the purpose of this blog–to highlight the variability of language. I’m not convinced we all mean the same thing when we say “relative”– it may vary in context.

            • Concerned DE Mom

              I’m sorry if I hit send too soon on my last post…it was snarky at the end and that is not how I want to engage here. One of the many parenting lessons I hope to teach my daughter as she gets old enough to understand is that we may not always say it right or do it right the first time, but we can take responsibility and try again.

              I agree completely with your point about language being tricky. What I disagree with in other comments on this thread is asserting to others which definitions they should take as gospel.

            • Well look if she is raising an egg donor’s offspring and she thinks of herself and her family as the kid’s relative fine, go ahead but she’s trying to say that the kid is not cut off from her own relatives and that just is not true. So should I say biological relatives? OK then let her answer that question – why is she wanting to cut this kid off from half her biological relatives, mess with her medical records so she can’t find them and they can’t find her? How that kid supposed to feel when that lady sits there saying that the kid is not estranged from her maternal relatives? She is acting like her family are the kid’s maternal relatives and they are not. Tess was trying to say how inaccurate I was being calling this stuff a crime but how about trying to say that maternal relatives are not the kids relatives? That’s inaccurate. Saying birth certificates are not medical records is the most incredibly insulting and inaccurate thing someone could say to an adopted person – well ours are not medical records clearly but yours are and that would be the problem Red is always harping on it’s not fair not equal.

              • It is factually inaccurate to call an action a crime that is not designated as a crime by the state.

                This is a blog that discusses legalities. I suggest clarity in your use of legal terms, if you wish to communicate effectively.

              • This has already been stated, but I do want to underline it:

                Simply from reading this blog, it’s obvious that these terms have different meanings for different people:

                Kin, relatives, family, marriage, children, sex, mother, father, parent, child.

                You cannot read this blog, and not see that people have radically different understandings of these terms.

                These terms are not a-historical. The meanings of these terms change over time. This means these terms are historical categories.

                I’d also underline that these terms are currently contested within our society. They also have multiple meanings around the world. These words have multiple, contested definitions, and different meanings according to place and time.

                I know someone who is doing research on a society in which breast feeding establishes kinship ties and alters kinship lines.

                • I remember reading something about that breastfeeding and kinship thing but I forget the country. Children breastfed by the same woman could not marry as adults in that society, as they were considered siblings of a sort.

              • Liz your experience as an adopted person may be parallel to egg donation, however it is too early to know for sure how it will turn out. This is a very new way of creating families, so we don’t know yet. The fact is that on a cultural and psychological level, pregnancy is so strongly associated with motherhood, that egg donor offspring may truly not feel as if they are adopted. Then again, they might. we just don’t know yet. Thats why I asked my previous question that Tess got so upset about, whether DE MOM is aware and prepared for all these contingencies, and she answered that she was.

                • Just as a note, I have posted this comment to close the loop on this topic. (Plus it’s perfectly civil.) I’m not sure that further discussion about what was/was not said/meant by who is really useful.

          • Concerned DE Mom

            I ask that you purchase (or for more instant access, Google) the definitions of the words I am referencing. Please be sure to also consult a legal dictionary. I am making up nothing.

            I also ask that you refrain from making sweeping statements. Who is this “everyone” that inherently understands your definitions? I can count at least 3 exceptions in this comment section alone.

            I regret that you have chosen to jump to conclusions and attempted to mind read me….you were wrong. I was neither lying nor pissed off “at being busted” as you have failed to “bust” me on anything.. However, after reading your diatribe I am pissed off….not at being busted though.

    • Unfortunately there are closed minded people out there who are biological family elitists. I’m glad you see it for the non sense that it is and are ignoring it,

      Best wishes to you and your family.

      • It has nothing to do with biology – we are not treated fair.

        • Your circumstance was different. Beyond your OBC being sealed you are being treated fairly. Again don’t let Marilynn poison your mind.

          • poison their minds? who taught who what here? They are the ones that told me and showed me what was going on. I’m the one preached to Greg. Beyond sealing her original they issued an amended one don’t forget and that was how she was treated unfairly because the amended one prevents her from remaining herself and then her relatives can’t locate her or know about her if they want. She’ll never be legal kin to the family she is in reunion with – can’t take time off work legally to attend her own family member’s funeral or take a sick relative in to care for them and claim them as a dependent on her taxes. There is much more to the differential treatment than I think you are aware of. Her adoptive parents are truly lovely people. It’s not their fault the laws are messed up

    • “And I am entitled to tell you that your “opinions” are harmful — and your determination to preach this opinion of yours as gospel is going to harm the very children you supposedly are advocating for.”

