Thursday, May 15, 2014

Jason Patric wins right to be a 'father'

Jason Patric--sperm donor and daddy
UPDATE: A California Appellate Court yesterday reversed a lower court which held that as a sperm donor, Jason Patric had no rights concerning his child--even though he was the only father the child had ever known. The Appellate Court sent the case back to the lower court to determine Patric's legal rights, The case is expected to resume at trial where it left off in February, 2013. In this case, common sense and the law converged. The post below was written before the decision, and it trumpets our belief than whenever possible, the rights of the biological parents of a child should be preserved--not only for the father and mother, but also for the health and well-being of the child. 
 ________________________


Once upon a time fathers were fathers. Most took pride in their offspring and cared for them as well as they could. Yes, some men left their children to go hunting or to war; or because they became enamored with another woman or were scoundrels or drunks; Some fathers had many children with many women. Still fatherhood was a fact and the word "father" did not require a modifier.

Today, thanks to "modern thinking" disavowing the importance of blood ties and technological advances, in addition to real fathers, there are biological fathers, first fathers, adoptive fathers, psychological fathers, and non-father fathers, that is, sperm donors.

Such is the case of Jason Patric, a man whose DNA his son carries but, because Patric got the legal stuff wrong, is in danger of losing all contact with his son. Patric's case is different from that of  Dusten Brown, John Wyatt, Ramsey Shaud, Robert Manzanares and other men who lost their children to adoption. But, like these men, the cause of Patric's lost fatherhood is the treachery of his child's s mother.

Patric, a Hollywood actor, and Danielle Schreiber, the daughter of a prominent lawyer and investor, had been romantically involved but the relationship cooled. They remained friends, however, and when she decided she wanted to be a mother, he offered his sperm.

After the birth of their son Gus, Patric and Schreiber rekindled their romance and moved in together for two years. Patric helped care for his son. The couple broke up in June, 2012 and Patric filed a paternity action for shared custody. For a time he continued to see his son. Then Schreiber began to withhold visits because, according to her lawyer, Schreiber saw Patric as increasingly threatening and hostile. Patric denied he was threatening or hostile.

Schreiber obtained a restraining order and fought Patric's legal action based on a California statue that said a sperm donor is not a legal father unless the parties agree before conception that he will be. Patric and Schreiber had no such agreement even though he signed "intended parent" forms at the sperm-donor clinic. The trial court bought Schreiber's argument, tossed his case out of court, and Patric has appealed.

Hollywood celebrities have lined up for Patric including Mel Gibson, Jon Hamm, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chelsea Handler, Kiefer Sutherland, Nikki Reed, Chris Noth, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, and Mark Wahlberg. Patric has created a foundation, Stand Up for Gus, which has raised more than $200,000 to provide legal services to low income clients in similar family-law situations.
William Marotta

Meanwhile out in the heartland, sperm donor William Marotta has been ordered by a Kansas court to pay support for his daughter. Marotta responded to an ad on Craig's List by a lesbian couple for a sperm donor. He gave them three cups of his sperm "gratis" and one of the women gave birth to a daughter in December, 2009. The couple split up and when illness forced the mother to quit work, she went on welfare. The state turned to Marotta for support even though he had an agreement with the couple that he would not be the legal father--and would not be responsible for the child.

Jane
Because a physician did not perform the insemination as required by Kansas law, the court held that the agreement was invalid, and Marotta had to pay support. Marotta is outraged, saying it proves "no good deed goes unpunished." Pundits wail that the decision may mean fewer men will donate sperm. Marotta has met his daughter only once, when he and his wife ran into her and one of her mothers at a carnival. He says he has no intention of being her parent.

FMF hopes that Patric will win his case; another California law allows a man to establish paternity if he takes his child into his home and holds the child out as his natural child. Surely California appellate judges cannot be so blind as not to see Patric's pain in losing his son and the value Patric has to his son.

