Re: Maybe dads love it when they're called it.

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I've been calling my dad Papa for about a decade. Boo-yah.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:41 PM
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Ironically? I call my mom Mommipants.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:43 PM
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Or, I don't mean ironically so much as "As a term of endearment?" Because that's different than training your toddler to say Papa.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:44 PM
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Father was a rolling stone.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:46 PM
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I called my dad papa all the time, but it was a jokey "Look how Italian we're being," not an unmarked referent (I called him Daddy, mostly).

I think the B household does Mama and Papa -- so there's your answer!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:48 PM
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I say sample size is too small. I haven't heard this much (I can think of one example, but even in my childhood there were a few kids who used Papa for whatever reason) and I know from SWPL Californian dads.

Maybe it's a trend in smugtopia up North.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:49 PM
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oudemia, will you send me an e-mail at the linked address, please? It's nothing urgent, so no rush.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:50 PM
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My mom spoke French to us when we were babies, so I picked up Maman and Papa then. They didn't come into common usage for me until I was about 20, but it didn't feel ironic or out of nowhere.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:52 PM
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I think what's going on is a sort of a paean to that legendary hitmaker—and really, who could forget him?—Papa Roach.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:52 PM
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I occasionally call my dad "Pops" for comedy effect. But I don't think I've ever heard a kid call their father Papa in a US context. I do know some families (including Buck's) where the grandfather gets some variant of Papa -- Buck's dad is known to his grandkids as PopPop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:55 PM
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My girlfriend calls her maternal grandparents Mama and Papa (and her paternal grandparents Meme and Da). Neither of her parents call their parents by these names, and she doesn't know where they came from.

I've heard this sort of thing from a few of my other acquaintances, who call their grandparents by archaic terms for parents, rather than, say "Grampa" or "Gramma". I never had grandparents myself, so I don't understand the impulse, but is this common? And why?


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:55 PM
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I only refer to my mother as "mother", of course, lest she cane me.

Father prefers "Admiral".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:57 PM
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12: Dad tried to get us to refer to him as "the Squire" for a while. We compromised on "Squirt".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 3:59 PM
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My ex's grandfather was called "Baron" by everyone in the family, and also by his friends. N.b.: Not actually a baron.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:02 PM
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Maybe in English "daddy" just sounds too perverse. Sugar daddy, leather daddy, who's your daddy?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:03 PM
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I dunno. I said Daddy until age 8 or so, when I pared it back to Dad. But I still say it occasionally, as a term of affection.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:04 PM
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Very few people call their father "Dodd".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:08 PM
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I call my father "Papa", but that's his name; did I mention he's a Smurf?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:10 PM
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Huh, one of the things that struck me as weird about The Road was the kid keeps calling his father Papa and I was like "what are you going for with that, McCarthy?" because I feel like I have quite literally never heard a child use that word and it hit my ear as ostentatiously quaint or dated.

Anyone else call your grandparents things you were embarrassed by and hated to say in front of friends?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:11 PM
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We are SWPL! We certainly have friends whose children call them "Mama" and "Papa." I am aiming at "Mama" and Snark is half aiming at "Papa," though I think there is a strong possibility that he will wind up feeling like that's unnatural, and wind up at "Daddy." I think "Daddy" and "Papa" are both nice, and loathe "Mom," which no doubt means that's what I'll get.

My own mother, raised by an Englishwoman, prefers "Mum" or "Mummy." As an American child, I felt a little self-conscious about that, but also hated "Mom" and found it horribly unnatural, so I've had "Mama" in the mix for quite some time.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:12 PM
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My own mother, raised by an Englishwoman, prefers "Mum" or "Mummy."

And what did she call Mrs. Poppins?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:16 PM
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I never, ever call my mother "Mom." I don't even think of it as a word that refers to her. She is Mommy, Mama, or her given name (which confuses people sometimes).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:16 PM
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What about weird, WASPy names for grandparents? C'mon, somebody here's got 'em. Out with it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:17 PM
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Anyone else call your grandparents things you were embarrassed by and hated to say in front of friends?

I'm not too embarrassed about nowadays (and sort of embrace it), but we call my maternal Grandma "Grinchy", a name she chose for herself to set her identity apart from the paternal grandmother.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:17 PM
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20: And you'll be in Cali when the pup starts saying such things! Perfect.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:17 PM
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Dude, I just gave you one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:18 PM
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a name she chose for herself to set her identity apart from the paternal grandmother.

I hope Grandma Who appreciated it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:19 PM
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23: I'm not even sure I knew these existed! Mine were embarrassing for opposite reasons of Jewishness and southernness, one of each. Spill with the waspy names, plz. Very curious.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:20 PM
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26: huh, I suppose so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:20 PM
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My son calls me "Papa New Guinea", which I find adorable.


Posted by: Peter Macy | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:21 PM
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I called my paternal grandfather something entirely different than my cousins did. In retrospect, I find that quite odd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:21 PM
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20: And you'll be in Cali when the pup starts saying such things! Perfect.

Fact! It's like we planned it all along.

We do also have friends called Papa in un-Californian places like Chicago.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:22 PM
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Maternal grandparents were "granny" and "po-paw". (No idea on the origin of the latter.) Didn't know the paternal grandparents well enough to call them things.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:22 PM
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||
This white person does NOT like international go skateboarding day participants who swarm pedestrians and run into them. Whose lawn? My lawn! Get off of it!
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:24 PM
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My younger kids call us Mumma and Dadda, which doesn't come from us. (I was playing a game yesterday whilst walking the dog with the 9 year old - he started it - along the lines of "I went to the shop" but we were saying "when I get home", and he said "make dadda a coffee". So on my turn I would say "make daddy a coffee" and he would then say "make dadda a coffee". Repeat the whole thing about 20 times. It was starting to sound odd to me.)

My niece and nephew call my FIL Papa (short a's) which kind of irritates me - you should call your grandparents whatever the eldest cousin says, not come up with your own mispronunciations! Although I do realise that it's an idiotic thing to be irritated by.

My parents are Gammer and Gaffer to their grandchildren - well, my dad is Gaffer to most of my friends and their kids too - and my mum was amusingly put out the other day to find out that a new friend of hers is Gammer to her grandkids too. She said to me, "But I do like her, so I suppose it's okay."


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:24 PM
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We called both sets of grandparents Nana and Poppy. We are not WASPs.

My WASPiest friend called his grandmother Gama (long first a).

CA's Scottish grandmother was Granny, and that's what his nephews call his mother now. I find Granny a little odd, the teensiest bit pejorative or something. As in, Listen, Granny!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:24 PM
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My other, non-beloved grandma originally requested we call her Granny, and then vetoed it about 5 seconds later, but it stuck. Perhaps it just stuck behind her back; I think I avoided addressing her directly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:26 PM
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Papa (short a's)

As opposed to pay-pay?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:27 PM
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I think these days "granny" is only used in the context of wacky old person antics. Like a rockin' granny or a skateboarding granny.

My parents are Nana and Baba to my kid. I'm not really sure how that happened. My sister insisted on being called "Tia" instead of "Aunt" or "Auntie" which isn't really heritage-appropriate but is what we've gone with.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:28 PM
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You can't get much more white, Anglo-Saxon or Protestant than my grandparents, who were both 100% Danish, 2nd generation immigrants. We referred to them by their names, Bedstemor and Bedstefar, of course.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:29 PM
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We called my maternal grandmother Grandma Nat, after my sister's shortening of Bernat (her last name). The paternal grandmother, who lived much closer to us and was a daily presence in our lives, was just Grandma.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:29 PM
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I love Granny.

My MIL decided on Granjo when #1 grandchild was a toddler and #2 and #3 were soon to be born. It was from a bottle of wine she had in India. She is trying to shorten it to Gran now, but none of the kids are cooperating!

My own grandparents were Nanny and Grandad Mylastname and Nanny and Grandad Bill (Bill being my mum's dad's first name). Nanny Bill sounded perfectly normal when I was a kid, but objectively, it's a bit goat-y.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:29 PM
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We referred to them by their names, Bedstemor and Bedstefar, of course.

I love this, of course.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:30 PM
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40 should have specified paternal grandparents. Maternal grandparents were also white, mostly Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, and their names were Grammie and Grampie.

I am now honorarily Tito Natilo to my friends' daughter, who is half Filipina.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:31 PM
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38 - Pa-par, I guess. Mama and Papa always look like some horrible little posh git saying Mamar and Papar. In my head I spell it with a double p, but that's not usually done.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:31 PM
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Snark's parents decided they want to be called Grammy and Gramps, which I abominate. Too bad for me, though! I can hope that Jane produces some cute mispronunciation, I suppose.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:32 PM
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When I was pregnant with kid A, C and I had 12 people who might have needed names. Several of them died before the grandchildren were very verbal though, which saved a lot of trouble.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:33 PM
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On the maternal side we clearly distinguished "Grandpa" and "Granddad" (great-grandfather), the latter seems rather stuffy and old-fashioned, but so was he.

I associate "Nana" and "Pop-pop" with Pittsburgh which is where I first encountered them, but from some cursory searching it seems to be a more widespread phenomenon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:35 PM
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For some reason I was terribly self-conscious about saying "bubbe" in front of friends who I think by and large called their grandmothers mee-maw. One day I will write a fairly uninteresting novel about growing up lightly Jewish in the suburban south. It will likely not be published, so I'll just have to talk about it a lot.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:35 PM
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I never gave specific instructions to the kids about what to call me. As a result, I am currently addressed as "DaaaaadeeeeeEEEE!" and "DaaAAAAD" and sometimes "Dad! DAD! DAD!!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:36 PM
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I can't figure out how the objected-to short-a Papa is being pronounced. Both As as in "cat"? Or as in "aha!"?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:36 PM
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100% Danish

I propose that it is possible to get considerably more Anglo-Saxon than this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:37 PM
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50: "Bubbe Among the Mee-Maws"

For an icy year of my youth, I referred to my parents exclusively as "Mother" and "Father."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:39 PM
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Er, to 49.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:39 PM
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Maybe I'll start trying to convince Sally and Newt to call me Mater.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:40 PM
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51 - Papa, as said by my niece and nephew to my FIL, is pronounced Pappa, both a's as in cat. Mama and Papa that I don't like sounds like aha!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:41 PM
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55: Me at 12. Pater too. Eventually I'll just settle on their real names and this carousel can stop.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:42 PM
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55: CA's mother signs bday cards and the like "Mater."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:43 PM
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If Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging has made it over there, the girl in that calls her dad Vati. But her mum doesn't get Mutti - I think I'd be jealous, mutti is nicer than vati.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:43 PM
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Oh, okay.

I called my paternal grandparents Muz and Sado.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:45 PM
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I call my parents Mama and Dada. "Mama" is very common, of course, but "Dada" seems to be remarkably rare.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:46 PM
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I think Dada is very nice. Dad-ah, or like Tristan Tzara?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:48 PM
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[dædæ]


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:49 PM
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Reduced to [dædə] in fast speech.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:51 PM
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I'm Daddy, next-door not-particularly-SWPL neighbor is Papa. My paternal grandfather was Pa, the only one I've come across outside the Little House books.

Some of my daughters' classmates use "Maura and Siobhán's Dad" as a form of address, which I kind of love.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:57 PM
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My maternal grandparents were Mimi and Daddy Lastname, and so it had been for several generations (the last name changing). My mom refused to continue as Mimi Mylastname, so perhaps that's the end of that tradition.

I called my Dad "Daddy", mostly, but since you mention it, spontaneously started mixing in "Papa" in my early twenties. He always corrected us if we put any drawl in the initial syllable of Daddy (de-yaddy). That was not acceptable.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:57 PM
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My dad would like to be The Old Man, which is what he called his dad. Somehow it's never worked for me.

"X's Mom/Dad" was standard usage among my kid's set up until first grade or thereabout. He scored big points with a few parents he liked by letting them have their own names.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:11 PM
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I often refer to my father as "the Pater," because I spent a lot of time reading antiquated juvenile fiction when I was but a stripling, but I seldom address him as such.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:14 PM
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My dad would like to be The Old Man, which is what he called his dad.

Like, "Hey, The Old Man, can I go over to Johnny's house for dinner?"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:15 PM
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"Old Man" in direct address, I think, but he was gone by the time I was old enough to remember anything. My dad's referring to himself that way is a more recent development, e.g., "This is the old man" on voicemail.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:17 PM
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I call my parents mama and tatuś which corresponds to mommy and dad. My mom occasionally complained that I didn't call her mamusia, the equivalent of tatuś. She always spoke to her father in the third person, the Polish equivalent of 'vous', while I used the second person singular, i.e. the informal form. Looking back, I think that flustered him a bit, but I don't think he felt it would be apprpriate to correct his American grandson. Grandma was bati, my toddler verson of babcia (Polish for grandma).


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:30 PM
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I'm training mine up to call me "The Colonel".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:39 PM
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For some reason I was terribly self-conscious about saying "bubbe" in front of friends who I think by and large called their grandmothers mee-maw. One day I will write a fairly uninteresting novel about growing up lightly Jewish in the suburban south. It will likely not be published, so I'll just have to talk about it a lot.

Huh. I can't think of any actual instances I know of people going by mee-maw. In my family the maternal grandparents were Mamaw and Papaw (first vowel in both cases is the 'cat' vowel). In fact, lots of people, even unrelated to her, called my grandmother "Mamaw". I remember once in middle school writing some assignment that involved Mamaw and the teacher (who knew my grandmother, and should have known better) singled out my writing and read it to the class but pronounced it "Meemaw" and the whole class laughed at me and it was very distressing. So at least in my part of the suburban semi-south "Meemaw" was deprecated.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:42 PM
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My aunts who are grandmothers all seem to want to be called "Nanny" by their grandchildren and reserve "Grandma" for the great-grandmothers. I'm not sure if this is a way of trying to refuse to admit their age.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:45 PM
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72: Obligatory.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:48 PM
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My dad was Papa until we got older and shortened it to Pa. Same with my cousins and their dad. Rory calls UNG Papa and my niece calls my brother Papa. I do remember being self-conscious about it in front of friends when I was a kid.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:49 PM
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I'm not clear on whether we're talking "PApuh" or "pehPAW". I really hope that the former isn't becoming all trendy, because I was planning on having my (as yet hypothetical) kid call me that because it's what I called my grandfather and it'll have to call my (also hypothetical) partner some other variant of Daddy.

My brother called our other grandparents "Mah-maw" and "Pa-pops" which I always thought was hella weird.

For my own parents, I graduated from Mommy and Daddy to Mother and Father, which I still use, because I'm icy and distant and have a stick up my ass.


Posted by: piminnowcheez | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:51 PM
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72: pro tip -- ff you have to "train" them, you're going light on the discipline. Without any effort at all on my part, the older boy calls me Generalissimo, while the baby refers to me as El Maximo Jefe.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:02 PM
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And they both get the accents right.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:02 PM
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Let's see. To my oldest I'm Daddy. The middle one, in between "IHATEYOUIHATEMYLIFEGIVEMESOMEMONEY" will call me Dad, while my son has decided to call me "Pops" because he knows I hate it. They call my parents Poppy and Gigi, which is different from what their cousins call my parents, which is Grammy and Grampy. My children call my wife's mother Mimi, but so does everyone else who knows her. My wife's father passed away before we were married. I know several Nonny, and one Roro. Dad or Daddy definitely seems to dominate the Cali SWPL I know.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:07 PM
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78: Ooo, Dad made a stab at being called "Jefe" as well -- I think he'd been watching Treasure of the Sierra Madre.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:12 PM
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I'm not clear on whether we're talking "PApuh" or "pehPAW". I really hope that the former isn't becoming all trendy, because I was planning on having my (as yet hypothetical) kid call me that

Just how obscure do you need your parent-name to be? I imagine I'd have felt a lot less ambivalent about calling my mother Mummy if half the kids in my class were doing the same.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:12 PM
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I think training your kids -- ironically, of course -- to call you "bitch" and "fuckface" is probably a bad idea.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:16 PM
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I call my parents "Mom" or "Ma", and "Dad", "Pa", or "Pops".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:22 PM
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I plan to have my kids call me Sifu, obviously.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:24 PM
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Wait, "Grandad" is formal and old-fashioned? Old-fashioned certainly does track with my Grandad, and I suppose he was a bit more formal than people his age living in actual civilization are.

California datum: my father is "father," "dad," and sometimes "Daddy-O."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:27 PM
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What about weird, WASPy names for grandparents? C'mon, somebody here's got 'em. Out with it.