      The toxic rhetoric is similar (almost identical) to a strand of anti-adoption rhetoric that labels all adoption as slavery. A small group of people exists who wish to replace all adoption with legal guardianship. They view adoption as slavery, and they use that term literally, not, as one might expect, as a metaphorical term. The anti-adoption/ anti-donor conception rhetoric is then employed to attack both practices.

      An analysis of how this anti-donor conception rhetoric circulated in the United States is revealing. It peaked in the aughts (especially around the years 2007-2013) in conjunction with a last-ditch organized effort to prevent the legalization of gay marriage. You can see similar reactions presently in France, as that nation discusses the legalization of gay marriage.

      In the United States, non-normative families have increasingly used donor-conception. The creation of these legally protected, non-normative families, were of great concern to this group. Gay marriage, in particular, alarmed certain people, as they were concerned that legal marriage would lend legal protection to these non bio-normative families.

      The fear of non-normative families included a fear of any family that did not contain a biologically connected mother and father. The idea that other family forms could legally raise children, such as gay families, single women, and, especially, single-men raising children, greatly alarmed certain people/groups.

      A small, fringe, anti-adoption movement has found common cause with these groups. There is a great alarm, and even fear, of family forms that do not conform to the biological mother-father-children nuclear family.

      Like those who are in these anti-donor conception groups, they do not think any other individuals, others then the biological mother and father, should be given parental identities. They do not believe that any other individuals should be legally recognized as parents.

      The organizers of these groups were much less likely to employ the inflammatory language of the anti-adoption groups. There are many religious people who are pro-adoption but anti-donor conception. Additionally, there is a large contingent of people who would support, for example, embryo-donation, due to their beliefs about life beginning at conception. As a political tactic, this language is not rhetorically effective for the organizers and donors.

      But some individuals, I suppose in what we might call the political “base” of the anti-donor conception group, were drawn to the toxic rhetoric. Assertions of bio-normativity were employed to argue against the health of non-normative family forms (gay families/ non-normative bio-families.) It is the identical language employed against adopted families by certain fringe individuals.

      Anyways, I’m sorry for this rambling. The history of rhetoric is something I find interesting. I agree this language could be hurtful to children.

      Stigma harms children. Fortunately, many children, particularly those with supportive parents, have the emotional resources to resist negative labels and language.

      • Concerned DE Mom

        Thank you for sharing. That is all very interesting and I appreciate the info.

        I especially like your last point because it sums up my worries about posts with language such as Marilynn uses. It stigmatizes the children whose rights she claims to be protecting.

        • You just want a free pass to lie. The kid you are raising will tell you what you want to hear to your face. You’ll beg for reassurance that she really feels the way she says she feels and she will tell you with a straight face and tears in her eyes that your are the one who was there for her and that you and only you are her mother – and then she’ll blog behind your back maybe even find her family and just never bother telling you.

          You won’t be asking her if she’s telling the truth for her benefit and she will have learned how to from the best of the best. Hey if you can redefine the word Mom or Relative to mean you and her relatives are her relatives,she’ll start making up her own definitions of words as soon as she learns to talk which means you will never have any idea how she really feels and she’s telling you what she wants you to believe because it simply works out better for her that way.

          Everyone trashing her is someone who bought a baby or wants to buy one.

          • In case this is not obvious, this comment comes across as incoherent and bizarre.

          • You’re really making way too many assumptions here–and then translating them into incendiary language. It isn’t going to help the discussion. Please be more temperate.

            I think everyone hear agrees that buying and selling children is wrong. What we disagree about is what counts as selling a child. What counts as selling a child may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t obvious to everyone. Simply insisting that all of us have bought a baby (or want to) doesn’t advance the conversation at all.

            • If you paid money to secure parental obligations and custody of a child that is not your own biological offspring then there you go

              • I may regret posting this, but I think I disagree. Suppose a man and a woman are having trouble with conception. They go to a fertility doc and pay money and she/he assists in a way that results in a child genetic related to both of them. You could say the paid money for that child if you wanted to. But for the $$ no child. And of course, no child, no parental rights. But I don’t think most people think of this as buying a child.

