Saturday, May 28, 2011

No more than two parents per child

That's a pretty fundamental principle of law in American states -- children can have no more than two legal parents.  So when it comes to assisted reproduction, courts and legislatures go to great lengths to recognize no more than two of the potential parents as legal parents.  Statutes exist that say when a married woman has a baby with the use of a sperm donor, the sperm donor isn't a parent, only she and her husband are parents.  Can't have three parents, after all! In cases where one woman's eggs are fertilized by one man's sperm, and implanted into another woman's womb, with the intention that yet another woman and another man will parent the child, courts work hard to recognize only TWO of these potential parents as the legal parents. Can't have five parents, after all!

And when it comes to adoption, the parental rights of the birth parents have to be terminated before the adoption by a single parent or a couple.  Can't have three or four legal parents, after all! About the only exception to this is a California statute that recognizes tribal customary adoption, which allows for adoption without terminating the parental rights of the birth parents.

So that's what intrigued me about this sweet adoption story, a baby born prematurely with many problems, who is now a thriving 3-year-old with three legal adoptive parents:
Bellevue residents Nancy and Ed Peterson, 67 and 75, and their daughter Tami Peterson, 44, are all Danny’s legal, adoptive parents.

“We know we won’t live long enough to see Danny through life,” said Nancy, who with Ed has worked as a foster parent for 43 years and cared for more than a 100 children, many with special needs. “With Tami as his other parent, we can be sure of a seamless changeover.”
Wow!  How did they get a judge to do this, allowing three parents to adopt?  I think it makes a lot of sense in the circumstances, but a lot of courts would pull out the no-more-than-two-parents rule and potentially deny the adoption by the elder Petersons because of their ages.
So what do you think?  Should courts recognize more than two legal parents when it would be in the best interest of the child to do so?

1 comment:

Megan said...

It is ridiculous to me that a person can only have two legal parents in this day and age. Coming from a blended family with step-parents (I even met my step-father before I met my biological father), it seems weird that my step-parents couldn't be my legal parents as well (unless one of my biological parents gave up their parental rights and one of my step-parents legally adopted me). Families are complicated. Why can't laws catch up with the reality?