|Jason Patric--sperm donor and daddy|
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.
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.
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|
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