                I think of buy sperm in the same way. You’re not buying the child–you’re buying something you need to have a child, though. If you use that sperm to inseminate yourself you’ll be a parent. But you secured those rights by virtue of giving birth/being pregnant–not because you bought the sperm.

                It really does all loop back to what makes one a parent. IF you start with the assumption that the man who provided sperm was a legal father because of the genetics, then you have more of a problem. But that’s not an assumption I share.

                • My parent's donor is my father

                  This is all from a legal POV. But no matter what the law says, the dna make up of the person (the bio-genetic mother/bio-genetic father) and that resulting person is really, when it comes down to it, the only opinion that matters. My parent’s donor is my father. This is simply truth. He’s also my children’s grandfather. Truth. The law doesn’t say so. So what? He matters to us but he is not the only person that matters. The law can’t do much really to change that.

                  • Indeed, this is primarily about the law. There are all sorts of crucial people in our lives who may not stand in a legal relationship to us.

                    Your point about individual experiences is critical, too. I don’t presume to tell people how they experience the world–it’s not for me to do. But it seems to me (from many conversations with many people) that individual experiences vary–and in particular, people think of the meaning of the genetic tie in different ways. It has different meaning to different people. For this reason I am wary of the word “truth.” If you mean your individual truth, then of course it must be as you say. But this is not a universal truth, by which I mean different people will have different truths.

                    In the end there’s a complicated relationship between the law and individual experience. The law surely shapes individual experience for good or ill, but it also should be shaped by those experiences. To be concrete, the experience of adopted people with needing to find their birth parents lead to shifts in the law–as it should have. In the same way the voice of the donor conceived might lead to changes in the law to provide them with information about their genetic origins.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    By “truth”, I mean in a more universal genetic/natural law way, it simply IS. But of course we all place different values and meanings (and politics) in this and in our expressions – which are fluid and rarely firm. “Donor” anonymity laws however, I do firmly believe need to end. One way or another…anonymity is no longer a guarantee. The law should evolve to reflect this reality (truth?).

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    I am just as much a result of a genetic ‘marriage’ between my genetic mother and my genetic father as I am between my genetic mother and my social dad. Technically, I’m the result of the ‘marriage’ of 3 people. But not by law. That would be ‘illegal’.

                • “Suppose a man and a woman are having trouble with conception. They go to a fertility doc and pay money and she/he assists in a way that results in a child genetic related to both of them. You could say the paid money for that child if you wanted to. But for the $$ no child. ”

                  This is why Julie I think the argument of “buying children” is going down a slippery slope. Because you can classify anyone going through fertility issues who requires any type of medical treatment as buying kids even in cases where the intending parents are the genetic parents. It’s a flawed argument IMO. That’s not to say one can’t object to the “morality” and “ethics” of it but IMO saying its child buying is wrong.

                  Unless you are handing someone money and they hand you a kid without any questions then IMO you are not buying a child. In the case of ART and 3PR the purchase is of the materials to conceive a child not the child itself. In the case of adoption it’s the services to process the adoption that are purchases not the child itself, IMO.

                  There needs to be a distinction between services and materials to conceive or adopt a child and actually child purchasing.

                  • The way I think about it, the critical question is whether you are buying parental rights. If you are buying parental rights that amounts to buying a child and is bad. You are buying parental rights if someone else has those rights and you give over money in order to obtain them for yourself. (There are actually other situations in which I’d see child-buying. Slavery, say. The buyer doesn’t pretend to have parental rights there, though, so I will set it aside.)

                    The reason I don’t have trouble with buying sperm is that I don’t see the sperm donor as a rights-holder. (And often the law happens to agree with me.) But if you did see the sperm donor as holding parental rights, then giving up those rights in exchange for money is a problem.

                    This is why I think it all comes back to who is a legal parent. You need to start by figuring that out and then you can look at where the money exchange is. So in my fertility clinic, there’s no one giving up parental rights in exchange for money, so no child-buying.

