I'm sure most of you are familiar with the TV show Grey's Anatomy and might even know the current storyline between Callie and Arizona, the married lesbian couple with a daughter birthed by Callie and raised by both. When things get rough between the two women, however, Callie leaves Arizona and takes the child without discussion or warning, leaving Arizona panicked about the whereabouts of her family. Then Callie refuses to let Arizona see their daughter.
Far-fetched? Unfortunately, no. This storyline is taken straight from reality.
Let me see if I can spell this out. In a heterosexual marriage, the parents are considered a unit. The biological mother could not hide the child or keep the father from seeing the child. Well, she could, but there would be significant legal ramifications, as in many states the husband is the "presumed" father by default. But lesbian bio-moms can and do keep former partners (other moms) from seeing the child or children, and without the legal wrangling.
So even when lesbians plan and then have a child together, the one who is not the biological mom can lose her child, which is not the case for heterosexual couples. Married or not, in most states there is no "presumption of parenthood" for lesbians without biological delivery.
For example, I legally adopted my son as a "second parent." But the adoption was by "agreement" of the bio mom, and this county-level legal action has been questioned in other states and counties. Vulnerable? Hell yes.
Even when the child has your last name, you can lose the child. Even when the child calls you "Mom," you can lose the child. Even when you have lived with and cared for your own child, you can lose the child. So you resolve to love your child no matter how much time you have or don't have, knowing the child will grow up someday and value and appreciate the loving relationship the two of you have. Hopefully.
This raises the following question: With the legalization of same-sex marriage, should gays and lesbian still have to adopt our own children? And does adopting your own child offer any more assurance of equal time and equal treatment in the case of divorce? In a heterosexual marriage, children born into the relationship are presumed to be legally parented by both partners, regardless of biological delivery. Thus the legal recognition of both parents remains even if the marriage ends. Shouldn't this assumption of legal parenting be one of the rights bestowed with homosexual marriage as it is in heterosexual marriage?
In my opinion, the time is now to extend presumptive parenthood to both members of a lesbian relationship when it can be shown that the child was planned, conceived and welcomed into an intact (even if struggling) relationship.
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