Guilty as charged: Bampa and Nana. Go back another generation, and there's a Mater, even.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:38 PM
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There is a Jimmy Stewart movie in which he, upon learning his grandpaternal nickname, asks his daughter, "Margaret, you couldn't do any better for your own father than 'Boom-pa'?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:56 PM
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When I was little I used Papa (I guess my parents were probably whatever would count as SWPL in the late 70's). I remember at some point realizing that everyone else said "Dad" and making a conscious switch. I also had a friend with parents who had been hippies, who used Mother and Father.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:14 PM
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WORRYING ABOUT THE CODING INVOLVED IN WHAT YOU CALL YOUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS IS SILLY.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRAMMY | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:24 PM
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Dad Mom

Grandpa Grandma with d's enunciated

Carry on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:28 PM
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73 to clear things up by de-anonymizing a bit, I'm speaking of Richmond, where I went to elementary school. Markedly more rural than Lexington, where I went to HS and where I don't know that I heard "meemaw" or even "mamaw" much. People in Richmond had stronger accents and spoke fondly of hunting etc. Some in fact came in from very small towns in surrounding counties like Lancaster and Paint Lick. So that's the context.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:32 PM
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"Paint Lick"! That's quite a name.

I think "Mamaw" and "Papaw" were imports from my grandparents' rural eastern Tennessee/northern Georgia upbringing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:44 PM
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I'm trying to figure out if all you people who say "Papa" so that it rhymes with "cat" are saying "Papa" or "cat" weird.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:48 PM
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Without any effort at all on my part, the older boy calls me Generalissimo, while the baby refers to me as El Maximo Jefe.

My dad originally intended for his children to respond to him with "yes, sir", "no, sir" and "no excuse, sir". When I suggested to my daughters that they do the same, they responded to me with derisive laughter.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:51 PM
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Then when you told your Dad about this he said "Do you really put up with that? Do you think I would? Do you have any excuse for why you do?"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:59 PM
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Well, he had died by then, but I don't think he ever heard anything like "sir" from any of his five kids. "Jimbo", however, was a common mocking form of address when we were in high school. How sharper than a serpent's tooth...


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:04 PM
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I'm trying to figure out if all you people who say "Papa" so that it rhymes with "cat" are saying "Papa" or "cat" weird.

The "t" is invisible.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:06 PM
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they responded to me with derisive laughter.

Aren't your girls like 7 years old? They know derision already?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:07 PM
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All too well.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:08 PM
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Huh. Kids these days. I didn't learn that until I was, uh, 10 at the earliest.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:14 PM
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The "t" is invisible.

But if you iron the message you'd see that we call our father Patpat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:19 PM
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My Northern WASP grandparents were Enor and Zoo to me, and her mother was Big (which she wasn't). Can't remember what my cousins called them. The Southern grandparents probably wanted to be Grandmother Lastname and Grandfather Lastname, because that's what they were at the largest family gatherings, but I actually called them Grandma and Grandpa. Of course, my branch moved to the West Coast, we're hopeless.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:20 PM
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I called my paternal grandparents Muz and Sado.

Which was which?

In response to heebie's original question: yes, I've definitely heard "Papa" lately in a way that seemed more SWPL than ethnic/old world European. Also "Mama" instead of Mom/Mommy amongst alterna-mummy types.

My son calls me Mum or Mom, depending on context.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:20 PM
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My sister and I probably always knew it was advantageous to use "Daddy" when asking for things, but it's kinda creepy that we codified it in our twenties.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 8:34 PM
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but it's kinda creepy that we codified it in our twenties.

And would refer to yourselves as "Baby" when doing so.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:10 PM
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I'm trying to figure out if all you people who say "Papa" so that it rhymes with "cat" are saying "Papa" or "cat" weird.

I don't think there are any "all you people" who do this -- it's the quirky pronunciation produced by Asilon's niece and nephew.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:10 PM
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And no rhyming involved, just assonance.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:10 PM
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rfts, will you or snark please shoot me an e-mail?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:17 PM
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My grandfather was called by all, including his wife, "The Boss", or in direct address, "Boss". Grandma was called Grandma, or Min. These are Connecticut dairy farmers.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:19 PM
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106: Sadly, I can't find a link to a recording of--or even the lyrics to--Andy Prieboy's "Daddy Buy Baby A Boobjob", which would have been a nice capper.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:25 PM
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My parents are "mom" and "dad". My dad's mom was "grandma". My mom's family in my generation are all by first name, but everyone from my mom's generation and older are, or were in the case of my grandparents, referred to according to Chinese naming conventions, in (not all that well-pronounced, because I'm not a racist) Mandarin. I call my sister by a diminutive of her (mandarin) middle name; she calls me "little brother" in Mandarin. It remains to be seen whether my niece will call me "uncle" in English or Mandarin, of if she'll use my first name or some combination of names. I don't have a preference, but I don't plan on keeping up the Chinese naming conventions if I have kids.

Once, my mom was trying to explain the naming conventions* and revealed that there's a whole set of names we rarely use because we're usually referring to aunt's (her sister's) families, and the sets are different for people related by marriage to a relative depending on whether you're starting with "wife" or "husband." She then said, "so, if you marry a Chinese woman" and started to come up with equivalent names and at that point I interrupted and said I'm not going to marry a Chinese woman.

*I'm not even sure if people who use them actually know them. In Taiwan when I visited on a sort of family reunion, there was some disagreement on how to refer to people who'd probably be nth-cousins in English. It didn't really seem to matter. And every now and then there's some confusion on which husband-of-sister is being referred to. Just use first names, family! Like oldest uncle's family does.

Anyway, can I get a diversity fellowship to read the comments here?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:41 PM
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t remains to be seen whether my niece will call me "uncle" in English or Mandarin, of if she'll use my first name or some combination of names. I don't have a preference, but I don't plan on keeping up the Chinese naming conventions if I have kids.

I'm telling you, try for "Sifu".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:44 PM
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I'm not totally sure about China, but in much of southeast Asia "cousin" and "uncle/aunt" cover a lot more ground than they do here, meaning approximately and respectively "family friend or relative who is about my age" and "family friend or relative who is older than me".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:45 PM
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After living in Amsterdam from age 2 to age 4, I briefly called my maternal grandparents Oma and Opa, which they liked, but I then apparently developed a little self-consciousness about speaking Dutch in the US of A and dropped it. Other than that it was Grandmother and Granddaddy, and Grandmom and Grandpop, in each case just tracking what my parents called their parents.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:58 PM
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Yes, that appears to be true, at least as far as relatives go. The main question was which modifiers of uncle to use, since these were mainly men in my mom's generation, related through my grandparents. I skillfully solved most of the problems by pointing out that we didn't share a common language, so there wouldn't be a lot of referring-to-by-accepted-name in conversation, and it's easy enough to greet someone with a greeting, rather than greeting + address. Especially, if you're a foreigner and can get away with not addressing your elders by correct name.

There were some relatives in my generation, but most of them I didn't meet because they were in North American grad schools and anyway, the reunion was mostly for the older people. Most of those who emigrated in the 60s and 70s didn't make a single trip back until the 2000s.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:03 PM
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in much of southeast Asia "cousin" and "uncle/aunt" cover a lot more ground than they do here

This appears to be true for at least some part of the Middle East.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:08 PM
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My parents are Mom and Dad when addressed verbally, though my sister and I have taken to calling them Madre and Padre via email. I think that started as a joke, the specifics of which I can't recall, and just stuck. My mom's parents are Yaya and Grandpa LastName, and my dad's mom is Gram Gram. We don't really qualify as WASP though (if the Yaya didn't give it away).


Posted by: Bonsaisue | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:15 PM
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but in much of southeast Asia "cousin" and "uncle/aunt" cover a lot more ground than they do here, meaning approximately and respectively "family friend or relative who is about my age" and "family friend or relative who is older than me".

This goes for aunt and uncle in Polish. As a little kid I often used to spend a lot of time in a rural village over the summer. Every single person there seemed to be 'aunt' or 'uncle'. The scary part is that they all really were related to me in one way or another. Polish also distinguishes between maternal and paternal uncles which drifts down into first cousins who are often known as uncle/aunt brother/sisters.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:29 PM
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I once talked to a dude from Mexico for whom anyone remotely close (including me {we'd just met}) was called a carnal.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:43 PM
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I did some work for a union in Hawaii -- based in SoCal, but they flew me out to Maui to help organize a march. Another haole and I were walking through the neighborhood, trying to get people to turn out for the march. We looked like the HI version of Mulder and Scully in our khakis and aloha shirts. We weren't getting anywhere until we were at one door, talking to someone who wasn't sure why we were there, when twelve of the kids who lived with the organizer I was staying with came zipping by on their skates shouting, "Hey, Unca K-sky!" After that, we were gold.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:45 PM
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My friend's grandmother, from Germany, was Oma and her American husband was Opa. Now that my friend has a baby, his father is Pop-pop and his mother is Coco. Coco!


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:46 PM
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Did the organizer send the kids to help you out?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:48 PM
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Nope. When I got there, I did a quick pass at learning all of their names, and it was endearing enough to earn a welcome holler.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 12:08 AM
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re: 114 - 119

Among a lot of working class British people 'Uncle' and 'Aunt' are used the same way. My sister will habitually refer to 'Aunt Jackie', or 'Uncle Bins' or whoever, and those are all adult friends of hers who her kids know. Similarly, now that some of my friends have kids I'm fairly used to being described as 'Uncle ttaM'.

In our family we had Big Gran/Big Grandad and Little Gran/Little Grandad; the Glaswegian ones being noticeably shorter than the English ones. Other than that, no cute diminutives, and our parents were just 'Mum' and 'Dad'. To this day, 'Mummy' and 'Daddy', sound impossibly infantile to me, and I'm always surprised when [English] adults I know use those words.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 12:25 AM
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107 - I'm quite confused by this thread. Do most people nowadays when they read Papa pronounce it with the emphasis on the second pa? What about baby stuff manufacturer Mamas & Papas? Everyone I know says that mammas and pappas (i.e. the "quirky" way). Is this a UK/US divide? Or just an accents thing? Or misunderstandings?

89 - Minivet, my partner had a Nana and Bampa too. I don't know if their being Welsh had anything to do with Bampa.

And I certainly wouldn't think of Grandad as formal and old-fashioned. Looking back, I'd say it was more working class, and Grandpa more middle class.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 12:56 AM
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I say "Pa" just once.


Posted by: child of cleveland | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:14 AM
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With ttaM on this one: "Mum" and "Dad", though I do know someone who refers to "MaMA" and "PaPA", with the emphasis on the second syllable in both cases, which makes her sound like a Betjeman Girl.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:21 AM
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I originally called my parents Maime (think "Momma") and Deaide (think "Dadja") but this shifted as we started speaking more English to using "Mammy" and "Daddy" more frequently. My mother's parents were supposed to be Granny and Papa but we ended up calling him Pop. My father's parents were Maimeo and Daideo. (None of the Irish spellings are very codified and there are variant versions. )

Granny and her siblings apparently referred to their parents as M'ma and P'pa.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:53 AM
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I called my parents Mummy and Daddy till I was about eight; then Mum and Dad, till I was about thirteen, at which point they suggested I call them Helga and Hugh, which were their names. So I did.

Paternal grandparents were Granny and Grandpa; maternal grandparents were Mormor and Morfar (grandmother was Danish) until they resolved into Anna and Arthur. I'm surprised more people don't call their parents by their names - it seems normal among my friends.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:54 AM
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130 me.


Posted by: chris y (OFE) | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:55 AM
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and 129 was me


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:09 AM
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We appear to be mommy and daddy, although my wife has always referred to herself as mama. No idea where the kids picked up "mommy" but it appears to have stuck.

My maternal grandparents were Bubbe and Zayde, and my paternal grandmother was Grandma New York because, and this bit is clever, she lived in New York.

My dad wants to be Grandpa, but is currently Boppa. Wife's mom is Grammy (currently something incomprehensible like Bwahni) and wife's dad is Wapsy (Whappee). I'm kind of curious to see what sticks.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:38 AM
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Minivet, my partner had a Nana and Bampa too. I don't know if their being Welsh had anything to do with Bampa.

Interesting. No Welsh in my grandparents that I know of. I need to ask how the names came about.

Incidentally, Thai has the weirdest set of nouns for uncles and aunts I've encountered - sure, other languages might distinguish by whether they're paternal or maternal, or whether they're older or younger than the speaker's parent, but Thai seems to be the result of smashing two different systems together. There's "older-than-parent uncle" and "older-than-parent aunt," not distinguishing paternal or maternal, and then there's "younger-than-father uncle/aunt" and "younger-than-mother uncle/aunt," not distinguishing gender.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:51 AM
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Do most people nowadays when they read Papa pronounce it with the emphasis on the second pa? What about baby stuff manufacturer Mamas & Papas? Everyone I know says that mammas and pappas

No, stress on the first syllable, but the vowel is not the one in cat or dad. It's the one in wasp.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:38 AM
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This conversation would have been so much easier in person! So, I say wasp "wosp". Papa = Poppa?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:01 AM
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Yes, papa = poppa = [pɑːpə].


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:27 AM
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Your wasp is probably [wɒsp] where mine is [wɑsp], so better perhaps to think of "father" for the vowel in question.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:29 AM
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Update: the "Bampa and Nana" appelation is handed down from a longtime Maine family, which before that was in the south and west of England.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:35 AM
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And grandmother, of course, is Your Royal Highness.

...I've said too much.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:50 AM
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Concur with 125: I have a couple of non-uncle uncles and non-aunt aunts.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:53 AM
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Same as 130, except that when my brother and I stopped using 'mum' and 'dad' as address terms we didn't move on to names, and were in fact left with no address term at all for our parents. Which you'd think might be inconvenient, but is surprisingly easy to manage.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:08 AM
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I'm glad we got 77, because all the "papas" I can think of are using the name to distinguish them from the other dad in the family.

I started calling my mother "mum" at some point, but they were otherwise mom and dad, grandparents Grandma and Grandpa Lastname on both sides. My dad's youngest sibling's child (or more likely the child's mom) decided my grandmother should be "Gram" and now the rest of us are being pressured to comply, WHICH I WILL NOT!

I have no idea what names we'd use as parents. I guess just let the kid decide? I don't know and have a hard time imagining this part of it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:29 AM
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Boy, with adopting an older kid I'd think it'd be really hard to establish a relationship-name. Wouldn't you think that you and your partner would be Jo Ellen and Darlene, rather than Mom and Mama, to a kid who came into the household as a teenager?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:38 AM
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144: Yeah, we've asked the kids we've had as short-term placements to just call us by our names. Sometimes an aunt-type relationship mindset works better than a specifically mom-oriented one. I'm sort of curious what we'll end up with as names, but I definitely don't have a preference for now.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:46 AM
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aunt-type relationship mindset

Heh. Back around 1990, WXRT in Chicago had little comedy bits between playing songs, and one was the continuing adventures of Crusader Girl, a feminist superhero. The intro was her origin story, growing up on a commune in Oregon, and ended with her saying: "Bye Mom! Bye Aunt Helen! Keep making art that doesn't degrade women!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:50 AM
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I'm glad we got 77, because all the "papas" I can think of are using the name to distinguish them from the other dad in the family.

This, and we also have a Daddy/Pop pair.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:53 AM
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My 3-year-old daughter calls my ex-wife her sister.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 11:03 AM
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I don't see it. The asshole in question wanted to go out and massacre a bunch of random civilians, the analogy to US government policy as such is deeply flawed for all the reasons discussed above. A closer one would be the massacres committed by Polish civilians against their ethnic German neighbours in early September 1939 following indiscriminate bombings at the start of the German invasion. Keep in mind that the big German atrocities would only begin later on that month.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 12:55 PM
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Ooops wrong thread.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:00 PM
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149 seems an awfully harsh response to Apo's three-year-old daughter.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:00 PM
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Sometimes an aunt-type relationship mindset works better than a specifically mom-oriented one. I'm sort of curious what we'll end up with as names, but I definitely don't have a preference for now.

"Uncle Grandma" and "Aunt Grandpa".


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:01 PM
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In an attempt to fulfill the commentariat's desires for more yummy blog conflict, I offer you this B.Ph.D post by M. Leblanc To sum up for the lazy, M is incensed by a response to Slate advice columnist Prudence's answer to a writer who had an affair and got pregnant. Her husband found out, forgave her and agreed to raise the kid as their own, and the marriage is now fine. But they're wondering if and when to tell the now three year old kid. Prudence leans to not now and maybe never, but says this is a difficult question and she isn't sure if there is a right answer. That seems like a fairly reasonable response to me, M thinks Right Now is the only correct path.