        • Stigma? What stigma? They don’t have the same rights as other people the rules are different for them than for everyone else. The uniform parentage act specifically excludes them from legal protections afforded to other people whose parents are unmarried because I suppose they think there are not enough adoptable babies to go around and this short cut solves something they perceive to be a problem. You could still have parental rights over the child you gave birth to if the donor had to go to court to have her obligations terminated and you had to go to court to get your parental rights approved. I’m just against the short cut for some people to get parental rights over kids who are someone else’s offspring and against the short cut to proper relinquishment in court by bio parents. The fact that everyone agreed before the kid was born is not important. Once the kid exists and they are bio parents they should have to follow the same rules as others so their children have the same legal protection.. It should not be “well you gave birth so you can skip it” or “your married to a bio parent or someone who adopted so you can skip it”

      • I understand the worry. I would suggest that the rhetoric is designed to play on the natural concern and worry of new parents. (In other words, parental worry is a feature, not a bug, for the people who employ this rhetoric.)

        This rhetoric will become less prominent as these legal battles over gay marriage become less timely.

        One of the prominent blogs (Family Scholars) has recently redirected internet searches to bypass the old blog entirely. You’d have to use archive.org or the WayBackMachine to even read the discourse. The political realities of 2014 are quite different from 2008.

        Researching the history of this rhetoric has been fun, but in terms of donor-conception I think it hit its peak about 2-3 years ago.

    • Clapping for you!

      Marilynn’s consistently absurd, predominantly non-factual, and deliberately mean-spirited rants are precisely why I only read the site and rarely bother to look at or participate in the comment stream.

      My best parenting advice to you – prepare your daughter to deal with people who spew such vitriol so she knows where to properly file such opinions. It’s best your daughter learn early-on to laugh at their absurdity.

  4. Concerned DE Mom

    I would also like to add a thank you to Julie Shapiro for her thoughtful blog posts. I have read though many of them now and I agree with you on many to most (but not quite all) of your positions. Regardless though, I appreciate the thoughtful language you use when discussing these delicate issues. I further appreciate the close look at the legal language and the careful analysis of all sides of issues, such as the one above — looking at the importance of intent and of actual actions and behavior in building families. Thank you for your contribution.

  5. yet another disgraceful ruling from california but it was the only possible ruling based on the other california laws with their ridiculous differentiation between the different manners a person could be conceived. completely illogical. as i previously stated, this is a discriminatory law against subfertile men, as it seems jason patric may have been. (the nyt story states they tried to conceive via intercourse but failed.)

    • G, could you get on board with this?

    • Hey Ki I need you to explain your angle here. What the heck is a subfertile man anyway and how does the law discriminate against them? Why are you worried about the adults though rather than the kid? Not that the law is not set up to to that already but just asking.

      • Asking since nobody owes anyone a child, but kids are owed the support of their bio parents except in these certain circumstances where exceptions have been called out and the exceptions stink

      • by subfertile i mean a man who has difficulty conceiving children relative to other men but is not totally sterile so can be helped by fertility procedures. excuse me if i use the wrong word. and as for adults, yes i believe adults have rights too

    • Was he sub fertile? Just because IVF was utilized to conceive the child does not mean he was the one with fertility issues. I could be wrong but I don’t think that was ever disclosed in this case.

      • it wasn’t disclosed, but its a possibility. by treating men who conceive children using medical assistance as if their parenthood is lesser than men who conceive via intercourse, the law discriminates against men who for whatever reason can not conceive via intercourse.

        marilyn, i like to examine the issues from different angles….

        • Courts recognize that men who utilize IVF have legal standing to claim rights over the disposition of resulting embryos.

          • Oh the whole frozen embryo problem—-this is actually a separate and complicated topic. In general courts have historically sided with the party who wants to destroy the embryos–recognizing a right not to procreate. This isn’t always the case, though, and I know there is one recent one out there that goes the other way–soon to feature on the blog. I think the cases are different because since there is no child in those cases, there are no parents and the analysis goes differently. (Often these cases arise on divorce.)

        • (Legally, the gametes from women are treated identically to the gametes from men in ART situations.)

        • Definitely agree Ki. This could happen to a married couple who uses IVF and then the couple gets separated and the mother decides she doesn’t want her ex to parent the kid.

          • i think if the couple is legally married it doesn’t make a difference, the man will have paternity due to the marital presumption. its because this couple A. was not married and B. conceived via IVF- the two factors together

            • Kisarita is right yet again–if they were married he’d have a presumption of legal parenthood for sure. And more than that, in CA and a number of other states when a woman is inseminated with sperm that is not from her spouse and her spouse consents to that process, the spouse will be a legal parent no matter where the sperm came from. The problem is that they weren’t married. (And do we know/care about why they weren’t married.)

              there are actually a number of ways that Patric’s rights could have been secured if both people had wanted to do that (including they could have gotten married.) But they didn’t do these things.

