The Great Debate
Note: this blog has little to do with faith and religion and more to do with politics and the new South Carolina laws regarding marriage.
Recently, two good friends of mine started on their journey to expand on their family together. They found a donor through a cryobank, went to a clinic and had blood work done, found out she was completely healthy, and went through the whole process before waiting for two weeks… only to be disappointed at the end of it.
I have faith that the Gods will bless her with a family, but I understand it is hard dealing with disappointment like this and circumstances that are really just out of her control.
Erin and I have talked a lot about starting a family of our own, and we’ve talked about using a known donor vs. an ID-release donor from a cryobank, and trying at home vs. trying at a clinic, and ultimately, we made the decision to be safe and use the ID-release donor and a clinic. When we were making this decision, I prayed a lot about it, and trying at home with a known donor never felt right. It felt cheap, but it never felt right.
I started doing a lot of research into South Carolina’s laws, and I found some fairly interesting things:
South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 63 South Carolina Children’s Code
Chapter 9 Adoptions
Article 1 South Carolina Adoption Act
Subarticle 8. Responsible Father Registry
SECTION 63-9-810. State interest; purpose of registry. [SC ST SEC 63-9-810]
The State has a compelling interest in promptly providing stable and permanent homes for adoptive children and in preventing the disruption of adoptive placements. It is the purpose of the Responsible Father Registry to provide notice to unmarried biological fathers who affirmatively assume responsibility for children they may have fathered by registering with the Responsible Father Registry.
HISTORY: 2009 Act No. 41, § 1, eff January 1, 2010.
SECTION 63-9-820. Registry established; definitions; claims of paternity; promulgation of regulations; unauthorized use. [SC ST SEC 63-9-820]
(L) An unmarried biological father’s failure to file a claim of paternity with the registry is deemed to be a lack of proper diligence under Section 63-9-770(B). An unmarried biological father’s lack of knowledge of the biological mother’s pregnancy does not excuse an unmarried biological father’s failure to file a claim of paternity pursuant to this chapter. An unmarried biological father’s sexual intercourse or his consent to artificial insemination with the biological mother is deemed to be notice to the unmarried biological father of the biological mother’s pregnancy.
From this, it seems that if a couple uses a known sperm donor at home without any legal protections for themselves or their donor, that if the donor so chooses to at any point in the future, he can register with the Responsible Father Registry to assume responsibility for the child. It also seems like if a biological father doesn’t file with the registry, it’s seen by the state as a lack of proper diligence.
I spoke with a friend of mine who has used a known donor, and she went through a clinic even though they had a known donor so that he and they would be protected because he gives up his rights as a parent by handing over the donation to the doctor. But on top of that, to be safe, they have 30 page document for each of their children outlining how their relationship will work.
When Erin and I went to a meeting at church about the rights and laws of LGBT people, we learned that if a couple has a child and they aren’t married, they can’t be put on the birth certificate regardless of if they’ve been together and planned that child together. They would be considered a legal stranger to their own child, but if they got married before the child was born, then both parents could go on the birth certificate.
If the child is born before they get married, the would have to hire an adoption lawyer and go through a step-parent or second-parent adoption, which can cost thousands of dollars. On top of this, if a known donor was used, they would have to terminate the parental rights of the biological father prior to being able to do the second parent adoption, which involves the state and possibly means that the biological father could get in trouble with the state for not registering or supporting the biological mother of the child. They could, essentially, owe back child-support up until their rights are terminated.
My friend made the comment that if you can’t afford to go to a clinic, then you may want to re-evaluate if you can afford to have children. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that statement, but it does make a lot of sense when it comes to same-sex couples. If you aren’t willing to spend the extra money to fully protect your family, then maybe it’s not time for you to have a family. Simply getting married after the fact won’t afford you the rights to a child, even if you’ve been there every step of the way.