Sperm donor, or father?

Topekan William Marotta sought only to become a sperm donor — but now the state of Kansas is trying to have him declared a father.

Nearly four years ago, Marotta donated sperm in a plastic cup to a lesbian couple after responding to an ad they had placed on Craigslist.

Marotta and the women, Topekans Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, signed an agreement holding him harmless for support of the child, a daughter Schreiner bore after being artificially inseminated.

But the Kansas Department for Children and Families is now trying to have Marotta declared the 3-year-old girl’s father and forced to pay child support. The case is scheduled for a Jan. 8 hearing in Shawnee County District Court.

Hannah Schroller, the attorney defending Marotta, said the case has intriguing social and reproductive rights implications.

She said Marotta, a mechanic who has taken care of foster children with his wife, Kimberly, answered a Craigslist ad placed by Bauer and Schreiner seeking a sperm donor in March 2009.

The law in the only state in which I am familiar with the law is that it all depends on marital status. A donor who is married to the mother automatically becomes the father, but a donor who is not married to the mother has to adopt the child if he wants any parental rights and the concomitant obligations.

That strikes me as a much better criteria than the one that Kansas is apparently using (though I think all such contracts should be enforceable). Though I do understand the state’s interest here, this sort of thing is toxic to the extent that we want to encourage alternative paths to pregnancy. I’ve commented in the past that one of the main reason I would never become a donor – including an anonymous one with a clinic – is that some judge somewhere will come to the decision that such arrangements are not in the best interest of the child. This isn’t that, but it would still put me ill-at-ease.

So, Putin signed the law eliminating or heavily restricting adoption in the US.

The U.S. State Department said it “deeply regrets” the law announced by the Kremlin.

“The Russian government’s politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care,” it said in a statement. “We are further concerned about statements that adoptions already underway may be stopped and hope that the Russian government would allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parent to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families.”

The announcement was a wrenching one for Aaron and Jenny Moyer, coming in an adoption process that was well under way for them to become parents of a Russian orphan named Vitali. They carry photographs of them and Vitali together during their visits to Russia.

My understanding of Russian adoption is that it is often “buyer beware.” That there are a lot of problems with the kids having their special needs (or possible special needs) concealed. I sort of keep track of adoption law because we may be in the market for #2 and #3t. In this case, it doesn’t matter as much because my wife and I are not seen as desirable parents by the Russian adoption system anyway.


Category: Statehouse

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