      • He had a surgery of some kind to try to help them conceive when they were still trying naturally. So the problem may have been his or maybe they both had low fertility (she was close to 40 I believe).

        • I haven’t followed the case closely.

          It didn’t sound to me like he was treated differently from a similarly situated unmarried man who did not use ART. (Not placed on the birth certificate; no genetic testing done; ect.?) But I’m not following the case closely.

          • if they had conceived via intercourse, no one would have ever suggested he was a sperm donor in the first place

            • I think Kisarita is right here–if conception had resulted from intercourse (which they did try) he would be a legal father. It is clear that that is not what happened here and so a different set of rules apply. I think it is also clear that it is only because conception via intercourse didn’t work that they moved on to AI. And it does seem that the problem with conception via intercourse was with Patric’s sperm.

              One other thing to note, perhaps. It took time for all this to unfold and during that time the nature of the relationship between Patric and Schreiber changed. Maybe even the intention of the parties about being coparents changed. I’m not sure this matters in terms of the particulars of the court opinion, but it might be important to note.

        • This is quite interesting. I am still in the process of learning when unmarried men are seen as legal fathers. It also sounds as if there is a status in which men have standing to prove their connection to the court. (putative fathers?)

          I do understand that if someone is classified as a legal sperm donor, and not as an individual who is utilizing ART as a couple, that man will lose legal claims.

          I think I am unclear on the following: If Patric had been a one-night-stand, would he have more claims parentage? I assumed that the one-night-stand and the ART situation would be applied equally. I also assumed that the social relationship could work to provide standing for a legal claim.

          If unmarried men, in couples, are treated differently after the use of ART, that is unfortunate.

          A side question: In the case of embryos, don’t both individuals who commissioned the embryo have similar claims in court? Perhaps there is a legal different between the use of IUIs versus IVF.

          • The treatment of unmarried men is complicated, confusing and perhaps even irrational. It also varies a good deal state to state. The problem is that there are overlapping bodies of law, I think. Historically legal fatherhood was tied to marriage and children born to unmarried women had no fathers. There’s a lot of long-established law built around marriage as the determinant of legal fatherhood.

            But there has been change–and this is where you get conflict. In the last forty years or so we’ve decided that children born to unmarried parents shouldn’t be treated worse than children born to married parents. After all, it is hardly the child’s fault. This meant that we needed a way to assign legal fatherhood for unmarried children.

            You could accomplish this by sweeping the deck clear (as it were) and starting over with a set of rules that applied to everyone. But we haven’t done that. We’ve still got a lot of marital presumption rules. (See a whole string of recent posts on this topic.) So instead we’ve layered on a new set of rules for men who aren’t married.

            If it had been a one night stand Patric would be in a much stronger legal position. (I think this might actually be the topic of my very first ever post.) Doesn’t that seem slightly ridiculous?

          • “If it had been a one night stand Patric would be in a much stronger legal position. (I think this might actually be the topic of my very first ever post.) Doesn’t that seem slightly ridiculous?”

            Yes – that is ridiculous! I would not have expected that to be the legal situation.

            It sounds like there are certain situations where a man has standing to offer evidence of parenthood, and other situations where he has no standing. I’m assuming a one-night-stand would have standing to offer evidence of biological connection?

            I’ve been thinking about a 1691 Virginia law “And for the prevention of that abominable mixture…”. This statute outlaws interracial marriage.

            It also provides punishment for unmarried English women who give birth to children born from interracial relationships. These children were indentured to the parish for 30 years.

            I’ve been wondering if these single mothers were not viewed by colonial Virginian law as the legal parent, and if these were cases of children with no recognized parents. I understand that prior to the unmarried woman being viewed as the parent, that children born outside of marriage were seen as having no parents. But, I want to be cautious, as I understand there is a significant difference between custody rights and the legal status of parent.

            This statute mandated that the Church wardens would bind out the child as a servant until the age of 30. I suspect the local parish effectively held custody rights, including the right to chose various masters and mistresses for the child during that 30 year term.

