Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In Gay Couple Custody Dispute, AP Wins over Bio Parent

The New York Post reports on a custody case pitting biological mother against her partner who adopted the child:
A Family Court judge has awarded full custody of a young child to her adopted mother, instead of her biological mom, in what is believed to be the first such New York state case involving a same sex couple.

Manhattan real estate attorney Allison Scollar defeated the little girl’s biological mom, Emmy-winning TV producer Brook Altman in a bitter court battle, the Post has learned.

“Love doesn’t just come from biology,” a relieved Scollar, 50, said days after being awarded custody and decision-making authority for her daughter, who turns 6 tomorrow. “And the minute I saw this little baby, I knew she was mine.

* * *

Manhattan Judge Gloria Sosa-Lintner said, “Although . . . Altman is the biological parent, this does not give her an automatic priority over the adoptive parent. This is analogous to a father getting custody of his own child, where only the best interests of the child are paramount.”

Scollar, the judge ruled, “is indeed the more responsible parent looking out for the child’s best interests, not her own interests” — while the 47-year-old Altman “behaved more as a friend or older sister than a responsible parent.”

Altman, who is co-CEO of the consulting and life coaching company The Handel Group, said, “This is just the end of the first phase. The judge ignored the evidence and issued a decision that is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. We’re appealing this decision and I’m confident we’re going to prevail.”
Reactions?  Should biology trump adoption?  Suppose this was a heterosexual stepparent adoption case -- the couple divorces, and the court considers custody.  Should legal adoptive/step-mom or bio dad get custody? Reverse the sexes -- should legal adoptive/step-dad or bio mom get custody? Should these kinds of cases be decided as any other custody case, disregarding distinctions of biology or adoption?


Stephanie said...

What I found disgusting is how the judge claimed "biology is irrelevant", and how the woman awarded custody claimed "the second I saw this child I knew she was mine".

Both are dehumanizing and degrading to natural families the world over. Biology is not irrelevant. If not for biology none of us would be here. Our genetic makeup is where we come from, where our ancestors come from. How is that not relevant? How is that so important, to even adopters, except when of course they are in possession of someone else's family member, then all the sudden it is "not so important"... when even their biological families mean the world to them. If adoption is so grand, let them offer up their children and grandchildren. I'd like to hear their point of view then.

I will say right now that even though my childhood was not picture perfect, not for one second do I wish I was not raised among MY people, my genetic and biological family. Biology is irrelevant? Bullshit.

What is happening in this country in regards to adoption; e.g. entitlement of other people's children and how "unimportant" biological ties are is quite scary. What are we coming to, a society that will snatch a child from his mother and claim he will be better off with someone else, so your SOL? WOW.

Hold on tight to your children. Even the judges are in on the adoptorama now...

Lorraine Dusky said...

As a mother who relinquished a child, I found the words used by the adoptive mother more than irritating but absurd, but it is the language one often hears around adoption--except when people don't think others aren't listening.

>Love and care can make up for a lot of things, but biology is irrelevant? Tell that to the adoptees in search, the mothers in waiting.

I just covered the same subject over at firstmotherforum.

susan said...

As a lesbian mother, I don't think that the appropriate comparison is to a heterosexual stepparent adoption case, but rather to a heterosexual divorce. I realize that the role of fathers and sperm donors are complicated, but that child came into the world as the daughter of two women who had decided to bring a child into the world together. I'm no expert on the status of NY State law about known donors, but a second parent adoption for lesbians is not the same thing as a step parent adoption for straight people. A second parent adoption is the only way to get legal acknowledgement for the relationship that already exists.

Does biology matter? Of course it does. But I want to consider this case in the context of the lesbian family, which complicates it.