What If a Village Really Will Raise a Child?

by Marisha

One week ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill into law that allows California children to have more than two legal parents. The bill was partially a response to a case where a lesbian couple broke up and couldn’t parent the child. The child’s biological father wasn’t allowed to take the child and, instead, the girl was sent into foster care.

Here’s a link to an article about this bill.

I don’t know why a judge couldn’t choose a biological parent over foster parents, but knowing the thickly scarred institutions of California, I am betting it’s because he hadn’t gone through proper foster parent certification. Why it was necessary to allow for more than two parents instead of a bill that would give a biological parent the first place position in a case like this, I do not know.

But my imaginative brain is just spinning over this. My first thoughts went to adoption. If more than two parents can legally parent a child, then open adoption could change to something new. Rather than the very different roles of legal adoptive parents and the birth mother (and in some cases birth father, if he’s involved), all three or four could “equally” parent the child.

You think kids learn to play one parent off the other NOW (whether the parents are married or divorced)? I realize that when some adoptees get a little older–say, teen years–they may do this anyway in an open adoption, but if all parents have the same legal status, what will happen?  And what if there are more than three or four parents? I haven’t read of a limit on the number of legal parents. What if an entire village decides it really is going to parent a child?

Where does YOUR mind travel when you think about this new law?

Comments

  1. Seriously? Where does my mind travel when I read this? This will take a few days to sort out. In my mind, I mean.

  2. Exactly where yours did. I don’t like that a child can have more than 2 legal parents. I think it would have been much better to revise the “who counts as kin in a kinship placement” laws.

    • Because this has SO many ramifications (I can’t even think of them all yet), why in the world didn’t they go about it fixing it in the way that you mention? I don’t get why they made this leap.

      • Honestly, neither do I. I actually started a blog post about this the first time I heard of it, and writing it, thinking of all of the issues… it made my head explode. I really can’t believe it’s law now.

  3. Lisa Ercolano says:

    It’s very interesting and complicated — that’s for sure! It brought to my mind a Fresh Air segment I heard last week, in which author Andrew Solomon mentioned that he donated sperm to a lesbian friend so she and her partner could have children, and then, in return, one of the woman donated an egg and carried a child (or children — I can’t remember) for Andrew and his husband. He described the situation as the kids all having at least four parents.

    • I think Andrew is very happy at being a parent and has a naive and optimistic viewpoint, but that isn’t how reality is going to play out in so many cases, I (sadly) predict. And what does that have to do with legal parenting? Are all 4 legal parents of the children of both couples?

  4. Dottiepark says:

    My mind goes to the situation happening to a dear lesbian couple who were recently separated by death. ML had a son she adopted with a previous partner before she married MB. ML died, and MB has no legal right to the 17-year-old boy she has helped raise for over 10 years. He goes to a special needs school and the tuition is paid by the township…but if they find out he is no longer a legal resident (not living with a parent in the district), they’ll stop paying and it could get very ugly. Thank God the previous partner is very agreeable and would do anything to avoid this.

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