FMF hopes Marotta loses his appeal. His daughter is not a good deed gone bad but a real human being who needs support. Besides the legalities-- a man should not be able to contract away his fatherhood, treating his child is disposable property, and foisting her support onto the tax payers--Marotta's treatment of his daughter is unconscionable. Think how she will feel in the future when she sees video clips of him expressing his outrage at being forced to support his daughter. A court cannot force Marotta to act like a decent human being, but at least he should be allowed to let her live in poverty if he has the means to support her.

FMF has no problem with single women or lesbian couples having children through sperm donation. However, we believe that the children are entitled to know their fathers and have a relationship with them.

Dan and Rene with daughter Luna
Ideally, single mothers and lesbian couples should expand their family to include their child's father. This is the course that Rose Acre and her partner Maria took. Their eight year old daughter Luna has two dads, Rene who provided half her DNA and his partner Dan, as well as two mothers. "'We like our choice,' Acre told CNN. 'We are undeniably Luna's parents, but there is a special place for the daddies forged by our trust and enriched by her love. She knows where she came from and that the daddies made it happen. and so do we.'"

________________________________
SOURCES
Jason Patric Wins Appeal
Does 'Sperm Donor Mean 'Dad'?
Kansas court says sperm donor must pay child support
William Marotta, Kansas Sperm Donor, Fighting Order to Pay Child Support
My daughter's two dads: A different kind of fatherhood

FROM FMF:
Sperm donor children should have the right to their identity
Supreme Court rules against Indian Father, Limits Indian Child Welfare Act
Father's Day 2010: Unmarried fathers who fight for their rights to be a dad

RECOMMENDED READING
Superdads: How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century
"The gender revolution has stalled—but not stopped. Read Superdads on a day when, down in the dumps, you think nothing has changed. Kaufman’s fascinating interviews show how the nurturing father ideal has changed men’s lives, making many willing to shift work responsibilities to meet family caregiving needs." -Joan C. Williams, author of Reshaping The Work-Family Debate

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ORDERS ANYTHING THROUGH FMF!  please remember us when ordering from amazon or through the ads on the left from Blogher. Just click on the book jacket or title. 


12 comments :

  1. I understand that FMF supports Jason Patric, but for me it is all about "the intent of the sperm." If he and Danielle Schreiber had gotten pregnant and he did everything else that followed the same way (e.g., refused to have his name entered onto the baby's birth certificate) except he refused parental participation, nothing could be done except to require financial support from him. And, good luck getting that, in light of the mother's financial status. Schreiber, for her part, was short sighted in thinking she could get sperm from a friend (they weren't in a relationship at the time) and have a baby all to herself. Neither of them thought of the best interests of their child.

    Now, with all their animosity and vitrol against each other, they will be chained together through this little boy for the next 2+ decades. What a horrible situation for all of them, unless they can rise above it for their son who did nothing to deserve all this. Let this be a cautionary tale for those who think getting some sperm from a friend (who will then go away) will solve all their problems.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lesbians are much more likely to use sperm banks because of custody threats.

    Families are less bio-normative. We're queering the family. It's the future -- non biological families, no pretending, no stigma.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, but that child is still a biological fact and deserves to know their heritage. If treating kids like commodities is the future, I don't want any part of it. There OUGHT to be a stigma against treating human beings like chattel, especially for a political cause.

      The fact is that gay couples are different. They are NOT exactly like heterosexual couples. That doesn't mean they should be banned or prevented from parenting, but them trying to pretend they're hetero is exactly where this nonsense is coming from. That doesn't fly with me. Infertile couples are also different from fertile couples and I feel the same way about them. If you have to have a third party's participation to be able to raise a child then face it, acknowledge it and live with it. Quit trying to legislate it away. You're only hurting the child(ren) in the long run and you have no right to do that.

