When Does a Man Become a Dad? When the State Says So

Over the years, American culture and its view on what “family” means has changed drastically.  Same sex marriage (while not allowed everywhere) is not as shocking as it once was.  Single motherhood has become acceptable and many couples feel that marriage is becoming obsolete.  Despite these radically shifting social views, the laws in the U.S. governing what makes up a “family” are slow to keep up.  And the people impacted the most by these legal doctrines are sometimes the least aware of them.

Take Chukwudera Okoli, who married his wife, Blessing, in 1991.  Despite years of trying to conceive, the couple remained childless through the years – including when they separated in 2001.  However, in 2003, Blessing became pregnant with twins through the use of in vitro fertilization, using donor sperm and a donor egg. On March 6 2012, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed a decision by a judge from Probate and Family Court  requiring Okoli to pay child support to the twins.

Usually, there would be nothing unusual about a married parent being required to pay child support.  Massachusetts, like New York, has a legal presumption that a man is the legal father of any child to whom his wife gives birth to, in addition to a law aimed specifically at artificial insemination, which recognizes the husband as the legal father of children his wife has conceived through artificial insemination.  Though Okoli and his wife were separated, they were not divorced (i.e. they were still married) at the time of the birth of the twins and neither of the parents is genetically related to the children. … <Read More>

Adult Adoption – The Fastest Way to a Woman’s Heart?

Most people think of adoption as making an existing family relationship whole, particularly when an adult adoption is being made.  Many reasons can hold an adoption of a minor back until the age of majority, such as not being able to get the birth parents’ consent, or in the case of stepparents, the child not feeling close enough to the stepparent to be adopted so soon.  But typically, one would expect an adult who agrees to be adopted by another to have some form of parent-child relationship with the person about to adopt her.  Otherwise, why would she even consent to being adopted?

Maybe for access to the trust he set up for his teenaged kids, worth up to an annual payment of $5,000,000?  It’s why the multimillionaire founder of the polo club in Wellington, Florida, John Goodman, age 48, adopted his 42 year old girlfriend.<Read More>

What Is the Best Interest of Adopted Chinese Children?

The implementation of China’s One-Child Policy led to a rise in children being put up for adoption – particularly girls – and also served as an attraction for Westerners looking to adopt what they believed to be unfortunate, abandoned children.  And this became a pretty lucrative market for China, as John Leland, author of the New York Times article, For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers, points out.  So much so that certain provinces began trafficking children into their orphanages in order to receive a $5,000 donation per child from Western foreigners looking to adopt.

With the One-Child Policy in place, it might not make sense why trafficking children would even be necessary, especially since Leland’s first article focused on Chinese mothers whose second child was taken away.  However, the policy does not mean that extra children are automatically taken away by the Chinese government, but that the families might be ineligible for certain government benefits if they opt to keep the child.  That is not what happened, according to the birth mothers in this article.  One of these women claims the Official who came to her door gave her two options: Give up her second child.  Or undergo tubal ligation.

The companion piece to Leland’s first article called, One Answer to Adoption’s Difficult Questions, is even more chilling.  The article chronicled one American adoptive mother’s experience in attempting to find out where her daughter’s birth mother was, and whether or not they had been separated forcibly.

It’s a frightening thought that you might wake up in the middle of the night to your adopted daughter – who was supposedly abandoned at 2 weeks old – crying, “I miss my birth mom.”… <Read More>

Proposal to Delay Divorce: Second Chances Act

A recent study done by sociologists Paul Amato and Alan Booth on divorcing couples in Minnesota came out with a surprising result: a third of them were open to the idea of reconciling with their spouse, even when they were already deep in the divorce process.  What’s more is that studies have shown that the “average” divorce is not between couples who bicker constantly and have high levels of conflicts for years before the divorce (although those still make up roughly 33% – 50% of divorces).  The “average” divorce (50% – 66%) is between couples who have low-level conflicts and average happiness levels in their marriage;  they usually occur around the 5th year of marriage. Couples who have been married for well over 5 years reported they ran into similar conflicts every couple of years but remained married and got past it.  The implication here is that about of third of marriages on the road to divorce are actually salvageable, yet the couples involved simply don’t realize it.… <Read More>

Dropping Divorce Rates for Educated Americans… Is it all Good?

Divorce rates may be on the rise for most Americans, but they are actually decreasing when it comes to college-educated couples.  At first glance, this might appear like a good thing; couples getting married only when they’re truly ready and plan to stay together.  But what about the stigma attached to the couples that do wind up getting a divorce in this segment of the population?  And what happens to the eleven percent of college-educated couples that split and find themselves the only divorcée in their circle of friends?… <Read More>