Somehow the last post (the one about Jason Patric) has generated some extended discussion of birth certificates. These come up here from time to time. (You’d find they warrant there own tag.) I always approach the topic with some hesitation because they seem to inspire extremely strong feelings. But still, they are fascinating documents and they raise critical issues, so here we are again.
For starters, I’d suggest you read the most recent birth certificate post I wrote. It just saves time not to repeat myself and I’ve read it over and don’t have anything different to say about the basics. The bottom line is that in the US, for whatever reasons, birth certificates are very curious documents.
Parts of them record historical facts: Where and when a child was born, say. What I mean is that if it says a child was born at 3:23 PM on May 19th, 2014 than that is a record of an historical event that happened at a particular time–the birth of this child. There’s no basis to go back and change a historical record unless it was initially recorded wrongly.
They also record (and I guess I haven’t really talked much about this) the sex of the child. Continue reading
In the category of “this just in”–the Supreme Court of Idaho published an opinion today in which it concludes that Idaho law permits a lesbian to complete a second-parent adoption. This warrants at least a short post. I’ve written about second-parent adoptions in the past, (and very recently about NY decision denying a second-parent adoption) but let me do a quick recap:
Second-parent adoptions are of particular importance to lesbian families. If a lesbian couple decides to raise kids, one way to do that is for one woman to give birth to the child. By virtue of giving birth, she will be deemed a legal parent of the child. Continue reading
I’m in the midst of trying to develop a theory of parenthood that solves my “only one parent at birth” problem. (Check out yesterday’s post if this makes no sense to you.) But I need to interrupt myself to talk about this story from today’s NYT. It’s not totally off-point because it concerns the marital presumption of legal parenthood, which has been a topic of conversation in the comments recently.
So here are the basic facts of the NY case. A lesbian couple (Amalia C and Melissa M) decided they wanted to have a child. Melissa gave birth to a child. Amalia sought to complete a second-parent adoption–a process that would make her the child’s second parent without disturbing Melissa’s rights. This is a well-recognized process in NY.
But, according to the judge considering the adoption, there was a problem: The two women had gotten married in 2011 and NY recognized this marriage. Continue reading
I’m going to have to play a bit of catch-up here. What with one thing and another there are several items from the last month or so that I meant to talk about but didn’t. Here’s one–or really, two that are at least thematically related. Both concern adoption rights of same sex couples and both are grounded in commitments to equal treatment.
First, in this opinion the European Court of Human Rights struck down an Austrian law that prevented the partner of a lesbian from adopting her partner’s child. The problem here was that Austria treated the lesbian couple differently than it would have treated a heterosexual couple. If the woman had a male partner he would have been allowed to adopt the child. It was only because her partner was female that the adoption was prohibited. Continue reading
As I wrote a couple of posts back, the New Mexico Supreme Court recently issued an important new decision in a case called Chatterjee v. King. A lesbian couple wanted to raise a child and decided to adopt a child from from Russia. Only one of them legally adopted the child and, when the women split up, the legal status of the second woman was at issue. (Russia would not have permitted the women to adopt jointly.) The NM Supreme Court recognized the second woman as a parent as well using a doctrine called “holding out.” For more detailed discussion, do go read that earlier post.
There’s an interesting concurrence as well. The author, Justice Bosson, is concerned about the application of the holding out doctrine to a range of circumstances. In order to explore Bosson’s points I felt I needed to discuss what the difference between Chatterjee’s position and someone we might call a step-parent, which was the point of my most recent post.
Now to the concurrence. Justice Bosson has a hypothetical that warrants attention, so I’ll just quote it, even though it is long:
Suppose a hypothetical Mother has two children with men who are no longer involved in their lives for whatever reason, including death. Continue reading
One of the comments on yesterday’s post raised an important question about how parentage via holding out works for step-parents. This is a question that arises as well with de facto parentage–a doctrine somewhat like holding out. It’s important and occupies the concurring opinion in the New Mexico case.
Before turning to that, though, there’s another point I’d like to raise. I’ll deal with this preliminary point in this post and turn to the holding out/step-parent problem in the next.
Here’s the thing: To my mind Chatterjee (the woman found to be a natural parent in the NM case) isn’t a step-parent. Continue reading
A while back I did a rather extended consideration of adoption and ART–how are they the same and how are they different? (I’ve arbitrarily chosen to link to a post in the middle of the run–there are some earlier ones, some later ones and tons of discussion in comments.) I suppose no task like that is ever finished–and notably missing is the “so what?” discussion that I think the whole exercise cries out for. I mean, once you go through all the discussion, what are the implications?
But all that aside, it occurred to me that there is another angle from which to view the topic and I thought it was worth returning to it for that reason. (Actually, I’m sure there are countless other angles, but this one leapt out at me earlier today.) Continue reading
There is a recent case out of Ohio that has got me thinking, even though it is unfortunately familiar in terms of its facts. Once again, sad to say, it concerns lesbian mothers, one of whom is behaving rather badly in my view.
Julie Ann Smith and Julie Rose Rowell were a lesbian couple. Smith gave birth to a daughter in 2003 while the women lived together. The daughter was conceived via AI and it appears to me that an unknown sperm provider was used.
The relationship ended in 2008, which means the child was around five. Smith refused Rowell any contact with the child and Rowell sued to gain shared custody. Continue reading
I’m still playing catch-up, writing about cases from the end of the year. Here’s an interesting case out of CA. The full opinion is here. I’m sorry to say that it is yet another in the line of “lesbians behaving badly” cases–by which I mean cases where one lesbian co-mother attempts to use the law to deny and destroy her lesbian co-mother’s relationship with the children. But I’m happy to report that in this case, the attempt was unsuccessful.
This is also a case that shows the distorting influence of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in contexts where you might not expect to find it. And though it has been a year since the repeal of the policy was announced, you can also see that the lingering effect of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could last for some time. Continue reading
I wanted to say a bit more about the decision I discussed yesterday. I strongly recommend you go back and read that post before heading on here, as I’ll only give the briefest summary.
Just before Christmas the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that a second-parent adoption was void ab initio–that is, void from the beginning, as if it never was. Now as I said, I don’t really have an opinion about North Carolina law and whether the Court is correct in interpreting the statutory structures there. My main concern–the one I want to rant about a bit here–is that the opinion doesn’t just affect the people involved in the case (two women who had co-parented a child). It appears to void all second-parent adoptions that have been completed in North Carolina.
That’s deeply troubling and quite unusual in the grand scheme of things. Continue reading