But where I found M really screwed up was on the question of whether to involve the biological parent in the kid's life. Someone points out that the husband might not want to have the wife's ex lover deeply involved in their lives. M goes off saying that that would mean he's an irrational selfish prick who needs to get over themselves. Say what? I think this is clearly M's non-monogamous inability to understand how those who are experience being cheated on. It's a whole bunch of emotional pain inflicted by the person you love, not just a 'broken promise'. Not wanting a constant reminder of that seems pretty natural.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:23 PM
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I'll read it later, but involving the biological father in the kid's life and having the biological father deeply involved in the couple's lives are not remotely the same thing, and not wanting the second shouldn't automatically trump the first. What does the biological father want?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:31 PM
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I read that, and did think she was less than understanding. Right in an ideal world, probably. But there's a tradeoff between what might be the absolute best for kids, and what their parents can tolerate without going stark raving mad, and having to share parenting decisions with a spouse's partner in now-regretted adultery is the kind of thing that a reasonable person might find excruciating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:33 PM
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153 gets it pretty much exactly right. As a general rule, I'm all for not keeping secrets from kids, but that's a really, really tricky situation and there's no obvious right answer.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:38 PM
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I love silvana, but she's giving an extremely black-and-white answer to a question that is nothing but gray.

there's no obvious right answer

This.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:40 PM
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154: What hits me about the situation is that any benefit to the kid is really pretty contingent on the bio-father being really a part of the kid's life. If it's just about disclosure, the couple could certainly be expected to suck it up and deal, and probably should eventually, but it's not life-changing for the kid either way, really. What Silvana (M. Leblanc's real name, for anyone who missed the transition) was suggesting as the motivation for being open -- having another loving parent figure in the kid's life -- is probably a good thing for the kid, all else being equal, but might be very, very, very difficult for the couple, depending on the emotional dynamics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:43 PM
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But there's a tradeoff between what might be the absolute best for kids, and what their parents can tolerate without going stark raving mad

I think that something that makes a parent miserable and puts serious stress on their marriage is pretty bad for the kid. And I don't really see why it's so important that the 'sperm donor', as one of the commenters refers to him, be involved in the kid's life. The boy apparently has two loving parents in a stable marriage. If it ain't broke, why break it?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:44 PM
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M. Leblanc's real name, for anyone who missed the transition)

Shouldn't that just be RTFA?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:45 PM
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Haven't read it, but I say tough shit for the couple. Th wife made a decision to bring the kid into the world, knowing the circumstances. Kid deserves to know Dad, and Dad deserves to know kid, and depriving either of that choice isn't the couple's to make. The kid isn't just the mom's property.

As I say, I haven't read the article.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:47 PM
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I kind of think that the purported benefits of another loving parent figure have to be balanced against the potential costs of conflict among those parent figures. People are very adaptable when we want to be, but I'm not seeing a moral duty there for the adults to restructure their lives around Silvana's concept of their duty to the kid.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:49 PM
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The kid already knows Dad, Dad already knows the kid. IANAL, so this I have know idea what the law is here, but that's not what I'm arguing about.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:51 PM
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Good thing Halford is here; this conversation was starting to get mighty consensus-y.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:52 PM
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161.1: Unpack that a little? Are you taking the position that every kid is entitled to a relationship with their biological parents no matter what?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:54 PM
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I honestly don't think you can even begin to apply a rule here without knowing all four affected parties, as well as the other two kids in the house. I don't understand how anybody can have a strong opinion on this (well, I mean, I understand how it happens but it seems like a big bunch of projection of everybody's own family issues onto complete strangers).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:54 PM
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OK, now I've read it and see that the biological father is apparently willing to accept no role at all. If he weren't, though, I think the fact that a reasonable husband might find his involvement excruciating might be the husband's problem to get over.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:55 PM
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I have no idea where I got the other two kids from. Maybe I turned 3 years old into three kids or something. She never mentions any other kids. Sorry.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:58 PM
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168: You took them from Haiti! Racist!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 1:59 PM
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Regardless of the number of kids, though, I think you're absolutely right that there's no one-size-fits-all right answer: it has to depend on the individuals involved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:00 PM
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a big bunch of projection of everybody's own family issues onto complete strangers

New mouseover text?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:00 PM
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Maybe I turned 3 years old into three kids or something

Or am projecting my own three kids onto complete strangers. I wonder which one isn't actually mine.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:01 PM
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I need to read the article. BUT assuming that the situation is that the couple has decided to raise the kid, treating nonbiological dad as real dad and excluding real dad from the picture, in order to make their own marriage more tolerable, I'm comfortable saying that this is unequivocally bad. The kid-biological Dad relationship is important, and, more importantly, the biological Dad has a right to participate in raising the kid. If the woman didn't want this situation, she shouldn't have had the kid; as it is, the decision about fathering is no longer entirely hers (and especially doesn't belong to nonbiological dad).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:01 PM
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Some people just have all the answers.

M. Leblanc seems like she could be an advice columnist.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:01 PM
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173: Are you assuming that biological dad is wanting a relationship with child? Because that does not appear to be the case.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:02 PM
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The kid-biological Dad relationship is important, and, more importantly, the biological Dad has a right to participate in raising the kid.

Why?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:03 PM
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Kid deserves to know Dad, and Dad deserves to know kid, and depriving either of that choice isn't the couple's to make.

Ok, well, why? I'm not sure if the Dad the kid already knows according to teraz's comment is his mother's husband or his biological father, but his mother's husband is surely Dad enough to do the job, isn't he?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:03 PM
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176: I certainly wouldn't want to grow up playing catch with someone who hadn't inseminated my mother. I mean, it wouldn't be the same.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:04 PM
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173: Being raised by parents in a tolerable marriage is not unequivocally bad, not by a long shot. Being raised by parents constantly in some level of conflict over you is very bad indeed.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:05 PM
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176 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:06 PM
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178: Hey, neb, speaking of which, wanna go toss around the ol' pigskin?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:06 PM
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If the woman didn't want this situation, she shouldn't have had the kid; as it is, the decision about fathering is no longer entirely hers (and especially doesn't belong to nonbiological dad).

The thing about this that strikes me as so bizarre is the apparent assumption that obviously there's a straightforward correct answer here. I assume it wouldn't be the answer in play in the case of sperm donation, though (or would it?), or if the biological father were a drunken cad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:07 PM
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Whose pigskin are we talking about, Stanley?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:09 PM
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Upon reconsideration it is obvious that the biological dad should move in with the family. TLC will pay for the kid's college education in return for filming, "My Two Papas (and Mom!)"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:11 PM
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175: yes, that was my assumption. If biological Dad doesn't want to be in the picture, then my reasoning changes; then it's really just a question of when you tell the kid, which can have a lot of different answers.

But assuming that the situation is that the wife surreptitiously had the kid without telling biological Dad, I'd view that as a pretty bad thing. Parents have rights to participate in raising their children, even men, and even non-married men. The fact that the wife's marriage might be made more difficult by having a third party involved is just the natural consequence of her deciding to have a kid with a different father.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:13 PM
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No balancing of concerns for ol' rob.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:16 PM
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And 179 can seriously bite me, and is (fortunately) contrary to the law. Even non-coupled parents have the right to be parents, regardless if one half of the parental pair is in a couple.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:17 PM
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185, 186: His main concern seems to be his freedom to make assumptions would be curtailed if he actually read the article. Actually this is my own philosophy -- the less you know, the more room there is for speculation! Thus, knowlege is bad!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:19 PM
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179 makes assessments about what is good or bad for a child and I'm really straining to see how it could be contrary to any conceivable law.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:20 PM
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Even non-coupled parents have the right to be parents, regardless if one half of the parental pair is in a couple.

You keep saying this like it's written in the heavens somewhere. Does it apply to sperm donors? Biological parents who consented to adoption? If not, where's the line, and why is it where it is?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:21 PM
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What Robert seems to be saying is that if the husband has a problem with dealing with his wife's ex lover, he should have thought of that earlier and told his wife to choose between abortion or divorce. That said, I do take his point that biological father's have rights. However, assuming that the marriage is currently a happy one and they are good parents and that the husband would find the biological father's involvement deeply upsetting, let's not pretend that the exercise of the biological father's right's wouldn't be a bad thing for everybody else involved, including the kid.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:22 PM
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What's the concern to balance? If a father took a kid away from his mother who wanted to participate in the kid's life, told the mother the kid had died, and took the kid off to be raised in another home (with, let's say, a stable relationship and a wife who was willing to help raise the child) this would be an unequivocally bad thing, no?

What's the difference here (assuming, which doesn't seem to be the case, that biological Dad wants involvement in the kid's life).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:23 PM
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192: Other than all the facts are different from the actual case presented, the situations are exactly the same!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:25 PM
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187: Really? In many states, as long as the husband is not contesting the issue, he is the only legal father of the child. Obviously I have no idea where this is taking place, but there have definitely been cases recently where the biological father did want access to the kid and was denied by the courts because he has no standing.

Probably unsurprisingly, I think it's important to be truthful with kids, especially in difficult situations. The younger the kid is when you start talking, the more comfortable you'll get with it and the more chances you'll have to get it right. I also think it's a good thing for people to have access to their biological histories and that this should be the general presumption in conversations like this one.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:26 PM
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this would be an unequivocally bad thing, no?

That would be bad. But once it's done, undoing it might also be bad. See? Life is difficult.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:26 PM
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I'm sorry you're just learning this now and I do wish your parents had told you when you were younger, but they probably didn't think you were ready.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:26 PM
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187: You seem focused on the rights of the biological father over the interests of the child, which seems odd to me. Maybe the guy has a legal right here, but if he's not pushing it (he isn't) then it isn't a factor.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:27 PM
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Gah. Commenting from the BB is a pain, but I more or less agree with Halford. If the standard were as simple as not having a kid raised by parents in constant conflict, either UNG or I would have had to go away. Thankfully, the "constant conflict" has settled down substantially -- as I dare say is likely in any situation where the parents are genuinely concerned about doing what's best for their child.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:27 PM
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If the standard were as simple as not having a kid raised by parents in constant conflict, either UNG or I would have had to go away.

You might think that introducing or heightening a conflict is different from being confronted with a situation in which there already is a conflict. Who knows, though!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:29 PM
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Howzabout maybe sometimes it might be bio-dad's obligation to "get over it" and recognize that kid might be better off without his having a significant role? I wouldn't advocate that as a general rule, but there may be cases where it's a better bet than expecting everyone else involved in the kid's life to rearrange their lives to make room for bio-dad.

If a father took a kid away from his mother who wanted to participate in the kid's life, told the mother the kid had died, and took the kid off to be raised in another home (with, let's say, a stable relationship and a wife who was willing to help raise the child) this would be an unequivocally bad thing, no?

Not unequivocally, no. Human relationships are complicated and often sub-optimal. What if mom's abusive and wife has made it clear that she'll walk before she'll deal with mom? Families and absolutes really don't mix all that well.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:30 PM
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Having marveled at Sivana's certitude -- born, it seemed to me, of comfortable isolation from the people involved in the actual real-life drama -- while reading the original piece some time ago, I'm utterly stumped by what Robert (and now Di) are saying here. Is there any relationship between Silvana's post and these latter claims? It seems not, right? Or am I missing something?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:33 PM
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201: No.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:35 PM
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201: We probably should have just ended the thread at 166.last.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:37 PM
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199: True. It's somewhat different. But what happens down the line when the kid in this scenario finds out he has a biological father who is not part of his life because Dad was uncomfortable with it? If I were the kid, I'd be angry at all of the parents -- Dad, for making the decision, bio-dad for not caring enough to fight, mom for leaving it up to everyone else. The heightened conflict will resolve eventually *if* it's dealt with.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:38 PM
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What 199 says. M. seems to think that the biological dad should be brought into the kid's life, despite his willingness to be left out, because of...sperm? And that revealing the situation to a 5-(or 6- or 7-)year-old will make for a flourishing childhood? Plus, your husband could die! Weird.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:39 PM
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Or am projecting my own three kids onto complete strangers. I wonder which one isn't actually mine.

Didn't one of your kids spontaneously decided to dress more formally than required recently? That'd be all the evidence I'd need to figure out that one of my children wasn't really mine.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:40 PM
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An heir and a spare. New version.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:41 PM
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206: Yeah, but he gets that from his mom.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:45 PM
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I do think that finding a way to tell the kid sooner rather than later is likely to be the right thing, just because any secret known by at least three people is unlikely to remain secret forever and the truth-telling is likely to get more dramatic as the kid gets older. OTOH I'm sort of a party to letting a sleeping dog of this sort lie, basically because whatever happened was so long ago that there's nothing to be gained by bringing it up now. Adulthood is way too complicated.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:45 PM
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The real lesson here is about the importance of proper contraceptive use when cheating on one's spouse.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:46 PM
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206: Well, presumably this child would have another biological parent. The results of sexual reproduction can be quite surprising.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:47 PM
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I don't understand how anybody can have a strong opinion on this

My strong opinion is that when to tell the truth is not a simple open-shut question, and Silvana's saying that if the father would be upset by having to deal with the biological father on a regular basis he is a bad person shows a complete lack of understanding and empathy for those who are inclined towards monogamy. I don't think that that sort of reaction by the father is inevitable or somehow 'right', just that it isn't 'wrong'. If the biological father wants involvement, and the father and mother are both fine with it, then they should find a way to make that work.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:48 PM
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208, 211: That'd have to be one hell of a dominant gene.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:48 PM
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I mean, in my case.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:48 PM
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Moral clarity is the worst thing that can happen to a person.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:49 PM
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Worse than bad grammar?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:50 PM
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I'm afraid so.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:51 PM
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Is there any relationship between Silvana's post and these latter claims?

Have heightened standards against digression been imposed around here? I don't think either Robert or I are trying to argue a specific result for the specific position in the post but rather are pushing back against the idea that the stability of the marriage trumps the value of bio-dad's relationship.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:51 PM
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215: Worse than getting kicked in the balls?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:52 PM
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218: Actually, Di, rather than trying to maintain a laserlike focus on the question at hand, I was, as my question suggested, trying to figure out if there was some relationship between yours and Robert's arguments and Silvana's post. So by all means, digress away!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:56 PM
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rather are pushing back against the idea that the stability of the marriage trumps the value of bio-dad's relationship

I don't think the claim is "trumps", but only "may trump". Robert, and I think you, seem to be taking a strong position the other way--that bio-dad always has a role no matter what--but I'm still not clear why.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:57 PM
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1. I know many people, in Montana, Minnesota, New York, and the DC area, whose small children call their father "Papa".

2. I'm always confused by it because we call my maternal grandfather Papa (grandmother was Nana).

3. I just got back from a vacation in Minnesota. NP and Chopper both get two thumbs up from me.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:58 PM
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Are you getting kicked in the balls by your biological father, or the guy who raised you?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:58 PM
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Getting kicked in the balls is bad, but transitory, and affects only the kickee. Moral clarity's effects are frequently much longer-lasting and spread out among many others.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 2:58 PM
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That'd be all the evidence I'd need to figure out that one of my children wasn't really mine.

Megan, if your husband tells you he found one left by a stork under a cabbage leaf, they're not really yours, biologically. No matter how informally they dress.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:00 PM
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You'd make a lousy Decider, neb.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:01 PM
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I'm so looking forward to getting married; surely on my wedding day, someone will explain to me how the stork brings babies.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:02 PM
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226: Unlike W.?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:02 PM
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Moral Clarity would be a great name for a metal band.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:03 PM
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My comments have zero connection to the linked post, which I still haven't read. Of course, that may be the problem.

Let me be clear on what I am not saying: If biological dad doesn't want to be in the picture, or is a a high level of extreme dysfunction, then it may be perfectly appropriate to allow the couple to maintain the child without his involvement.

But, I am strongly opposed to the notion that the sanctity of the nonadulterous couple trumps a parent-child relationship. Nosflow's snidery aside, this is true even if there is disruption to a semi-stable relationship, and shouldn't be particularly controversial. The law supports that general presumption -- the couple couldn't say "but we're in a stable marriage" if the biological Dad wanted to assert his rights.

Bit


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:04 PM
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Möral Clärity, surely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:05 PM
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227: It all starts with your living room window.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:05 PM
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228: Yes, in many ways, but perhaps especially with regard to his views on the pros and cons of absolute moral clarity, neb is unlike W. That said, they both look fucking hot in a flight suit, so there's that.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:05 PM
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I'm so looking forward to getting married; surely on my wedding day, someone will explain to me how the stork brings babies.

I'm sure Apo can find you a link.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:06 PM
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227- Just close the curtains first, if you don't mind.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:07 PM
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I'm in a flight suit right now, in fact.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:07 PM
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rather are pushing back against the idea that the stability of the marriage trumps the value of bio-dad's relationship

I don't think the claim is "trumps", but only "may trump".

This appears to be a claim of "trumps", in that the marrieds have a veto:

If the biological father wants involvement, and the father and mother are both fine with it, then they should find a way to make that work.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:08 PM
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I'm on my way over.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:08 PM
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I don't even have curtains.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:08 PM
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If neb and W were sharing a flight suit I would say they were overdressed.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:09 PM
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236, 238: Let us know when it's "Mission Accomplished."