      Delete
  3. I know that you meant three wee medical-office "cups of sperm" donated by William Marotta. However, when first reading it, I pictured the tower of Pyrex measuring cups in my kitchen--one cup, two cups, four cups--and let out a great guffaw. What a guy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Has anybody else been watching 'Generation Cryo'? It's really interesting. Eighteen young adults born in six different families as a result of one anonymous donor go looking for information about him. Each has a different, and often changing, feeling about the search: some are enthusiastic, others reticent. The programme also follows the reaction of the parents who raised them, which ranges from wholly supportive and open, to intensely unnerved and upset.

    I like the way the programme created a public space for the feelings, perspectives and lived experience of the individuals born via this method - I don't think that's been done before. As in closed adoption, dialogue around anonymous donor insemination has typically focused on the needs and desires of the parents/prospective parents, with consideration rarely given to what the child may eventually want to know, holistically, about the influences on her health and personality, her hidden heritage and position within an ancestral continuity, or any of the other mysteries that live in our biological connections with each other. As in closed adoption, these unknown or unacknowledged elements are frequently erased or minimised as unimportant by the adults, with the baby regarded as, and expected to be, a 'blank slate' in this particular respect.

    In this programme, the young adults immediately identify as siblings, and feel very connected to each other. During the programme, some of the dynamics and dialogues I've seen in conversations within the adoption community appear. I found it really illuminating, but mostly I was cheering these young people as they and their needs and feelings took centre stage at last. I really wished a similar public space could be given to adopted persons.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cherry, I hadn't heard of it and discovered that it is on MTV. Certainly sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Cherry, for telling us about this program. I'll try to set up my TiVo to record it and try to find old programs on Netflix.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think there are five episodes (but I might be wrong).
    It's not an in-depth documentary, and is definitely made for entertainment. But it does broach questions that I haven't seen considered in the mass media before.

    ReplyDelete
  8. At the risk of hogging this comments section, and also realising this is tangentially connected to your article...

    Has anyone else noticed the contemporary mangling of words like 'pregnancy', whose meaning once seemed pretty clear and indisputable? I keep coming across phrases like 'Yes, we're pregnant' or 'We found out last week we are pregnant' - spoken by couples where only one of them is actually pregnant. Perhaps they mean 'We're expecting a baby' but why not say that? I don't think anyone was particularly flummoxed by that in the past.

    I say this because I wonder whether the sheer, specific amazingness of pregnancy, and the intense and private one-to-one relationship within it, is being subtley erased in the public mind (and therefore, eventually, in our thoughts) by being unacknowledged.

    I know in pro-adoption circles, the experience of pregnancy has been vanished out of all conversation (unless the mother did something dreadful during it). Birth itself has been reduced to a virtual cough.

    I just find it interesting to notice a culture diminishing one of the most enormous experiences of a human being's life (for both mother and baby), and it makes me wonder why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This country is very woman-hating. I'm sure the diminishing of pregnancy has its roots in that fact. And our children are paying the price too.

      Delete
  9. Agree with both of you, Dana and Cherry.

    This "we're pregnant" line was occasionally heard back when I was popping out baby boys twentyodd years ago, but it was considered twee, if not saccharine, in our crowd. Certainly my husband would never have said such a thing.

    And yes, sadly, the U.S. still diminishes women's labors in the most basic of ways... gestation and birth. A wise friend calmed me right down, years ago, when I was in a frenzy about reading one of the first long comprehensive articles about egg "donors." She said, "If that had been an option when you were in college, you'd have driven yourself equally nuts over whether to do it. You've sold your blood, didn't you say?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Modern technology (surrogacy, egg donation, etc.), unfortunately, makes it even easier to translate disrespect of women into diminishing the value of her body's ability to carry a child. I remember once dating a guy who said, "I would never let you ruin your body by carrying a baby. We'll leave that to a surrogate." Can't believe I continued to date him for a while after that - I guess I was just too young and foolish.

      Delete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.

THOSE WHO WISH TO LEAVE LINKS PLEASE WRITE MORE ABOUT IT THAN SIMPLY LEAVE THE LINK--TELL US WHY WE SHOULD GO THERE--AND ALSO KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT COPY AND PASTE FROM LINKS. We are unlikely to post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.