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Whose Children Are These and What Do We Do With Them?

Jul 12, 2008
With the introduction of family unit that no longer resembles that of the Cleavers, the question of "whose kids are these anyway" became a reality. There is the concept of blended families where the second wife and husband bring their children from their respective prior marriages together "The Brady Bunch." That bunch may be expanded to include stepchildren of either as part of the new family. It's not just the younger side of this group that has changed; mom and dad are now, on occasion, Dad and Pops or Mom and Mother. The traditional family may be some not so traditional families including gay and lesbian parents.

By far the most prevalent new family structure is the single parent family, most often a woman and her children who are on their own after a divorce. Fathers also fit the description of single parents, and more often families are headed by dad as the single parent.

There is now the surrogate parent family where the child may be the biological child of only one or neither of the two parents. This status, made possible by the wonders of genetic science, is mired in the swamplands of the law where the requirements with regard to a valid surrogacy contract are often ill-defined and difficult to enforce.

So long as these families remain intact, the lives of the children seem not to be impacted by the makeup of their parents or the sexual orientation of the parent. As with the children of the traditional couple, it is when the family separates that the children suffer.

The law is not helpful in these difficult situations. In a recent case, half of a lesbian couple lost not just custody but visitation of the child whom she had helped to raise for the first eight years of the child's life. The mother of the child had been impregnated through artificial insemination; the partner had not adopted the child. On their separation, the court found that she had no rights at all, not even to visit with the child. We have to wonder whether that abrupt loss in that child's life is in the best interests of the child?

Gay and lesbian adoptions are becoming more common in some states. Generally, most states allow an unmarried person to adopt a child if that person can meet the jurisdictional and legal requirements for adoption. The next step is to find a jurisdiction that will allow the second half of the homosexual couple to adopt the child. In California this can be accomplished depending on a demonstration to the Court that such an adoption world be in the child's best interest. Generally, the courts will approve such a petition; after all, two parents are better than one. The child is protected in the event of the death of one parent, and the sad case of the sudden disappearance of one parent from the child's life is avoided in the event of the breakup of the couple.

The relationship between a stepparent and the child in divorce is becoming more and more of an issue. In many of our modern families, a stepparent has a closer relationship with the child than does the non-custodial natural parent.

When the custodial parent and the stepparent terminate their relationship, often those children will surfer greatly. It may be difficult, but if the emotional needs of those children include seeing the stepparent, those visitations must be arranged. The custodial parent's anger at the stepparent or the stepparent's desire to punish the spouse by not seeing the children must be set aside to make way of the needs of the children. After all, this will be the second marital breakup for those children.
About the Author
Adoption is a legal process as a result of which you assume the responsibilities and privileges of being the adoptive-not the natural legal parent of another person. More information about legal advice online please go to http://www.trafficlegaladvice.info Thanks.
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