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:09 PM
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the notion that the sanctity of the nonadulterous couple trumps a parent-child relationship

Of course, the male half of the nonadulterous couple has a parent-child relationship with the child, just not biological.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:09 PM
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One flight suit for two people is overdressed by you?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:09 PM
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Clarifying: I'm on my way over to neb's. You're safe, Mr. Blandings. Unless you, too, are wearing a flight suit.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:10 PM
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230: As the letter-writer presents the situation the question isn't really about the rights of the biological father -- he apparently has no interest in forcing himself into the situation. The question is more about whether the child has a right to be told the truth.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:10 PM
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I'm not wearing a flight suit. In fact, I'm not wearing anything. Just making some coffee.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:11 PM
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my parents divorced when I was five, and then married other people when I was 8, so I grew up with four sets of grandparents:
Nana & Papa
Grandma Eleanor & Grandpa Clay
Granny and Pops
Grandma E. T. and Grandpa Park

plus a great-grandmother:
Gramma Gramma

plus my stepbrother's grandparents:
Mimi & Gramps

My mom wants to be called (eventually) Grammer, from The Witch Family ('s Mean Old Grammer Old Witch)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:11 PM
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This appears to be a claim of "trumps", in that the marrieds have a veto

I think that biological parents having legal rights is the right policy. That said, it will sometimes lead to negative outcomes. Under the assumptions I listed, I believe this would be such a case.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:12 PM
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241: Could take a while. I'm on the other side of the country at the moment. Still, it'll be worth the commute.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:13 PM
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But, I am strongly opposed to the notion that the sanctity of the nonadulterous couple trumps a parent-child relationship. Nosflow's snidery aside, this is true even if there is disruption to a semi-stable relationship, and shouldn't be particularly controversial.

So you're taking a strong position that biology=parent-child relationship, which is not, IMO, a non-controversial position, and doesn't become so by repeated assertion.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:13 PM
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221: A large part of my "why" stems from how I'd feel as the child in that situation as well as from how I'd have felt if someone said I couldn't have a role in Rory's life. (Yes, acknowledging the difference that having carried a pregnancy to term does make.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:14 PM
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243: Seems a little constrictive for such an occasion.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:15 PM
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246: Do you at least have a flight suit? Because I'm willing to be persuaded that stopping by your place is worth the time.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:15 PM
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230: Seriously, you're wrong about the law, at least in a lot of places. We absolutely can't assume the biodad has any legal claim to the child. But I don't think that's what's being discussed.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:16 PM
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250 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:16 PM
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237: No, I really meant "if", not "if and only if". People should handle this stuff in a way that works for them and their families, and when there's conflict, generally the biggest asshole should lose. That's neither reality nor law, but I think we're talking morality here, which has little to do with either.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:19 PM
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And you don't need to go to biological parenting trumps all else -- which is not what I am saying -- to get to "it is wrong for a couple in which the wife has an adulterous relationship to exclude a biological dad who is willing to be involved in a kid's life, barring extreme circumstances" -- which is what I am saying.

None of this has much to do with Silvana's post, which apparently describes a situation in which bio-dad didn't want to be involved.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:19 PM
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250 was me.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:19 PM
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Stand back, everybody! This looks like a job for … Bio-Dad!


Posted by: Bio-Dad | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:20 PM
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257.1: Is there some chance that you might attempt at some point to justify that statement?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:22 PM
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254: While I don't do family law professionally, what you're saying here is what I believe to be the case in at least some states: that if a child is born to a married woman whose husband accepts it as his own, that's legally determinative of who the father is regardless of biology.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:24 PM
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260: I took a stab at it in 251.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:25 PM
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Not that what the law is has anything to do with the right thing to do -- I just wanted to agree that Thorn's understanding of the law was mine as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:25 PM
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257 What do you mean by wrong? Unfair to the biological father or wrong for the kid? I can see the argument for the first, but not the second if it would fuck up the relationship between the kid's parents.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:26 PM
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And you don't need to go to biological parenting trumps all else -- which is not what I am saying -- to get to "it is wrong for a couple in which the wife has an adulterous relationship to exclude a biological dad who is willing to be involved in a kid's life, barring extreme circumstances" -- which is what I am saying.

That statement seems like a statement that "biological parenting trumps all else" to me. What if she was having two affairs at the time? You take a DNA test to see which of the two dads who are willing to be involved in a kid's life will be involved in the kid's life.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:26 PM
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There seem like a bunch of difficult questions here. Does the bio-dad have a responsibility to the child to be an involved parent (where there are two other involved parents around), or only a right if it suits him? If his participation is at his option, what do you do if he's willing to be involved, but not pushing for involvement, and the married couple would find his involvement unpleasant -- do they have a responsibility to the kid to actively bring the bio-dad in?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:30 PM
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262: I agree with you that it's harsh to exclude a decent, caring person who wants to have a role in a child's life from having that role, but it seems to me that decent and caring is doing the work, not the biological connection. In the extreme case, you're talking about incorporating someone with whom you/your spouse had a one-night stand into your family's life forever, and I just don't get where there's a moral imperative to do that.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:33 PM
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biological parenting

This phrase really clangs. I know what it's supposed to mean, but having both inseminated and parented, I have to say the two things are pretty different.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:34 PM
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261: I also thought that a woman's husband is the presumptive father, and further, that the married couple can refuse to get a DNA test to confirm the fact. Presumed patrimony is one of the privileges of marriage, I believe.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:36 PM
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268: I still haven't gotten my head around "parent" as a verb, so you're ahead of me.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:36 PM
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254: How? Put aside a situation in which the biodad willingly abdicates custody, either explicitly or by just leaving the picture, or is massively disfunctional to the point of being dangerous. Is there a situation in which a Court would buy "but we're in a stable couple" as a means of denying visitation or at least partial custody?

The point of all of this isn't to deny that kids can be raised well by nonbiological parents. But that doesn't (and shouldn't) create an opportunity to exclude a biological parent who wants to be involved. In the hypo as I understand it (OK, as I'm making it up), the adulterous wife decided, unilaterally, that she would have the kid and raise it with her husband, while kicking biological dad out of the picture. I think that's a pretty lousy choice to make (unless bio dad wants out of the picture, or unless bio dad is at an unusually extreme level of dysfunction).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:36 PM
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In the extreme case, you're talking about incorporating someone with whom you/your spouse had a one-night stand into your family's life forever

Well, for 18 years. And yeah, that's often the consequence of becoming pregnant and choosing to carry the child to term. My understanding of the law was that a biological dad will have parental rights if he seeks to exercise them within a reasonable time after the kid is born.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:38 PM
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270: Yeah, that's part of the clanging too.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:38 PM
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Is there a situation in which a Court would buy "but we're in a stable couple" as a means of denying visitation or at least partial custody?

Seriously, and I'll need to actually google, but I thought "We're a married couple and we say we're both the parents" was legally determinative of fatherhood in at least a bunch of states.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:38 PM
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Unless the relevant CA statutes have changed since 1989, 269 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:40 PM
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Here's an article saying, if I'm reading it correctly, that paternity of a child born to a married couple may only legally be contested by the husband or the wife.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:40 PM
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Damn. NPH-pwned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:41 PM
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Debar Halford!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:42 PM
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Disbar?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:42 PM
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Unless the relevant CA statutes have changed

For some reason, I thought there was a Constitutional issue here that would trump anything statutory.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:44 PM
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Of course, that's one state, and there are fifty. I don't know what the prevailing rule is. And the prevailing rule isn't particularly important in terms of the ethics of the situation, anyway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:44 PM
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280: That's the case NPH linked, in which the bio-dad tried to trump the CA statute and lost in the Supreme Court.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:45 PM
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Oh man, i have to read the links, too?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:47 PM
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How? Put aside a situation in which the biodad willingly abdicates custody, either explicitly or by just leaving the picture, or is massively disfunctional to the point of being dangerous. Is there a situation in which a Court would buy "but we're in a stable couple" as a means of denying visitation or at least partial custody?

Yes, 274 is right. In many states (e.g., mine), a child born to a married mother is legally presumed to be the biological child of the mother's spouse, and that presumption cannot be challenged by anyone outside the marriage (i.e., anyone other than the mother or her spouse).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:47 PM
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And I don't get the calls to "justify" the importance of a biological connection between parents and children. You don't think this is significant? I agree that providing sperm doesn't raise a child-- and biological parents are often big problems, and non-bio parents can raise a child well, sometimes -- but if you don't agree that a biological parents have a defeasible right to be involved in their childrens' lives (and vice-versa) I don't really know how to convince you


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:47 PM
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Oh, so very pwned...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:48 PM
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if you don't agree that a biological parents have a defeasible right to be involved in their childrens' lives (and vice-versa) I don't really know how to convince you

How about this? If you're messing around with a married woman, the right is defeated.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:48 PM
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272.last: That's my understanding of the law also, but that doesn't mean I have to think that's what's morally correct. I haven't thought through what the legal rule ought to be, but in general I lean toward thinking that in a lot of unplanned pregnancies it ought to be up to the mother to decide whether the biological father has a role.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:48 PM
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My understanding of the law was that a biological dad will have parental rights if he seeks to exercise them within a reasonable time after the kid is born.

This is true if the mother is unmarried (even if she otherwise wants nothing to do with him), but not if she's married. At least in the states I'm familiar with, which, incidentally, doesn't include yours, so we're probably both right.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:51 PM
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As I understand it, the legal presumption is about paternity, not custody. It is designed to protect married couples from claims that the child isn't really theirs or disputes over paternity. That's different from this (made up) in which the wife admits that the third party non-husband is the father of the child (paternity) but wants to exclude him from custody on the grounds that she is in a stable marriage.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:52 PM
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Sorry, badly pwned again. I'll shut up.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:53 PM
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287 doesn't cover the "vice versa" part.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:53 PM
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If you're messing around with a married woman, the right is defeated.

This too, but even in the case of unmarried people I don't see how the contribution of sperm is in itself grounds for asserting a right to a role in the life of the child and mother.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:56 PM
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So is the vice-versa part supposed to be that the child has a right to be involved in h/h biological parent's life that can exist in the absence of the parent's right so to be involved in the child's? Or to have the parent involved in h/h life? It's less obvious to me.

While the child is in its nonage, who can claim the right on its behalf?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:56 PM
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That's different from this (made up) in which the wife admits that the third party non-husband is the father of the child (paternity) but wants to exclude him from custody on the grounds that she is in a stable marriage.

It's different intellectually, but it's not different legally unless she's suing the third party non-husband to establish paternity. If he filed a suit seeking custody, it would be thrown out of court without even being considered.



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:56 PM
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I know of a single mom who did roughly 271.2 to the dad after suing him for support.

I see things Di and Halford's way (the genetic father's right to involvement shouldn't be unilaterally waived by mom or other relatives. Commercial sperm donors waive it explicitly.)

The case cited in 275 seems inhuman and archaic to me, as bizarre as reading about property rights applied to human beings, or wives not being allowed to retain their own property. Marriage as a legal entity just isn't that relevant anymore-- that's why so many people do without it, no?

I guess that I have a lot of confidence in people setting aside their own interests for their kids. I understand that there are common circumstances where parents use custody or influence to hurt each other through their kids, but I would hate to think of that mode as a determinant of the rules.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:58 PM
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And I don't get the calls to "justify" the importance of a biological connection between parents and children. You don't think this is significant?

No, for fathers I really don't. The biological connection very commonly arises because of a social and emotional relationship with the mother, and that's significant, as is whatever social and emotional connection the biological father forms with the child, but mere ejaculation, without more, doesn't do it for me.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:58 PM
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290: That's different from this (made up) in which the wife admits that the third party non-husband is the father of the child (paternity) but wants to exclude him from custody on the grounds that she is in a stable marriage.

Depends on what 'admits' means. My general sense is that the couple would have the practical ability to exclude a bio-dad from custody whether or not they 'admit' his relationship to the child under the CA statute or a similar one, because only they could go to court to challenge paternity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:58 PM
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293: perhaps on the presumption that such a person will normally play a role in the child's upbringing, and that it is good to have such a person involved in the child's upbringing? OTOH it's hard for me to discriminate on intuitive grounds between the positions that state, on the one hand, that a sperm donor's right is defeated because of the circumstances of his paternity, or, on the other, that a sperm donor just doesn't have any such right at all.

It would be nice if the proponents of the position that there exists such a defeasible right said something about the circumstances in which it is defeated, and why those circumstances defeat it, so that we can understand what the right is all about and whatnot.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 3:59 PM
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mere ejaculation, without more, doesn't do it for me

that's what she said?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:01 PM
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Brock-pwned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:01 PM
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||

The video for the new n+1 book Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager kinda makes me want to read it.

I might be wary that I haven't read more than half of any of the interviews as they appeared on n+1's website over the past year. Or I might just buy it off the video.

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:02 PM
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I do think there's something more important about the mere biological relationship than NPH seems to -- I'd think an ideal outcome would be one where the bio-dad was known to and at least somewhat involved with the kid. I just think that there are also very plausible emotional circumstances where the downside of that would outweigh the upside.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:03 PM
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294: While the child is in its nonage, who can claim the right on its behalf?

Once a mess like this gets to the courts, a guardian ad litem will often be appointed to advocate for the child's interests as distinct from any of the possible parents.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:05 PM
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The case cited in 275 seems inhuman and archaic to me, as bizarre as reading about property rights applied to human beings, or wives not being allowed to retain their own property. Marriage as a legal entity just isn't that relevant anymore-- that's why so many people do without it, no?

I'm not sure about "inhuman", but "archaic" is sort of true, although I don't think that makes it a bad rule in principle. To bring it up to date, we wouldn't need to throw out the rule, we could instead expand it to cover any child born to a woman in a long-term, committed partnership-relationship. Of course, that's much fuzzier than "married, or not?", which makes it messier to apply. But the idea behind the law doesn't strike me as fundamentally wrong.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:06 PM
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It would be nice if the proponents of the position that there exists such a defeasible right said something about the circumstances in which it is defeated, and why those circumstances defeat it, so that we can understand what the right is all about and whatnot.

Well, i think RH suggested in 271 that the right would be defeated a situation in which the biodad willingly abdicates custody, either explicitly or by just leaving the picture, or is massively d[y]sfunctional to the point of being dangerous.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:07 PM
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If I'm reading 289 correctly, the biological father has a right to force himself into the life of an unmarried mother to the point of challenging for paternity, but apparently not once she's married (even if paternity isn't disputed). This seems ... confused.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:08 PM
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I'd think an ideal outcome would be one where the bio-dad was known to and at least somewhat involved with the kid.

Could you spell out why, exactly? (And perhaps distinguish it from the "ideal" outcome in a sperm donor case, unless the ideal there is the same in your view.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:08 PM
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303: I don't entirely agree with me either, but I'd argue that your ideal outcome assumes that bio-dad is a decent human being who has and can maintain a decent relationship with mother, kid, and others involved in kid's life, which is a lot more than just biology.

As we drift more into talking about law, it's also worth emphasizing that family law is basically trying to perform neurosurgery with a chainsaw. Any assertion I make herein about what the right result might be in any given family situation should not be taken as an assertion that the law ought to be structured to achieve that result.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:12 PM
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295, 298 -- if paternity of the child -- i.e., who the biological father is -- is not contested (as in, the wife admits that the father was the third party) -- my understanding is that the presumption wouldn't apply, since paternity would no longer be at issue. It would make it difficult (after a period of time set by statute or law, after which the presumption becomes noncontestable) for the third party to bring a suit seeking to establish paternity if that was contested, and of course gives a married couple who wants to keep a child in this situation some leverage (that is, so long as they're willing to lie about paternity, they're fine). And, separately, the child's circumstances with the married couple would of course be relevant to the custody determination.

The general point, though, is that where you have two parents who are acknowledged to be mother and father, and one of them (say. the mother) is married, that doesn't defeat the single parents' rights. Which is as it should be.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:13 PM
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Once a mess like this gets to the courts, a guardian ad litem will often be appointed to advocate for the child's interests as distinct from any of the possible parents.

Why should the thing have to go to court for the child to assert its right? (It doesn't seem we're talking about rights presently recognized in law.) Suppose the parents in the post as a reaction to which all this began tell the kid that his father is so-and-so; can he then exercise his right on the spot? Or might we think that if the parents don't tell him, they're preventing him from learning information of great importance to his exercise of a potential right and that they should tell him posthaste on that account?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:13 PM
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308: Nah, I think that's ideal in the sperm donor case too (that is, I have no objection to allowing sperm donors to disavow financial responsibility for possible children, because otherwise who'd donate sperm, but I think at least some contact would be ideal). Partially the medical history thing, but more just that I think it's good to know your family -- they're people who are like you in many ways, and you can get a sense of alternative ways of being that are within your spectrum of possibilities from them. That was goofily phrased, but you know what I mean -- there's something valuable about recognizing your eyebrows on someone else's face, and listening to them tell you about the problems they always had keeping their desk clean.

