Quote of the Day - When he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the street, I always hope he's dead.
If you grew up in rural America in the depression, and perhaps even into the 50's, then you likely remember situations where families "took in" children from other families without much ado. Frequently, it was necessitated by the death of parents, an abusive situation or children born out of wedlock. We just took care of each other, especially children without parents. That was the norm. Today, we have nuclear families that are more like nuclear fission families.
Courts have always struggled with how to reconcile family struggles. As a society, we've added much more variety into the mix with divorce, combined families, families with parents who have alternative lifestyles, single parents and even children born from artificial insemination. It's enough to make your head spin.
Take, for example, this case where a child was born to a married woman, Kim, and a married man, except that they weren't married to each other. Kim and the married man had an extramarital affair that resulted in a child. The married man and his wife, Amy, not only stayed together, but they also raised the child in their home from the time he was a month old. Kim and her husband separated upon the child's birth. Amy and the married man have two daughters, and Kim has one child, Nathan, who is now being raised by Amy and the married man (let's call him the Father).
Here's where things get tricky. At the end of her pregnancy, Kim left California and went to Virginia, where she had Nathan. The Father, also from California, went to Virginia and met Kim in a hotel lobby to pick up Nathan. The Father presented Kim with an adoption and non-visitation agreement drafted by a law firm in Maryland. Kim signed the agreement in Father's limousine. N.B. here that the Court threw in the part about the limousine. It's a "fact" designed to color the picture of the story. Father brought Nathan back to California, where he lived with Father and Amy.
Well, here's where things really get tricky. Kim sued for a parentage determination in her favor, excluding Amy, and for visitation rights. She claims she was pressured into signing the agreement. Amy jumps in now, and tries to assert that she's the Mother, filing documents with the Court to assert her rights.
The Court strikes her papers and rules that because she didn't adopt Nathan, she has no right to argue that she's the Mother. The Court states that California law recognizes only one mother, and that's the biological mother. Amy is out of luck. The ruling? A woman who is not the biological mother of a child is not the presumed mother and cannot assert the rights of the mother.
The only way to do that is through adoption, where the government reissues a birth certificate changing the name of the biological mother.