            “That if any English woman being free shall have a bastard child by any negro or mulatto, she pay the sume of fifteen pounds sterling, within one moneth after such bastard child be born, to the Church wardens of the parish where she shall be delivered of such child, and in default of such payment she shall be taken into the possession of the said Church wardens and disposed of for five yeares,…that such bastard child be bound out as a servant by the said Church wardens untill he or she shall attaine the age of thirty yeares,”

            • I have only a moment so will make one quick point and come back to this later. The one night stand guy would typically be able to assert legal parentage with no other conduct but the one night stand. Genetic alone would do it. That’s more favorable treatment than the sperm donor gets if you’re assuming both men want to be parents. It less favorable if you think that neither wants to be a parent. But in any case the differential treatment seems fairly ridiculous to me. It exists because we have developed a special body of law for conception without intercourse–designed to facilitate the use of assisted reproduction. It’s functional–it does what it is meant to (facilitate ART). But it can be hard to find a logical justification for where this leaves us.

    • The point about subfertile men is quite interesting and, I think, raises a valid concern. And it raises what I think is a critical question not yet discussed much in this particular set of comments: Why would we treat the man differently based on whether the sperm got there via intercourse or via AI? What possible sense does this make. But that is exactly what CA does (and the case cited–Stephen S–makes this absolutely clear.)

      You’ve taken it a step further in identifying potentially problematic differential treatment. This warrants real consideration, I think.

      By the way, I appreciate your recognition that the problem is CA law, not this particular application of it. The law as written does actually demand this result, I think.

      • I think its fascinating as well. See if all bio parents were treated the same as far as obligations go this would not be an issue. I like the way Ki flipped the issue. Just distill it down to is primary issue. Just obligate all bio parents the same and then all the kids are getting equal treatment. If his parental obligations need to be terminated in court for whatever reason then someone has to prove there is a problem so he gets his due process and so does the kid. And if someone else were to want parental authority it would have to be after him and the kid had their due process and then they’d have to follow the rules to get approved. Which again, is part of the due process that benefits the kid. It is the way it is currently done for everyone else, but the exemption given to donors messes all of that up.

        Giving birth to another person’s offspring or being married to someone who gives birth don’t change the fact that they are not biologically related to the kid and so should have to follow the same rules that other people do when they want parental rights. This also prevents people from being saddled with parental obligations for someone else’s offspring without their consent such as happens in paternity fraud cases. Everyone gets their due process. It’s the good and fair thing about adoption when there are quite a few wrong things about it that need fixing.

        The exemption is the crux of the problem and it invites behavior which makes human infants and parental authority something that can be paid for or worked for by labor giving birth. It should not be possible to skip the protective steps of adoption and guardianship just because you can pay to take a short cut or just because your willing to put in the time and effort to be pregnant and deliver a baby.

  6. So there is a possibility that Patric could still lose? I wonder what his chances are. Let’s say he wins, I can’t imagine this would affect sperm donation at large. Could it?

    • since most sperm donors do their thing anonymously via banks, probably not

    • Sure. Depending on the stringency of the standard for determining whether a sperm provider is a functional parent, it could scare away people from fostering their child’s relationship with the sperm provider. More people might choose to donate anonymously, or to limit a known provider’s involvement in their child’s life.

      • People are so old fashioned they want the child all to themselves as if they’d conceived with their partner or conceived asexually. They should embrace the arrangement they actually made with someone outside their relationship. At minimum the two who actually conceived the child should be accountable and at best the third who supported their conceiving a child together should stick around and be supportive and involved.

        What are they scared of? The child getting what they deserve from the people who conceived them and also getting additional support from their partner or spouse? Having their maternal and paternal relatives in their lives and also having the relatives of the partner or spouse in their lives. Why can’t they just cooperate in the child’s best interests rather than thinking they must fit the bio-normative white picket fence ideal of having had children with their beloved partner. They did not have children with their partner. They are raising children with their partner or on their own and that can be done, and done successfully, without the child loosing legal kinship in either their maternal or paternal families.

        People just have to think beyond their romantic relationships and what they wish could have happened and make the best of the family they actually established so the child looses contact with nobody.. Their fear is unfounded and self focused rather than child centered. They could all cooperate for the child’s sake – millions of unmarried parents do it all the time in fact it’s the law for most people.

  7. I am really fascinated by way that ya’ll are slicing me up and analyzing my motives. I don’t favor any particular social structure to families. All I am ever suggesting is that there be no special exemption from parental obligations for gamete donors so that their offspring and relatives won’t be impacted by their decision to reproduce with someone they don’t know. I am only ever suggesting equal obligation and equal treatment for their offspring and other relatives. I’m not suggesting anything radical at all really because nobody is up in arms about the fact that the rest of the bio parents have to take responsibility for their own offspring.