It's not a tragedy if you don't have that --plenty of people grow up fine without access to both biological parents. But if it's available, I think it's an actively good thing to have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:15 PM
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If the genetic father has no rights, what about the genetic mother? Not completely academic because of surrogacy. What about adoption courts' preference to place sibs (same degree of relatedness as parent-child) together?

While it's a politicizable issue, there are lots of cases where separated sibs or children of donors have actively sought the lost information.
There was just a case where a father fought for years against grandparents to get custody of the kid after the mother (who had taken the kid to her native country) died.

305. I guess that I have a lot more faith in the stability of parenting impulses against partnering impulses. I understand that often parents don't bother much, so maybe this is irrational. Also, I think that it's helpful for people to know whether either parent is depressive, manic, and so on-- both the deficit and the adaptations are useful information.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:17 PM
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it's good to know your family

Of course, some might find this a tendentious use of the word "family". It might be good to know your blood relations because of the good that comes from seeing your face and habits in another's, but there is a nonbiological sense of "family" as well.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:18 PM
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Some might—but would I? I'll never say.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:18 PM
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if paternity of the child -- i.e., who the biological father is -- is not contested (as in, the wife admits that the father was the third party) -- my understanding is that the presumption wouldn't apply, since paternity would no longer be at issue. It would make it difficult (after a period of time set by statute or law, after which the presumption becomes noncontestable) for the third party to bring a suit seeking to establish paternity if that was contested, and of course gives a married couple who wants to keep a child in this situation some leverage (that is, so long as they're willing to lie about paternity, they're fine).

You're wrong in California (unless the law has changed since 1989). The couple doesn't have to lie about paternity -- no one other than the couple has standing to go to the court to challenge paternity. The linked USSC case was a biological father with a DNA test, who had lived with the mother for some period of time after the birth of the child. The statute still made it impossible for him to challenge paternity -- only the mother or the mother's husband can do so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:18 PM
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I'm not sure I'm completely following 310, but if I am, then it's wrong (at least in the states with rules like we're discussing, which probably isn't all states). The suit would be dismissed before the married couple was put in a position requiring them to lie about paternity. Again: there's a legal presumption that the spouse of a married mother is the father of her children*, and that presumption cannot be challenged by anyone outside of the marriage.

*Not sure how exactly this works with gay marriages, but presumably it doesn't, really.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:20 PM
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perhaps on the presumption that such a person will normally play a role in the child's upbringing, and that it is good to have such a person involved in the child's upbringing?

Sure, but even when the presumption is correct, I can't see it as the basis for a right to be asserted. Didn't an issue arise recently concerning a man's participation in his partner's decision to have an abortion? Again, mere ejaculation doesn't do it for me. (Laydeez.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:22 PM
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Completely pwned once again. A new record?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:23 PM
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While it's a politicizable issue, there are lots of cases where separated sibs or children of donors have actively sought the lost information.
There was just a case where a father fought for years against grandparents to get custody of the kid after the mother (who had taken the kid to her native country) died.

Plenty of people spend plenty of time obsessing about might-have-beens, particularly when there are social cues telling them those might-have-beens are important. That doesn't necessarily mean that the social cues are right.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:23 PM
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318: hey, whatever, man. It's not my position.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:27 PM
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It's not my position.

Lacking, as it does, a flight suit.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:29 PM
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The "marriage" bit matters a lot. I'm glad other people are coming up with links because I hate having to copy and paste on the fucking iPad, but for instance the fact that my partner and I are a stable couple doesn't matter at all or give us any rights in our state. In fact, if we adopt, it will legally be my parent adopting and I'll just be doing a lot of things to prove I'm acting as a parent so that when the law of our state changes, we can get a second-parent adoption done so I can have a legal relationship to our child.

This sort of thing comes up unfortunately frequently in gay patenting situations, often when one ex-partner has entered a straight marriage and wants to deny the other ex access to the child(ren), which has been successful in many but not all cases. There's a particularly nasty case in our area where the biomom and the known sperm donor (also gay) are trying to prevent the non-biomom any visitation rights. Despite a signed parenting statement at the time of conception laying out roles, the bios now insist that every child needs a mommy and a daddy and, in fact, the terms the child used to refer to the various parties have made a strong showing on both sides in the legal documents.

I'm someone who finds it kind of creepy that, say, adoptions create new birth certificates with false information on them and, in most states, seal the original accurate birth certificate. It's the same reason I think it's problematic that this kid's mom's husband has his name on the "father" line on the birth certificate when he knows that he isn't the father, but I guess birth certificates have always been problematic for people who don't fit community norms.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:33 PM
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I think at least some contact would be ideal). Partially the medical history thing

Medical history can be ascertained in the absence of contact (and is thoroughly reviewed before the fact in egg donation; I don't know about sperm donation). To be clear, I wouldn't mind my girls having contact with the anonymous woman who donated eggs to us, and I'll support them if they want to try to track her down someday. I just don't see that genetic material alone is the basis for a right to be involved in someone's life.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:35 PM
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And hey, while we're on the topic, any recommendations on what to do in Topeka when we go there to meet my partner's biodad's other daughter in a few weeks?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:38 PM
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This sort of thing comes up unfortunately frequently in gay patenting situations

And there's so rarely any prior art.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:40 PM
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325: Yeah, like NPH said, what I think is an ideal outcome is a far cry from who I think should be entitled to maintain their rights in court. If we could get the gay-marriage injustices Thorn points out straightened out, which is conceptually very simple if we could just get it done, I wouldn't think there was much wrong with the California rule that paternity of a married woman's child couldn't be challenged by an outsider to the marriage. I'm generally in favor of only those people actually responsible for raising a child having enforceable legal rights, and while there are all sorts of situations where that's not going to be simple to determine, it's probably not going to include sperm or egg donors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:42 PM
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Gah. Maybe I haven't made myself clear. "Paternity" answers the question "who is the father of this child, in a biological sense -- that is, who impregnated the mother.". The person with paternity acquires legal rights and legal obligations. You two are absolutely right that there is, or was in many states, a presumption that paternity belonged to the husband in a married couple, and that there were bars to challenging that presumption after a period of time.

In the hypothetical case we're talking about, paternity is not at issue. Paternity has been established, by the admission of the mother, in favor of the non-husband third party. In the real world, this happens all the time; two people have a kid and then one of them gets married to (or more rarely, is married to) someone else, and paternity is not at issue. The question then becomes what interest does the non-husband (for whom paternity has been established) have in the raising of his child?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:43 PM
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If his paternity's been legally established, I'd assume the situation would be almost exactly that of a divorced father where the mother remarried. I'm not sure what you mean by 'interest' -- do you mean 'enforceable legal rights'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:46 PM
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326: ha ha, good catch! I'm really nit sure whether to blame it on autocorrect or myself. Obviously I did SOMETHING wrong!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:47 PM
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330: And now "nit sure" is showing up? I have to go turn this stuff off before I start sounding even more ridiculous. I'm not even drunk, alas!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:49 PM
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329 -- yes. And the situation (as I understand it) in such a situation is that the third-party father has rights and obligations identical to a divorced father.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:49 PM
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332: this is right, but I think you're underestimating how big a qualifier LB has appended at the beginning of 329. A DNA test and the mother's "admission", together, wouldn't be enough to do it. Paternity could not be legally established in favor of the non-spouse father unless either the mother or the spouse-father legally challenged the authority of the spouse-father.

You're talking about a custody suit, which a man doesn't have standing to bring unless he's legally established paternity. And he doesn't have standing to bring a paternity suit against an couple who were married at the time a child was conceived. So, contra 332, he generally really has no rights.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 4:59 PM
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Paternity could not be legally established in favor of the non-spouse father unless either the mother or the spouse-father legally challenged the authoritypaternity of the spouse-father.

Sorry, fixed.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:00 PM
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While you're generally right, the valid point that Halford's making is that once a married couple voluntarily went to court to establish that a third party was the father of the woman's child, he would then have enforceable legal rights that couldn't be rolled back. You couldn't get to that position, where the bio-father had legal rights, without the married couple actively causing it to happen. But once the bio-father was established as having legal paternity, he'd be in the same legal and practical position as a divorced father.

I'm not sure where this gets us in the context of the thread, but it's accurate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:10 PM
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So, this thread prompted me to waste even more time by doing a bit of legal research, and as best as I understand California law the rules are now these (and they've been dramatically changed since the 1980s, with a ton of caselaw on this issue).

First, by statute, only "presumed fathers" have standing to sue to file an action to legally establish paternity. However, by statute, a "presumed father" includes a father who holds himself out to be the father of the child, attempts to participate in the child's life, and allows the child into his home. The mother cannot (as a matter of caselaw, under the due process clause) prevent a child from having access to the home in order to defeat a father's standing to sue. A "presumed father" may also be established by a declaration of a non-married woman or in a number of other ways.

Once a presumed father gets the ability to sue, he may ask for blood tests or seek other evidence to establish paternity.

So, the bottom line seems to be this; an unmarried man who has a child with a married woman cannot challenge paternity if he does not attempt to become involved in the child's life. If he does, he can.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:42 PM
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336: Okay, well then CA is different from some other states. Good to know.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:45 PM
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prevent a child from having access to the home

How does that work for small children? A mother must allow a man who wishes to establish himself as a presumed father to take her infant to his home, even if she contests his paternity? It can't work like that, but I'm not sure how it does work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:45 PM
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So, the bottom line seems to be this; an unmarried man who has a child with a married woman cannot challenge paternity if he does not attempt to become involved in the child's life. If he does, he can.

To restate the above question, how does a man not married to the mother 'attempt to become involved in the child's life', say, if the child's an infant if she doesn't cooperate? Can he get a court to grant him enforceable visitation rights before he establishes paternity?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:47 PM
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For the citation junkies:

"A man who has not legally married nor attempts to marry the mother of his child is a presumed father under Family Code section 7611, subdivision (d), if he "receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child." "If an unwed, biological father promptly comes forward and demonstrates a full commitment to his parental responsibilities, his federal constitutional right to due process prohibits the termination of his parental [rights] absent a showing of his unfitness as a parent." (In re Julia U. (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 532, 540-541, 74 Cal.Rptr.2d 920; In re Zacharia D., supra, 6 Cal.4th at p. 450, 24 Cal.Rptr.2d 751, 862 P.2d 751.) A father has the burden of showing he is entitled to presumed father status by a preponderance of the evidence. (In re Spencer W. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1647, 1653, 56 Cal.Rptr.2d 524.)

In re Casey A., D041044, 2003 WL 21235317 (Cal. Ct. App. May 29, 2003).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:53 PM
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Really? And that stands even if the mother is married to someone else?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:55 PM
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Because when the mother is married to someone else, a presumed father already exists.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:57 PM
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339 -- as best as I can tell from the caselaw I've skimmed, the rule seems to be that bio dad is expected to make the best possible effort he can under the circumstances. If the mother/family unilaterally prevents him from, e.g., taking the kid into the home, that weighs against the mother. However, bio dad needs to show some significant evidence of an attempt at involvement in the kid's life. I imagine that in practice it's super fact dependent and up to the discretion of a judge (as is so much else in family law).

341 -- Yes. For these purposes, "presumed father" just gets you standing to sue to establish paternity, so there can be more than one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:01 PM
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My California law Googling hasn't produced anything definitive, but leaves me unconvinced that unmarried bio-dad has as clear and easy a path as Robert seems to be suggesting.

This discussion is doing nothing to weaken my suspicion that screwing around is just too much work.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:02 PM
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I'm having trouble reading the CA statutes the way you do. Here's Family Law sections 7540-41:

7540. Except as provided in Section 7541, the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.

7541. (a) Notwithstanding Section 7540, if the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based on blood tests performed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 7550), are that the husband is not the father of the child, the question of paternity of the husband shall be resolved accordingly.

(b) The notice of motion for blood tests under this section may be filed not later than two years from the child's date of birth by the husband, or for the purposes of establishing paternity by the presumed father or the child through or by the child's guardian ad litem. As used in this subdivision, "presumed father" has the meaning given in Sections 7611 and 7612.

(c) The notice of motion for blood tests under this section may be filed by the mother of the child not later than two years from the child's date of birth if the child's biological father has filed an affidavit with the court acknowledging paternity of the child.

So, this looks like only the husband, the mother, the 'presumed father', or the child's guardian ad litem may move for blood tests.

Looking at the definition of presumed father in 7610, I can't see how it includes a biological father of a baby born to a then-married woman.

The caselaw may explain something I'm overlooking in the statute -- can you give me a cite for something that spells it out?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:04 PM
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Ah, 340 straightens me out -- I missed 7611(d). I still don't see how a married woman's lover could possibly get 'presumed father' status without her active cooperation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:06 PM
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LB: Check out Family Code 7611(d); a presumed father is one who "receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child."

The "into his home" requirement was relaxed on due process grounds in a case called In re Jerry W in which the Court of Appeals held that a woman couldn't take active steps to prevent entry into the home in order to defeat that requirement and block standing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:08 PM
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Were we talking about a teenager here? "Active steps to prevent entry into the house" doesn't make any sense in the context of an infant or small child.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:10 PM
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And do you have a cite? I'm searching by the casename, but I'm not getting anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:14 PM
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Never mind, I got it. Jerry P, not W., 95 Cal. App. 4th 793.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:20 PM
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Sorry, In re Jerry P, not W. 95 Cal.App.4th 793.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:20 PM
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That was creepy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:21 PM
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348/349: even if we're talking about an infant, Halford's citations do certainly modify my understanding of the situation (for CA), and plainly also makes the situation in the OP much more fraught (if it's in CA or a state with similar law). If the mother wants to let the third-party non-spouse biological father into the child's life, could that potentially jeopardize the legal paternity of her husband? (It seems so, yes?) If so, that would maybe weigh against the arguments in favor of allowing the kid access to his biological father.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:22 PM
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It's a weird case -- the father who gets 'presumed father' status is neither the mother's husband (the mother is unmarried) nor the biological father, but the mother's boyfriend during pregnancy who believed himself to be the father, held himself out as such, and consistently visited the kid in foster care after it was taken from the mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:25 PM
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(the mother is unmarried)

Wait, so why is this applicable?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:27 PM
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356

Wait, so why is this applicable


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:28 PM
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Wait, so why is this applicable


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:29 PM
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If the mother wants to let the third-party non-spouse biological father into the child's life, could that potentially jeopardize the legal paternity of her husband? (It seems so, yes?)

It seems very clearly yes. I don't read Jerry P. as providing much of an avenue for a bio-father to establish paternity as against a married couple who aren't cooperating. But once they're allowing visitation and admitting his biological status, he can sue for paternity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:29 PM
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If the mother wants to let the third-party non-spouse biological father into the child's life, could that potentially jeopardize the legal paternity of her husband? (It seems so, yes?)

It seems, based on my meager research, that this is right.

On the other hand, if the mother refuses to let the non-spouse into the child's life (when he's demonstrated a strong willingness to get involved) that may weigh against the legal paternity of the husband, as well, since the mother isn't unilaterally allowed to prevent access from the biological dad.

So what you would likely have is a big old mess with lawyering on all sides, if this became a fight. My guess is that , at the end of the day, a biological dad who could show (a) that he was duped by the Mom into not knowing he was a parent and (b) that he is ready, willing, and able to play a large role in the child's life would be able to obtain at least visitation rights. But this is just a guess.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:30 PM
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355: It's not squarely on point, but it does say that a man can get 'presumed father' status by some means other than housing the child, if the mother or other people are preventing him from taking the child into his house. Once that's possible, you could imagine a bio-father bootstrapping his way into 'presumed father' status just by being pushy about it -- stalking the couple and baby. And then he could move for a paternity test under 7541(b).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:33 PM
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355 -- because it holds that, as a matter of due process, the "receives the child into his home" part of the "receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child" statutory criteria for obtaining presumed parent status cannot be blocked by a mother who is actively taking steps to prevent the would-be father from receiving the kid into the home.

There's a question as to how this would apply in a case in which the would-be dad has no prior contact with the kid; but it's an open question, and LB is correct that the facts of that case are odd.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:33 PM
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My guess is that , at the end of the day, a biological dad who could show (a) that he was duped by the Mom into not knowing he was a parent and (b) that he is ready, willing, and able to play a large role in the child's life would be able to obtain at least visitation rights.

