Parenting situations getting more complicated
Parenthood is becoming more complicated in this era of same-sex couples, and a case in Florida has provided evidence that it will be particularly important to ensure legal realities are acknowledged.
A judge in that state has for the first time approved the listing of three parents on a child's birth certificate: a married lesbian couple and a gay man who served as a sperm donor.
The couple had sought unsuccessfully to have a child through a fertility clinic. They asked a male friend to provide sperm, and the mother was then able to conceive. But complications emerged.
When the couple decided to adopt the child their friend had fathered, he decided he didn't want to be considered a sperm donor but rather have the rights of a father. Typically, sperm donors don't have any parental rights.
The female couple resisted and the father insisted. There had supposedly been a verbal agreement, but that is a mistake in something as important as parenthood. People change their minds over time.
The dispute ended up in court and after a two-year battle, the result was the three-parent birth certificate. The judge ruled the women would actually raise the child, but the father would be allowed regular visits. Hopefully, all sides will be satisfied.
It is an issue that could surface more frequently in the future as the values of our society change and we transition to a time when there are new accepted definitions of couples and parents.
The legal system is sometimes slow in keeping up with societal changes. In the interim, the burden to ensure that necessary legal protections are in place falls on the individuals involved. It is not something to be taken casually.