    This case with Jason Patrick would not be an issue if the requirement was for all bio parents to go through a court approved termination of their parental obligations. Other cases would not be an issue if all people who want parental rights over other people’s offspring had to go through a court approved adoption or guardianship proceeding before being granted parental authority.

    If some people have to get a court approved adoption or guardianship before gaining parental rights over another person’s offspring – why not have it be all people have to do that? Why short cut the process for some people just because they are married to a bio parent or just because they gave birth to another person’s offspring? The end result is still the same for the kid – they are not being raised by a bio parent or both bio parents and they did not have their day in court first, everyone short cut the process that protects them by agreeing ahead of time before they were born. I don’t think its radical or out of bounds to point out the damage caused by having different rules for gamete donors when in the end all they really are is biological parents

    • Again, I don’t think it’s fair to compare this case to any other third party reproduction or adoption case. These are two unmarried adults who first tried to have a child naturally together and then utltimately concieved the child thorough ART. This is simply a custody case.

      Ki hit the nail on the head the issue that needs to be addressed from this case is unmarried couples with sub fertile men and their custody rights for child(ren) that are concieved. I’ll take it a step further it is a broader issue of any unmarried couples who have children through ART. To me anytime a person or couple conceives a child through ART intended parents need to be established prior to treatment. From a legal standpoint that would avoid some of these issues.

      • I think this means that you agree that having parentage turn on the manner of conception is problematic? I agree with this, but do want to stress that it is typically what law does. There is a separate body of law for cases where children are conceived via ART. The differences are particularly stark where you have unmarried couples–because the marital presumption does the work of smoothly over differences if the couple is married.

        But remember, we don’t really know the facts–or at least, I don’t. It’s possible, for example, that they tried to conceive as an couple and then when that failed moved on to ART. At some point during that time, it’s possible that the intentions of the parties changed–perhaps they weren’t getting along under the added stress of ART and decided they wouldn’t parent together. But (and again, I’m speculating just to show what is possible) maybe Patric was amenable to having his sperm used. What this might mean is that when conception occurred they were no longer like any unmarried couple trying to have a child together.

        This highlights what I think can be difficult about intent. Intent changes over time. What’s the critical time? Is it when they tried earlier as a couple? When Patric provided his sperm? When the conception actually occurred? When the child was born?

        • You believe intent is not good enough – I agree
          You believe that marriage is not a fair test either – I agree
          You believe that method of conception is unimportant as a determinate – I agree

          It’s odd to me that the parties to the conception are not the determining factor but rather the method by which those parties conceived the child. To be clear, nobody conceives a child with anyone else’s genes. When and under what circumstances can people rely upon the parties who conceived them to provide them with care and support while they are minors and why should intent, marriage, non marriage, or method of conception impact the obligations to care for the person they conceived. Certainly a person classified as a donor sets in motion the steps necessary to conceive his or her offspring; even going so far as to seek medical and marketing assistance in order to find people reproduce with and to find people who will facilitate their reproductive process by offering fertility treatment services to increase the likelihood of their offspring being born. They just don’t want to raise them. There is oodles of intent to conceive if one had to prove intent in that regard – where the intent is lacking is in taking any responsibility for the resulting child.

          Marriage is presumed to be evidence of paternity. If marriage alone were enough to make a person a parent it would not be presumptive proof of paternity it would just be marriage makes people parents and unmarried people are not parents.

          • I think it is important to start by saying that I think you’ve correctly outlined three things on which we really do agree. Hurray!

            But then you lose me. The third thing we agree on is that the method of conception is unimportant. But your very next sentence seems to contradict that–it says that the method by which the parties conceived the child is the determining factor. This really does seem contradictory to me and I don’t agree with this.

            I can say what I do think–I think that the people who act as psychological/social parents should be recognized as legal parents. I think the justification for this rule is that children rely on those relationships and need them to be protected.

            Often the psychological/social parents will be genetic parents. But they won’t always be. And if they are not, I think the law should provide that the legal parents are the psychological/social parents (even if they are not genetic parents) rather than the genetic parents (who are not psychological/social parent). This, I think, is where we disagree?

      • Is that fair to the person whose parentage rides on all these variables though? They might wind up with only one legal parent or wind up with two but be biologically related to only one – when the other bio parent is perfectly healthy and employed and functional with no reason in the world why their parental obligations would need to be terminated and supplanted by another person.

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