He'd need an impressive showing to get to the 'presumed father' stage, and being a biological father wouldn't help him until he got there. While it's not impossible, I don't see it as realistic without either cooperation from the couple or a Jerry P.-like situation where the mother is at least temporarily out of the picture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:35 PM
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if the mother refuses to let the non-spouse into the child's life (when he's demonstrated a strong willingness to get involved) that may weigh against the legal paternity of the husband, as well, since the mother isn't unilaterally allowed to prevent access from the biological dad

This, I'm not following at all. She's clearly allowed to refuse to let the non-spouse be involved with the child prior to his establishing paternity (or possibly "presumed paternity"), but he never gets there if she doesn't give him access. Or did you mean once his paternity was established? Because yes, at that point the bridge would have been crossed. Her spouse would no longer be the child's legal father.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:36 PM
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He'd need an impressive showing to get to the 'presumed father' stage

Well, he'd have to put together some very solid evidence that he was becoming involved in the kid's life, and that, if he wasn't able to do things like bring the kid into his home, that the failure to do so was a result of actively being prevented from doing so by the couple. In practice, who knows how high a bar this would be.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:39 PM
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Once that's possible, you could imagine a bio-father bootstrapping his way into 'presumed father' status just by being pushy about it -- stalking the couple and baby.

This seems to incredibly far removed from the facts of Jerry P (as you've described) that it's actually quite hard to me to imagine it. I mean, I can imagine that kidnapping the child would work to establish presumed father status, but I have a very hard time believing a court might rule that way.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:40 PM
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363: It doesn't seem plausible to me, but if you start from Jerry P. -- showed up in the hospital, visited frequently when the kid was in foster care, brought presents for the kid, clearly would have taken the kid in if he were allowed -- and stretch it to the limits of plausibility, I can imagine getting to presumed fatherhood by stalking, if a court decided to be sympathetic. Showing up in the hospital and claiming to be the father; attempting to visit and being turned away; claiming loudly and publically to be the father... that sort of thing.

It seems almost impossibly implausible in real life, and it'd be a really fine line between being intense enough about it to establish "presumed fatherhood" and not getting arrested for harassment and stalking, but it's not absolutely utterly inconceivable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:43 PM
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My advice remains the same, even in California: if you're a man who want to secure paternity rights, you are better off having a child with someone other than a married woman, unless that woman is married to you.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:44 PM
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365: But really, you're right. The only way I could see this coming into play would be with an at least initially cooperative mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:45 PM
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367: Indeed. And if you are a woman who would like to avoid disrupting a stable marriage, don't conceive a child with someone other than your husband.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:27 PM
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I actually feel reasonable confident that the third-party natural father in CA still couldn't get to the blood-test stage, much less the parents-must-lie-about-paternity stage. Looking again at 7540:

7540. Except as provided in Section 7541, the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.
7541. (a) Notwithstanding Section 7540, if the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based on blood tests performed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 7550), are that the husband is not the father of the child, the question of paternity of the husband shall be resolved accordingly. (b) The notice of motion for blood tests under this section may be filed not later than two years from the child's date of birth by the husband, or for the purposes of establishing paternity by the presumed father or the child through or by the child's guardian ad litem. As used in this subdivision, "presumed father" has the meaning given in Sections 7611 and 7612.

Above, you're teasing out a (very weak) basis on which the third-party father could arguably, possibly be deemed a "presumed father" under 7611(e). The husband, of course, has a crystal clear basis for presumed fatherhood under 7611(a). So what do we do? Here's 7612(b):

(b) If two or more presumptions arise under Section 7610 or 7611 that conflict with each other, or if a presumption under Section 7611 conflicts with a claim pursuant to Section 7610, the presumption which on the facts is founded on the weightier considerations of policy and logic controls.

Let's see, do the weightier considerations of policy and logic go to the woman's husband or to the third-party stalker?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:28 PM
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I read/skimmed the Kelsey S. case on which Jerry P. relied pretty heavily and it squicked the hell out of me. The court applied a really shaky legal analysis--basically construing a long string of USSCt cases in which bio-dad lost to support the proposition that bio-dad wins if he really really wants to--and took its own omnipotence for granted to a degree that's scary even in a family law case. At least on those facts (mom wanted to place kid with couple that wanted to adopt her out of the hospital, bio-dad wanted custody), I don't have much difficult concluding that among mom, bio-dad, and the California Supreme Court, I'd rather trust mom's judgment of how best to proceed, and even if I didn't, I wouldn't be remanding the thing for new fact-finding under a new legal standard after the kid had already been living with the would-be adoptive parents for three years.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:29 PM
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Just to make this less boring, since the legal issue is far less interesting than the moral issue, let me contend with this from NPH:

No, for fathers I really don't. The biological connection very commonly arises because of a social and emotional relationship with the mother, and that's significant, as is whatever social and emotional connection the biological father forms with the child, but mere ejaculation, without more, doesn't do it for me.

I agree that "mere ejaculation" doesn't do anything. But in the case of a biological father who wants to be involved in a kid's life (and that's a big qualification-- that desire to be involved means a lot) I really think that it is outrageous that one would presume that a biological connection between a father and a child is not entitled to weight.

Going back to the orignal hypothetical as I originally (mis) understood it (the misunderstanding being the biodad's willingness and capacity to be involved), there seems to be a consensus that it might be OK for adulterous mom simply to unilaterally cut biodad out of the picture entirely, even in the face of his expressed desire to be involved. Would anyone here support an analagous unilateral termination of biomom's parenthood by biodad? I doubt it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:32 PM
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369: Or abort, but if it's OK to deny bio-dad's paternity via abortion, why not via simply saying "nope, husband's and my kid, butt out"?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:33 PM
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I haven't read this thread past about 250 and I won't, because the obvious and morally clear solution is to call "bio-dad" "uncle".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:33 PM
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375

I don't have much difficult concluding that among mom, bio-dad, and the California Supreme Court, I'd rather trust mom's judgment of how best to proceed

Why? Isn't this just a basic prejudice against fathers?

(I think Brock is wrong about 370 above, but I'm frankly bored with that argument).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:35 PM
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372.last: Nope, because at the point of birth bio-mom has a hell of a lot more skin in the game. I'm OK with saying men can't have babies absent a willing partner.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:36 PM
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370 was meant as a response to the idea in 358, that the third-party could potentially gain a right to challenge paternity if given access to the child. I'm not sure I buy that. (I certainly don't buy the even more outlandish idea that he'd have any sort of a chance in the absence of having been granted access to the child.) When there are conflicting presumptions of presumed fatherhood, the court is going to determine who gets that status prior to ordering a blood test. (Because other than the woman or her husband, only a presumed father has standing to ask for a blood test.) When there's a husband in the picture, who isn't himself challenging the paternity, I just can't imagine a court ever getting to the idea that any other party was the "presumed" father, even if they've spent a lot of time with the kid, and are close friends of the family. It would be absurd.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:40 PM
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375.1: If you want to call it that. The point is that somebody has to have the authority to make the decision and litigation is best avoided. If bio-dad wants to have a role, I don't think it's crazy to make the standard "convince mom" rather than "convince a judge who doesn't know either of you".


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:40 PM
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Yeah, with due respect, I say fuck a bunch of 376. That's not meant as a personal attack on you, but I really am not OK at all with the notion that a dad's rights are simply trumpable by mom's -- once the decision to give birth has been made. Obviously, this reflects my own experiences and prejudices, but I really think that there is really a lot of bullshit (much of it sexist) behind the presumption you're making there. The kid is genetically 1/2 the Dad's, and if he's willing to step up to the parenting plate, he should be able to.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:40 PM
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371: I haven't read the case there, but as you describe it I'm sympathizing with the bio-dad, and with the court. As we sit there in the hospital, the bio-mother has no interest in parenting, and the bio-father does. Why does it make sense to allow the bio-mother, with no parenting relationship with the child, to unilaterally terminate the bio-father's relationship over his objections? The adoptive parents have no interest until after the bio-father's relationship is terminated, and I think the bio-father and the kid do have a significant interest in having a relationship with each other.

(Now, given the realities of litigation, the three-year lag before the decision is a problem. Were I the court I'd probably find that the interests of the child required staying with the adoptive parents in that case, but the next father who wanted to veto an adoption and get custody himself should get it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:41 PM
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377 -- as I understand the caselaw, there can be more than one "presumed father" for the purposes of establishing standing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:43 PM
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When there are conflicting presumptions of presumed fatherhood, the court is going to determine who gets that status prior to ordering a blood test.

I think that's wrong -- I think you can have two presumed fathers, and then you weigh the facts to decide who wins. (Under those circumstances, I wouldn't be surprised if husband-dad got paternity even in the face of a DNA test showing he wasn't bio-dad, but I think if a court bought the stalking as a route to presumed fatherhood, he'd get the test.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:44 PM
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381: I haven't read any case law that hasn't been excerpted in this thread, but if that's the case, what does 7612(b) mean?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:44 PM
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376: bio-mom has a hell of a lot more skin in the game.

I'm not seeing it. Eight months before birth, she had more skin in the game. But going forward from birth, she's walking away from the kid in favor of someone, either an adoptive family or the bio-dad. The bio-dad who wants to parent has more skin in the game than the bio-mom who isn't going to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:46 PM
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379: My starting point is that if the biological parents can't agree, any solution is going to suck for somebody. We'd like to make it suck as little as possible for the kid, and we'd like to avoid extended litigation because that's damaging all by itself. If the only connection between dad and kid is genetic, and if mom concludes, for good reasons or bad, that the best thing for her and kid is that bio-dad is never part of the picture, I'm very reluctant to conclude that the unfairness to decent would-be dads who are trying to do the right thing outweighs the mischief created by allowing less admirable characters to litigate their way in.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:48 PM
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373: Abortion isn't really a denial of paternity so much as a rendering irrelevant of paternity. Saying that bio-dad has no right to compel bio-mom to carry a pregnancy to term is a very different moral question than saying bio-dad has a right to be involved with the child once it is born.

I'm curious if those for whom mere ejaculation is not enough to justify visitation rights also think it's not enough to justify compelling financial support.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:48 PM
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Seriously, I'm bored with this, but you can get a proceeding under 7630 (I think, too sick of this to look this up) to establish who is the presumed father for purposes of 7611, so there is a possibility of contesting who gets the presumed father role. Once that has been done, all of the considerations get weighed in order to determine who the father should be. In practice, will the married person trump the nonmarried biodad? Probably sometimes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:49 PM
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383: It says "if two or more presumptions arise", then you look at the facts. So the two presumptions arise -- husband-dad gets a presumption, and stalker-dude gets a presumption. Now that stalker-dude has his presumption, he can cash that in for a blood test, and then you look at the facts to decide who wins. He gets his test during the looking-at-the-facts process.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:49 PM
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389

Were I the court I'd probably find that the interests of the child required staying with the adoptive parents in that case, but the next father who wanted to veto an adoption and get custody himself should get it.

This is the brain surgery with a chainsaw problem, and obviously there's really no great answer, but this feels like the sort of thing that's a lot easier to say when talking about a bunch of people you don't know. I mean, that's one hell of a blow to the interests of the father (who's wanted the kid all along, enough to be in court litigating the issue).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:52 PM
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Amen to everything in 386,


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:52 PM
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I haven't read the case there, but as you describe it I'm sympathizing with the bio-dad, and with the court. As we sit there in the hospital, the bio-mother has no interest in parenting, and the bio-father does. Why does it make sense to allow the bio-mother, with no parenting relationship with the child, to unilaterally terminate the bio-father's relationship over his objections? The adoptive parents have no interest until after the bio-father's relationship is terminated, and I think the bio-father and the kid do have a significant interest in having a relationship with each other.

Mostly because the bio-mother knows more than the court does about the parties involved and is in a better position to imagine what will happen going forward if the kid is placed with bio-dad. If all bio-dad has going for him is ejaculation, all he's losing if the kid is adopted is a might-have-been, and I don't think protecting that is worth three years of litigation.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:54 PM
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389: True. But there's got to be some timelag at which the kid is attached enough to the adoptive family that prying them back out is insane.

NPH: Seriously, walk me through the skin-in-the-game argument. You're sitting in the hospital, with two people and a baby. Both are equally genetically related to the baby. One wants to parent it. The other wants not to be responsible for it. Why would you make the one who doesn't want to be responsible for it the sole decisionmaker?

Pregnancy, sure, but by the time the baby's born that's a sunk cost -- I don't see why it's important going forward.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:56 PM
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Look, I know this is something of a dick move, but how would you have felt if your wife had unilaterally decided to put your kid up for adoption immediately after (he/she, I can't remember, and also can't remember if you adopted, so apologies in advance) was born?

Dads have a duty to support their kids, but also should have the right to (if they're willing and capable) to parent their kids.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:57 PM
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394

Abortion isn't really a denial of paternity so much as a rendering irrelevant of paternity. Saying that bio-dad has no right to compel bio-mom to carry a pregnancy to term is a very different moral question than saying bio-dad has a right to be involved with the child once it is born.

Only if you assume that genetics=fatherhood, which is what we're arguing about.

I'm curious if those for whom mere ejaculation is not enough to justify visitation rights also think it's not enough to justify compelling financial support.

Nope, because it's the kid's interests that justify financial support. OTOH, if bio-dad is blocked from a legal determination of paternity, I don't see how he could end up owing child support.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:58 PM
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395

Maybe there's caselaw expanding on this, but if not, I'd argue that's a very bad reading of the statute. 7541 says blood tests can be requested by "the presumed father", and presumed father "has the meaning given in Sections 7611 and 7612." 7612 says that if two presumptions arise under 7611, "the presumption which on the facts is founded on the weightier considerations of policy and logic controls."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 7:59 PM
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396

I'm out of the argument about the law, Brock. Use your Westlaw to look up some California cases or treatises yourself if you'd like.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:00 PM
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397

But there's got to be some timelag at which the kid is attached enough to the adoptive family that prying them back out is insane.

Well, at some point in the timeline the kid will be old enough to express a reasoned preference about its own interests that should be taken into consideration, sure. I'm not sure it's "insane" at any point before that. A huge tragedy? Sure. But so is depriving the biological father of his child. So.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:05 PM
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398

39: 395 was to 388. 387 sounds basically right, procedurally.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:07 PM
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all he's losing if the kid is adopted is a might-have-been

If he really wants to raise a child and hasn't had and doesn't expect a lot of the kind or relationships that might to lead to his impregnating a woman, he'll think he's losing something pretty important. Then of course you get to the question of whether it should be important in any way that one share genetic material with the kids one raises or whether he can/should just adopt instead, but it clearly is treated as important in our society.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:08 PM
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400

Mostly because the bio-mother knows more than the court does about the parties involved and is in a better position to imagine what will happen going forward if the kid is placed with bio-dad.

She may know more than the court, but who says she knows more than bio-dad?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:14 PM
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394: Yeah, I'm not really comfortable making the mother the sole arbiter of these things. There are moms who make such decisions based on spite and vindictiveness rather than the best interests of the child.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:14 PM
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402

Particularly for someone who really doesn't have any skin in the game going forward, like a bio-mom in the process of terminating her own parental rights.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:17 PM
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403

392.2: Mom made a decision to carry the pregnancy to term and has spent the last several months doing so. That, to me, is a more significant biological connection than having had sex with mom. I don't think wanting to place the kid for adoption is exactly equivalent to "doesn't want to be responsible for it"; it is (or should be) a responsible decision to place the child in what you expect to be a better environment. In many circumstances, I'm going to think mom is an asshole if bio-dad wants to raise the kid and she chooses adoption instead, but allowing bio-dad to litigate the issue changes the relationship dynamics and power positions in a way that I think probably does more harm than good.

Look, I know this is something of a dick move, but how would you have felt if your wife had unilaterally decided to put your kid up for adoption immediately after (he/she, I can't remember, and also can't remember if you adopted, so apologies in advance) was born?

That would suck, but there are versions of that hypothetical in which I'd think it better to suck it up and move on than to litigate.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:19 PM
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404

Analogy ban and all, but this is eerily reminiscent of the "do you trust women?" argument re: abortion, only with some people taking different sides of the argument.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:21 PM
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405

allowing bio-dad to litigate the issue changes the relationship dynamics and power positions in a way that I think probably does more harm than good

I'm not even starting to get your reasoning here. The choices are (a) kid goes to adoptive home or (b) kid goes with dad. Dad has not been found to be an unfit parent, and is willing to step up to the plate. Mom makes a unilateral decision to send kid to adoptive home. What exactly is the problem with giving Dad the right to litigate here?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:23 PM
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406

I mean, the reasoning you gave was this

Mostly because the bio-mother knows more than the court does about the parties involved and is in a better position to imagine what will happen going forward if the kid is placed with bio-dad. If all bio-dad has going for him is ejaculation, all he's losing if the kid is adopted is a might-have-been, and I don't think protecting that is worth three years of litigation.

which basically just says you think the Mom's judgment automatically and clearly trumps the Dad's because . . .?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:27 PM
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That, to me, is a more significant biological connection than having had sex with mom.

