3 parents 1 child.....poor kids!

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- 3 parents 1 child.....poor kids!

Post by Christ is My Life! on Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:08 am

By ELIZABETH MARQUARDT - NYT

July 16, 2007


SOMETIMES when the earth shudders it doesn't make a sound.
That's what happened in Harrisburg, Pa., recently.

On April 30, a state Superior Court panel ruled that a child
can have three legal parents. The case, Jacob v.
Shultz-Jacob, involved two lesbians who were the legal
co-parents of two children conceived with sperm donated by a
friend. The panel held that the sperm donor and both women
were all liable for child support. Arthur S. Leonard, a
professor at New York Law School, observed, "I'm unaware of
any other state appellate court that has found that a child
has, simultaneously, three adults who are financially
obligated to the child's support and are also entitled to
visitation."

The case follows a similar decision handed down by a
provincial court in Ontario in January. In what appeared to
be the first such ruling in any Western nation, the court
ruled that a boy can legally have three parents. In that case
the biological mother and father had parental rights and
wished for the biological mother's lesbian partner, who
functions as the boy's second mother, to have such rights as
well.

The idea of assigning children three legal parents is not
limited to North America. In 2005, expert commissions in
Australia and New Zealand proposed that sperm or egg donors
be allowed to "opt in" as a child's third parent. That same
year, scientists in Britain received state permission to
create an embryo from the DNA of three adults, raising the
real possibility that they all could be granted equal legal
claims to the child if the embryo developed to term.

Astonishingly, few legal experts, politicians or social
commentators have considered the enormous risks these rulings
and proposals pose for children. Those who have noticed tend
to say they are nothing new, because many children already
grow up with several parent figures. But this fails to
recognize that stepchildren and adopted children still have
only two legal parents.

Supporters of the rulings argue that if two parents are good
for children, aren't three better? True, some three-parent
petitions are brought by adults who appear deeply committed
to the child in question. In the Ontario case, the two women
and the father all seem devoted to the boy. But in
Pennsylvania, the sperm donor, whom the children called
"Papa," was ordered to pay child support over his objections,
and the lesbian co-mothers have already ended their
relationship.

What is the harm if other American courts follow
Pennsylvania's example? For one thing, three-parent
situations typically involve a couple and a third person
living separately, meaning the child will get shuffled
between homes, and this raises problems.

A few years ago, along with Norval Glenn, a sociologist at
the University of Texas, I compiled the first nationwide
study of children who grow up in so-called "good" divorces -
that is, families in which both divorced parents stay
involved in the child's life and control their own conflict.
We found that even these children must grow up traveling
between two worlds, having to make sense on their own of the
different values, beliefs and ways of living they find in
each home. They have to grow up too soon. When a court
assigns a child several parents, some of whom never intend to
share a home, they consign that child, at best, to a "good"
divorce situation.

Of course, sometimes the three adults might want to live
together, which leads to a different set of concerns. As one
advocate of polygamy argued in Newsweek, "If Heather can have
two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and
a daddy." If more children are granted three legal parents,
what is our rationale for denying these families the rights
and protections of marriage? America, get ready for the
group-marriage debate.

And these are merely the worries if the three parents
cooperate. But, as the Pennsylvania case shows, they may not.
Conflicts will undoubtedly arise when three parents confront
the sticky, conflict-ridden reality of child-raising, often
leading to a nasty, three-way custody battle. Even if they
part amicably, they may still want to live in three different
homes. In that case, how many homes should children travel
between to satisfy the parenting needs of many adults?

Finally, why should courts stop at assigning children only
three parents? Some situations involve a couple who wants the
child, the sperm donor, the egg donor and the gestational
surrogate who carries the pregnancy. If we allow three legal
parents, why not five?

Fortunate children have many people who love them as much as
their parents do. But in the best interests of children, no
court should break open the rule of two when assigning legal
parenthood.

Elizabeth Marquardt, a vice president of the Institute for
American Values, is the author of the forthcoming "My Daddy's
Name Is Donor.
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