More significant, I'd give you, but only as a tiebreaker -- genetic relationship is the same. But 'wants to parent this baby' and 'doesn't want to parent this baby' are very different social/emotional relationships, and under these circumstances, the father's social/emotional relationship relationship with the baby is vastly more significant than the mother's. I think the social/emotional factor has to be considered, and is more significant than the past extra biological connection.

(I could see a hairtrigger process for the mother to appeal to the government to terminate the father's rights in favor of adoptive parents, if she knew that he was dangerous or unfit, if that's the sort of thing you're worried about. But not being able to do it unilaterally.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:28 PM
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405, 406: And the 'right to litigate' is even a weird way to put it. I'd think the right answer would be that the father would have the right to take his kid home with him, given that the mother was relinquishing her parental rights, and anyone who thought that shouldn't happen and had standing would have the right to litigate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:30 PM
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(I could see a hairtrigger process for the mother to appeal to the government to terminate the father's rights in favor of adoptive parents, if she knew that he was dangerous or unfit, if that's the sort of thing you're worried about. But not being able to do it unilaterally.)

I'm presuming this is a hairtrigger process that you'd want to be gender neutral, if you were implementing it?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:31 PM
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405: Terminating parental rights is a high standard, right? So suppose, for example, that bio-dad is an abusive, controlling asshole with whom mom has had a stormy relationship. He wants her back, she doesn't want to go. Now she's pregnant and doesn't want to raise the kid, but she doesn't think bio-dad would be a good father and she's afraid that he'd use custody of the kid as leverage over her.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:34 PM
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I suppose -- hadn't thought of it. But having either biological parent rat the other out as an unfit parent at birth be a trigger for a quick review of parenting fitness seems reasonable. I was mostly trying to get into NPH's head and figure out what he was worried about, and was coming up with "OMG, they can't let Cletus have the baby, he'll feed it to the pit-bulls!" That sort of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:35 PM
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OK, I finally went back and read Silvana/LeBlanc's post, and found it a little bit hyperbolic, but basically right on. This part -- the advice she would actually give -- was absolutely great.

You have an opportunity here. A great opportunity. Kids flourish the more loving, stable adults they have in their lives. Don't exclude your friend from your kid's life. Your son may end up benefiting in untold ways from having his biological father around--ways you can't even imagine. You don't know what could happen down the line. You and your husband could divorce. He could die. He could have a falling out with your son for whatever reason. You need to provide your son with all the love he can get. And he is already getting a ton from you, and from your husband. I suspect that his biological father will have some to give as well. This could provide some love security. And your son, like everyone else, needs back-up. Here's what you should do. Bring your friend around. Have him be involved. You can call him "Uncle" Steve or whatever. Tell Uncle Steve you want him to spend time with the kid. As your kid gets older, you can explain to him what's really going on. That parenthood isn't just about biology. I am sure your son will learn about these things, because he will have a friend who is adopted, or a friend who has a stepparent, or a friend with two mommies. And, depending on his development, when he is five or six or seven, you can can explain that there are different kinds of dads, and Dad is the person who has chosen to raise you and live with you and me. Uncle Steve is the person who is related to you by biology. We all love you and we will all be a part of your life.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:35 PM
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407, 408: See 410.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:36 PM
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but she doesn't think bio-dad would be a good father and she's afraid that he'd use custody of the kid as leverage over her.

So she leaves the state. She wasn't going to parent the kid anyway, and the fact that she had a bad relationship with the father doesn't mean that he's necessarily going to have a bad relationship with his kid. If the abuse was the sort of thing where it really would be reasonable to assume that he's not safe to leave a kid with, rat him out to CPS.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:37 PM
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That second paragraph should be in blockquotes.

And, 410, stereotype much? I mean, the Mom could also be a psychopath who hates the dad for no good reason and wants to make sure that her kid gets raised by someone else. Honestly, your argument here seems to basically just be grounded on some inherent belief that mothers are better and have more rights than fathers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:38 PM
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410: And really, between a woman who doesn't want to parent a child and a man who does, why are you betting so strongly on his being a bad parent and against her being a bad decisionmaker? Either's possible, but I'm not getting your source for the odds.

There's a lot of male assholes out there, just like there are a lot of female assholes. I'd tend to take the volunteering for a couple years of solo diaper-changing as at least some evidence against assholedom.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:40 PM
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LeBlanc/Silvana's advice was ridiculously better than the Slate columnist. Sure, there could be extenuating circumstances, but if you're writing a fucking advice column Silvana is doing a way better job.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:51 PM
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That paragraph is nice, if everyone involved can handle it. I still think Silvana's dead wrong to assume that the parents are presumptively jerks if they can't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 8:54 PM
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"Presumptively jerks" is strong, and I'm sure I could be told a story in which I'd agree that something like that paragraph wasn't a good idea. But I'd be pretty comfortable saying that, in most circumstances, the party who is preventing a situation like Silvana's advice from coming true probably needs to get over themselves -- whether it's biodad being a jerk, or the couple unable to overcome their problem with the affair. At the very least, what Silvana describes should be the goal.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:00 PM
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415.2: No, actually. Not stereotyping at all, just pointing out that there's an equal and opposite hypothetical to "dad is a decent guy who wants kid and mom is horrible and vindictive". Most actual cases will be somewhere in between.

I don't think either you or LB is getting how much of my position is based on skepticism about courts' ability to make things better. Life deals up lots of bad shit. Courts' efforts to reduce or re-allocate bad shit are frequently unsuccessful or counterproductive. I don't think potential unfairness to our hypothetical bio-dad is a big enough problem to justify the risks and harms of judicial intervention.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:02 PM
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Bring your friend around. Have him be involved. You can call him "Uncle" Steve or whatever. Tell Uncle Steve you want him to spend time with the kid.

Isn't there an entire sub-genre of southern Gothic literature devoted to this theme? From what I've read, these "your dad's your uncle/your uncle's your dad" scenarios almost never end well.

I think M. Leblanc is wrong to assume that a 3-year old child will value parental honesty over parental consistency. Sorry, but I'm just not seeing it.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:04 PM
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I don't think either you or LB is getting how much of my position is based on skepticism about courts' ability to make things better.

I'm as skeptical as could be about courts' ability to make things better. But there's a court in this situation already, handing the baby over to the adoptive parents at the mother's behest. Making the rule that the baby has to go to a DNA-determined father who wants custody, assuming he's not shown to be unfit, instead of adoptive parents doesn't increase the amount of litigation at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:06 PM
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I think M. Leblanc is wrong to assume that a 3-year old child will value parental honesty over parental consistency.

Where does she say that? She says to wait until the kid is old enough to tell them the details ("depending on his development"), but to introduce the relationship now.

And I see your Southern Gothic literature and raise you

That parenthood isn't just about biology. I am sure your son will learn about these things, because he will have a friend who is adopted, or a friend who has a stepparent, or a friend with two mommies.

Suppressing the truth in the name of sexual anxiety about the marriage (understandable, but that's what we're talking about) strikes me as more likely to lead to a Southern Gothic scenario. But what do I know.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:10 PM
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422: I don't buy that at all. Consensual adoption is equivalent to contested litigation?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:11 PM
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424: If the father's allowed to take the kid home when the mother relinquishes her parental rights, where's the litigation?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:13 PM
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Litigation isn't great, but it's what we do when there are a bunch of contested rights. Would this issue get litigated in most cases? Probably not. But, yeah, if the choice is non-consensual adoption or the right to go to Court, I choose going to Court.

I'm skeptical of the ability of courts to solve social problems. But I hate the idea that when people actually need access to the law to resolve disputes we should avoid it because that's "too much litigation." Oh waaaah defense lawyers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:13 PM
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And looping back to 404, the positions I'm taking in this thread are very much an outgrowth of thinking through why a prospective father ought not have the right to veto an abortion.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:14 PM
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422: Right. Seems to me, in that situation the mom is the one bringing the court into the picture by asking the court to keep the child from dad.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:14 PM
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Seriously, who brings the suit? The mother? I don't see why she'd have standing to terminate the father's rights. The prospective adoptive parents? Again, I'm not seeing their standing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:16 PM
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386

I'm curious if those for whom mere ejaculation is not enough to justify visitation rights also think it's not enough to justify compelling financial support.

I think they go together. Personally I don't think an unmarried father should have any legal obligation to support the child. But if you are going impose the same parental obligations on unmarried men as on married men then they should also receive the same parental rights.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:17 PM
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I think what NPH is saying is that if the Mom unilaterally goes through a consensual adoption procedure, and the Dad decides he doesn't want that, then BOOM OH SHIT NOT A LAWSUIT there's a lawsuit in which the Dad asserts and proves his parental rights (remember, the Dad's rights aren't automatic, he has to express a desire and ability to raise a kid.

To which I say, so fucking what. That's not having the Court set social policy; that's entitling a Dad to assert a pretty important right. In most cases, of course, this would get resolved outside the litigation process, in the shadow of the underlying legal rule.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:19 PM
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429: Wasn't there litigation in 371, and isn't that basically the situation under discussion? I haven't read the case, but litigation surely doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility here.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:20 PM
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Oh waaaah defense lawyers

We get paid by the hour, sweetheart. For defense lawyers, there's no such thing as too much litigation.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:21 PM
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431: I suppose there is a timing problem -- I'd think you'd want to craft a regime to allow adoption in the absence of an identified father, without worrying about leaving all such adoptions open indefinitely. But that seems soluble.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:21 PM
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425: Over whether the father's unfit. I'm assuming that in at least some of these cases the mother has some reason besides vindictiveness for not wanting to give him the kid. And, for that matter, there would be some cases in which mom's preferences are adoption/retain custody/give father custody in that order, so you'd also end up with some custody/visitation fights.

426.last: That's a lot more compelling when maintaining the status quo is consistently unfair in the same direction than when the shit is distributed more randomly. Given a hypothetical pregnancy resulting from a one-night stand, mom wanting to place kid for adoption and dad wanting custody, and no other information, I don't see any reason to think the odds of which approach is better for the child are anything other than 50-50.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:22 PM
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433 -- Right! So why the endless whining about "this would create a groundswell of litigation" or whatever? Not only is this a meaningless phrase (if there's an important right to be vindicated, that needs the legal system for vindication, a groundswell of litigation is a very good thing; if not, not), but a groundswell of litigation benefits you!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:23 PM
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432: Well, there was litigation there because the mother was able to unilaterally go through with the adoption in the absence of consent from the father. If the adoption couldn't go forward over the objections of a not-unfit father seeking custody, then the adoptive parents aren't ever in the picture to litigate against.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:24 PM
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Over whether the father's unfit. I'm assuming that in at least some of these cases the mother has some reason besides vindictiveness for not wanting to give him the kid.

So, make it CPS's problem -- they check out the mother's allegations against the father while the baby's in a short-term foster home. If they don't check out, the father keeps the baby, if they do, the adoption goes forward. That doesn't seem all that onerous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:27 PM
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438: So now we're trusting CPS over mom. I'd rather have the courts.

What interest of bio-dad's is it that we're protecting here? How is it that sex + someone else's decision to carry a pregnancy to term = I have rights over this kid?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:31 PM
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Right. Mom may genuinely believe Dad is unfit -- that doesn't mean she's objective or right.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:31 PM
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Well, in fairness, with 438, even there, you would probably get some increased litigation over the CPS determinations, which would ultimately be reviewed by a Court; the CPS system might end up looking a lot like litigation itself. Certainly you'd get more litigation than you would get than with NPH's proposed "the mother does whatever she wants, and tough shit for the father" rule.

But the problem with the NPH rule is that it's a bad and unfair rule, in a situation where there are important rights and interests at stake. A legal rule that says that a father can have rights, barring a determination of unfitness, and assuming a willingness to assert them, is a better rule because it's a better rule that creates better outcomes, most of which will occur outside of the court system; certainly "oh noes this could lead to litigation" isn't a sufficient argument against it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:34 PM
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What interest of bio-dad's is it that we're protecting here?

He's the baby's father. People care about their children. Even when they're just born, and they haven't built up a long relationship with them yet. They love them and want to protect them and take care of them and watch them grow up. I'm pretty resistant to Darwinian explanations for behavior, but wanting to care for your genetic offspring is a primal drive for lots of people.

I can see wanting to override this interest, but not recognizing it is bizarre.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:35 PM
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442: There's nothing unusual about a male's abandoning his genetic offspring. We're not talking happy families and planned pregnancies here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:41 PM
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This is a case where the man is specifically saying he does not want to abandon his genetic offspring, in order to have a happy family -- and, frankly, there's a whole lot of dickishness built into your apparent assumption that this is impossible. I also don't really see what planned pregnancy has to do with it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:43 PM
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There's nothing unusual about a male's abandoning his genetic offspring.

Or a female, which is what the bio-mom in this situation is planning to do. (Oh, abandoning it in a safe situation, but she's walking away from it.)

Just because a man's walking away from his genetic offspring isn't particularly unusual, doesn't mean that the vast majority of men don't feel strongly bonded to and responsible for their kids. Most men do stay with and parent their kids, and not because their arms are being twisted, they feel a strong interest in doing so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:44 PM
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NPH: a sincere question: how long do you think a man should have to actively build a relationship with his child before that relationship becomes unseverable without his consent? I.e., you're focused on "mere" sex + someone else's decision to carry a pregnancy to term--in your view, when do the father's rights vest? Two years? Six months? Two weeks? 48 hours? (Presumably you don't think a father must spend 18 years with his legal rights dependent totally on the mother--or do you?)

Most people here think they vest at birth, I'm pretty sure.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 9:58 PM
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Isn't there an entire sub-genre of southern Gothic literature devoted to this theme? From what I've read, these "your dad's your uncle/your uncle's your dad" scenarios almost never end well.

I watched Ju Dou last night. I think the conclusion is that such scenarios lead to the world's creepiest kids.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:15 PM
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I return to the thread to find that it's even more crazy-making than when I left. I won't bother to add anything except that I remain in agreement with NPH (427 in particular is key).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:20 PM
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I don't see the connection with abortion at all. That a man doesn't have a right to prevent a woman from terminating her pregnancy because he impregnated her, seems completely distinct from whether he has a presumptive right to parent a child he's the father of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 10:24 PM
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Agreed on the abortion analogy not making sense here. With abortion there is no kid whose interests need to be considered. There are also no equivalents to split custody, it's an either/or thing. If there's a conflict on whether to bring a pregnancy to term, somebody has to decide, and in the end the woman's stake in the matter is more important than the man's. That sort of sucks for the guy, but that's biology for you. On the other hand the view I've occasionally seen that it's wrong for a man to disagree with a woman's choice and express that disagreement seems absurd to me. If you're making a decision that will have a major impact on somebody else, they'll have an opinion about it. Deal.

On the giving up for adoption at birth thing, again IANAL, but I see no reason why the mother's views should trump the father's here. Even in the case in question, I think that the bio-father should have the legal right to be involved in his kid's life as corollary to having legal obligations. But that doesn't mean that if the parents don't want it that this would be good for the kid.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 11:48 PM
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I'd just like to revert to the OT at this point and note that we called my evil step-dad's (probably eviller) dad "Colonel-Sir-Grand-Bear" or "Colonel Sir" for short. Fo reals. his mom was "Peccary" due to her hoarding instincts. My great grandmother and great-great were known as "Kie-eye" and "Wawa" respectively, ranking pretty high in the WASPy nicknames, I'll aver.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 11:50 PM
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LeBlanc/Silvana's advice was ridiculously better than the Slate columnist. Sure, there could be extenuating circumstances, but if you're writing a fucking advice column Silvana is doing a way better job.

Why? Again, the kid has two apparently loving parents in a stable relationship. How to deal with the bio-father is not an easy question. The Slate columnist recognized that, Silvana didn't. But what really bugged me about Silvana were her views in the comments where she seemed to hold the opinion that if the husband were to find it upsetting to deal with his wife's ex adulterous lover on a regular basis that would be 'irrational' and make him a bad person. I completely disagree, there is nothing 'rational' or 'right' about either being upset or not, and thinking there is shows a complete lack of understanding of what cheating means to folks who are monogamous.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 11:58 PM
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444: You know, I really don't think the dickishness in this conversation has been on my side. I've tried to be clear about what I think and why, I haven't attacked you personally, and you've consistently personalized it and responded to generalizations I haven't made. To try again to be clear: you seem assuming that all genetic fathers who assert a desire to raise their genetic offspring are decent and sincere. I'm disputing that that's a valid assumption. I'm not asserting that no genetic fathers who assert a desire to raise their genetic offspring are decent and sincere. And I'm most emphatically not asserting anything about you or your kids or your relationship with your kids. I don't think the discussion we're having here has anything to do with any participant or their family.

446.1: I don't have a thought-out answer to that, particularly if you're asking, as I think you are, what ought to be legally enforceable. All I'm asserting here is that biology by itself isn't enough.

449: Let me try a completely different hypothetical that occurred to me on the way home. Suppose my son has a girlfriend, she gets pregnant while they're still in school (high school, college, whatever), and she does not choose to abort. Suppose that my son is willing to raise the child and, with our help, can provide a good and loving home. Suppose that the girlfriend is not so lucky and isn't a position to take responsibility for the child without real hardship. But suppose, also, that she thinks it would be too difficult to see the child from time to time if she wasn't performing the duties of a mother as she understood them, and rather than face that she'd drop out of school, get a job, and make the best of it if adoption wasn't an option. At that point I'd have a lot to say to both of them, but if nobody budged I think I'd end up counseling my son that he needed to let her make the decision and support her in it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 12:01 AM
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247: my parents divorced when I was five, and then married other people when I was 8, so I grew up with four sets of grandparents:

In retrospect a missed opportunity to make everyone's role clear by using Bio-Granny/Bio-Gramps or other variants (Bio-Bubbe gas a nice ring to it for instance).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 1:19 AM
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I believe that the approved French solution to the problem is for both men (the husband and the lover), after an initial period of arguing and conflict, to decide that neither of them really likes the mother that much, kick her out jointly, and settle down to raise the kid together while running a restaurant.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 2:05 AM
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A recent case that illustrates the dilemma (from The Agitator - see this comment for more details from the father's lawyer). Short summary: kid is born in Virginia, where both bio-parents are residents. Bio-dad is blocked from seeing bio-mom in the hospital, but listed as father on the birth certificate by bio-mom, who also asked adoption agency to get in touch with him (they didn't). He files for custody in Virginia 8 days after birth (and 5 days before the adoptive parents file paperwork in Utah). He is found to be a fit parent and is awarded custody by a Virginia court. Utah court sides with the adoptive parents and the adoption agency (both based in Utah), saying that bio-dad didn't register as the father in Utah fast enough to protect his rights. The Utah Court of Appeals was supposed to hear arguments in the case on May 24th.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:02 AM
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And the element being left out of all this adoption discussion (well, besides that there are laws in place that typically do indeed let dads take precedence over legal strangers or more distant relatives, though they're not strong in states like Utah) is that the adoption industry in the US is huge and extrenely poorly regulatrd. I had just assumed the woman in the case Dave cites above had actually given birth in Utah, which is a popular location for adoption agency-run maternity homes and the like specifically because the laws of the state are more adoptive parent-friendly than the ones of her home state. This is not an aberration, nor is coercion like hooking her up with prenatal care and then telling her that if she doesn't place her baby she'll have basically stolen that money and therefore morality demands that she give over the child, despite what the law has to say about pre-birth matching and the time parents get to change their minds about filing to have their own rights terminated.

Maybe where this gets close to abortion debate is the general idea that once a baby shows up, the dad doesn't get to just say that he wanted an abortion and therefore he's not wanting to pay child support. In the case where the mother wants an adoption and the father wants to parent, maybe it is best to let the mother sign away her rights and let the father raise the kid alone (and I'm definitely on the side if privileging him over the prospective adoptive parents) but then is that creating a precedent for more parents to disavow their children? I guess I just don't worry about that question much, or don't think it's a useful reason to avoid the rest of the conversation, but to me that's an obvious reason it's giving people flashbacks to prior debates.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 5:17 AM
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449: Still not feeling it. The girl you describe is in an emotionally difficult position, and her life would be easier if she could sever your son's relationship with your grandchild. But "Allowing my chi;ld's father, rather than adoptive parents, to raise it would make me feel so guilty that I'd make bad life choices," seems like something that, while I can sympathize with it, she's got a certain responsibility to deal with, rather than acting as if your son had no interest at all in being able to raise his child.

457: In the case where the mother wants an adoption and the father wants to parent, maybe it is best to let the mother sign away her rights and let the father raise the kid alone (and I'm definitely on the side if privileging him over the prospective adoptive parents) but then is that creating a precedent for more parents to disavow their children?

Sign away her rights, or disavow her child, is a little weird to me. I'd leave her in the same legal position as an unmarried father without custody.

(And yeah, this is another federalism problem -- it's hard to make law reasonable if whoever has physical control of the child can run for their favored state.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 6:02 AM
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I actually agree with you about how thins should work, LB. I also wanted to add that one of the reasons I have a kneejerk response to the "biomom knows best about her partner and her child!" is that that's exactly what ends up disenfranchising lesbian non-biomoms who created intentional families that didn't work out as intact families. I'm also fairly involved in communities that discuss adoption ethics and best practices, and that leaves me wanting to see more rights and resources for bioparents.

Re: signing away parental rights, that's actually part of the reason we're heading out to see my partner's bio-half-sister. Her daughter went into foster care briefly years ago but it was a bad experience for the family. She was advised by her lawyer that the state would push for termination and that she should instead give guardianship to someone else. So she and her ex did that, signed the child over to her mom under the assumption that she'd have access to the girl. Except once you sign away permanent guardianship there, even though your parental rights have not been terminated you have no grounds to appeal the guardianship. So now even though she's completely stable, her daughter is now being raised by her mom, who's doing some unsafe and unwise things. We're going to try to get her hooked up with someone who can help her regain custody, but haven't been having much luck from afar.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 6:21 AM
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457

... In the case where the mother wants an adoption and the father wants to parent, maybe it is best to let the mother sign away her rights and let the father raise the kid alone ...

Why should the mother get out of paying child support? The father doesn't when the situation is reversed.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 6:53 AM
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453

449: Let me try a completely different hypothetical that occurred to me on the way home. Suppose my son has a girlfriend, she gets pregnant while they're still in school (high school, college, whatever), and she does not choose to abort. Suppose that my son is willing to raise the child and, with our help, can provide a good and loving home. Suppose that the girlfriend is not so lucky and isn't a position to take responsibility for the child without real hardship. But suppose, also, that she thinks it would be too difficult to see the child from time to time if she wasn't performing the duties of a mother as she understood them, and rather than face that she'd drop out of school, get a job, and make the best of it if adoption wasn't an option. At that point I'd have a lot to say to both of them, but if nobody budged I think I'd end up counseling my son that he needed to let her make the decision and support her in it.

Support her in dropping out and raising the kid by herself? This example makes no sense to me.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 6:55 AM
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I haven't read the thread, but the 1980s YA novel No More Saturday Nights seems apropos.

I miss Norma Klein. Nobody these days is writing young adult fiction with anywhere near the unpretentious, matter-of-fact, young people-are-human approach that she took.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 7:01 AM
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412. You left out the fucking bluebirds in that touching narrative. And the fluffy pink clouds.

I don't think anybody here is arguing that the biological father necessarily has no rights in this situation; rather that those rights are subordinate to the best outcome for the child. This seems to me to be very important. A lot of the lawyers in this thread not merely seem to be doing "neurosurgery with a chainsaw" but arguing that a chainsaw is the instrument of choice for neurosurgery.

AFAICS the biological father in this case hasn't made any push to establish his relationship with the child until the child is quite old, and in an established family situation. Robert and others seem to be arguing that it is desirable to disrupt that established family situation in the interests of the bio-father regardless of the interests of the child (except for some complete speculation by Silvana).

I can't buy this at any level. I agree that the bio-father has rights. Those rights can be ethically exercised at two points: either at birth, at which point, if he represents himself as wanting to participate in raising the child, the other parties should seek a way for him to do so; or once the child is old enough to decide for herself whether she wants this person in her life.

For the bio-father to suddenly be introduced into the child's life at any other point is acceptable only if the two effective parents are sufficiently confident that this won't adversely affect the child. And this includes adversely affecting their own relationship, which is the most important part of the child's environment. If they are not sufficiently confident, then, yes, tough shit for the bio-father. He missed his chance, made a bad call, whatever. Come back when the kid's 18.

If I'd been told at the age of seven that I had to spend time with some guy I hardly knew just because, I would have been very unhappy. It would have adversely affected my socialisation and my education, which were bound up in my image of my family. And fuck anybody who think their 'rights' trump that.

I think M. Leblanc is wrong to assume that a 3-year old child will value parental honesty over parental consistency. Sorry, but I'm just not seeing it.

That's more like it. Not a lawyer, are you, MC?


Posted by: chris y (OFE) | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 7:12 AM
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462: Today's answer to that is The First Part Last, which is interesting enough to be not bad although it's also not Normal Klein.

James, I'd prefer that the mother pay child support and get visitation if she wants it, exactly as you suggest. I was trying to tease out what middle road would be preferred by the people who think the biomom's preference not to raise the child should get priority, but I don't want to defend that argument because it's not one I support. In all of this, I am not and do not want to be a lawyer, but I do keep an eye on how the law shakes out in cases like these.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 7:13 AM
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463: This all looks right to me -- while I've been arguing that biological fathers should have rights at birth, for someone who hasn't been involved all along, I agree that legal decisions should be in the hands of the parents who are responsible for raising the child, and that morally they're allowed to weigh their own interests as part of the best interests of the child. That last bit is where I split off from Silvana.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 7:35 AM
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461: I think you misread -- he meant support her in giving the kid up for adoption, so as to prevent her from feeling so guilty about the kid's father having custody that she'd drop out of school and raise the kid herself instead. I don't agree, but it's not quite as silly as you thought.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 7:36 AM
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449: well it's not perfectly parallel, of course, and I wasn't even trying to draw an analogy in the analogy-as-logical-argument sense of it. I was just struck by how the actual arguments being made on each side in the two debates were so similar*. The contexts are completely different, and in my view the arguments on one side are more compelling in one context, and the counterarguments less. Again, I wasn't trying to convince anyone of anything with the comparison. But, that said, 427 doesn't surprise me.

*Not the abortion debate writ large, obviously, in which dozens of different arguments get tossed around, but just the narrow "do you trust women?" argument, commonly attributed to Bitch, though I don't think it really originated with her, entirely.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 8:06 AM
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That's more like it. Not a lawyer, are you, MC?

Oh, I get it -- because lawyers are monsters with nor moral compass, right? Yeah, that never gets old.

As far as I can tell, none of the lawyers here were arguing for the bio-dad in Silvana's post to have rights after willingly abdicating them for three years. And, for my part, my instinct that a bio-dad should -- if, as you say, he makes this choice at the moment of birth -- have some right to a role in his child's life is informed far more by my role as a biological parent than my role as a lawyer. I suspect this is equally so for the other lawyers who've weighed in -- on both sides of the issue.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 8:30 AM
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Oh, I get it -- because lawyers are monsters with nor moral compass, right?

And paralegals are hobgoblins.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 8:36 AM
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Just to be clear, I was saying I'm not a lawyer because I'm not, not because I think it gives me any sort of moral high ground. I was just ignoring Shearer's obvious nonsense as obvious nonsense, but I don't want to give any impression I was condoning it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 8:42 AM
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Oh, I get it -- because lawyers are monsters with nor moral compass, right? Yeah, that never gets old.

Not at all. But lawyers are (rightly) trained to think in terms of legal outcomes, and when faced with bad law (which most family law is, the world over), tend to look for the least bad legal outcome rather than the one which doesn't involve legal considerations at all. This is, in many cases, a good thing. In this case however, I'd argue that the legal position is irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of the issue, and that it's dangerous to emphasise it too much.

That said Silvana argues, and seems to be supported by Robert, "You have an opportunity here. A great opportunity. Kids flourish the more loving, stable adults they have in their lives. Don't exclude your friend from your kid's life." This isn't about making the choice at birth, it's about disrupting the child's life now. And unless I knew all the people involved very well, I'd strongly argue that it's advice much better not given. Because unless I knew them very well, I'd think it might be profoundly toxic for all concerned.


Posted by: chris y (OFE) | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 8:45 AM
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This isn't about making the choice at birth, it's about disrupting the child's life now.

I think you may have misread many of the comments -- much of the discussion digressed away from those particular factual circumstances and addressed whether, in the abstract, a biological father had (or should have) any rights at all.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 9:31 AM
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I havent read this thread at all, but, instinctively, I agree completely with Di. LB is WAY off.

And, I support Thorn's comments as well. Chris and Moby: What are you thinking!?!?!?

I reserve the right to modify my comments after I read posts above 472.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 9:35 AM
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This is one of the more confusing threads I've read here, in terms of trying to determine what anyone's actual position is. I think it's unfortunate that the real life examples all have to take place in real life, where legal precedent, popular prejudices and oppressive social forms pretty much guarantee that someone is going to walk away broken-hearted and bereft. That's why I thought M. Leblanc's response was so good: instead of making difficult situations tragic via recourse to the adversarial court system, why not try to figure out some ways that people can all acknowledge the difficulties while trying to be humane and loving?

I mean, for any of the solutions proposed, it's easy to think up counter-examples from our own lives where the "fairest" solution across the board would not be the least harmful. And I don't want to seem overly cynical about anyone's motives, but so much of this stuff seems to come back to the rubric under which minor children count as property as much or more than they do as people.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 9:48 AM
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much of the discussion digressed away from those particular factual circumstances and addressed whether, in the abstract, a biological father had (or should have) any rights at all.

Which is why I was specifically addressing Halford, and by extension Silvana, both of whom argued explicitly that the biological father should exercise his rights now.

I think a wise bio-father in this situation would keep quiet and, if possible, move to the other side of the country. But we shouldn't demand wisdom under these circumstances; let's aim for damage limitation.


Posted by: chris y (OFE) | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 9:50 AM
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Chris and Moby: What are you thinking!?!?!?

I was unaware that any part of my comment could be taken for something that involved thought.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 10:08 AM
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I agree that the bio-father has rights.

I don't. In my ideal world, "fathers" as a social construct would not exist. If that is too heteronormative, extend it saying one and only one caregiver has any rights.

Of course, I am not sure about "parental rights" in general.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 10:52 AM
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In my ideal world, "fathers" as a social construct would not exist.

How the fuck has Hallmark not hired you already?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 10:55 AM
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477.last: I've been a little uncomfortable with the emphasis on rights in this thread, but that's partly because I think about these things much more in terms of responsibilities than rights.

The various actors have duties to the child and to each other. That is the correct framing. Putting it in terms of rights just makes it oppositional and invites conflict. Framing it in terms of responsibilities forces people to think in less selfish terms, which in turn leads to better outcomes for everyone.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:02 AM
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478:
There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:04 AM
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Right, illustrated with a Panzer crushing a book of poem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:07 AM
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Maybe more than one poem can fit in a book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:07 AM
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Have I mentioned the ur-tag my friend saw a few months ago? It simply read: "Fuck you dad". That pretty much sums it up for graffiti, eh?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:07 AM
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The line between possessiveness and protectiveness is very fine and very fuzzy, and can get really easily muddled when it comes to parenting. I am finding this particularly challenging as Rory advances toward adolescence and I struggle to balance my maternal instinct to protect her from harm against her ever increasing desire and need for the autonomy to become a confident, independent actor in the world.

This observation is, in fact, relevant to the discussion, but I think it would take too long right now for me to spell out why I think so.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:12 AM
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but I think it would take too long right now for me to spill out why I think so this margin is too narrow to contain it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 11:27 AM
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Maybe more than one poem can fit in a book.

Yes, allow me to suggest one of my own.


Posted by: Opinionated Philip Larkin | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 12:32 PM
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Just wanted to apologize quickly to NPH, who rightly called me out on my tone above. I still don't really like at all his position, and feel strongly about that, but his calling out on the tone was correct.

I wish Will had weighed in more.

I don't really get OFE/Chris Y's objections at all; what I liked about Silvana's post was the recognition that families are complicated and that kids can have different adults involved in their lives; what I don't like about the resistance to that view here is the strongly normative view that the best interest of the child depends on: two people having sex who are one mother and one father and those are the only parents. What I liked about Silvana's post was that I think that, at least aspirationally, you would want the husband and wife to recognize that, while their sexual/marital relationship is important, their kid also has another adult figure who, all things considered, it would be good to have involved in his or her life.

Basically, I don't like (a) pearl clutching about the need to keep children in nuclear families and (b) refusals to recognize that fathers are real parents. Also, neither one of those beliefs is particularly related to the fact that I'm a lawyer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 2:39 PM
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487: Eh, I got a little testy last night too, and I apologize for that. I think we're talking past each other to a considerable degree, and I don't think we're going to fix that now, but FWIW I suspect that most of us who have participated actively in this conversation would give substantially similar advice to participants in a dispute of this sort most of the time. Where we disagree is on the role of laws and courts and on whether fatherhood is pure biology or biology plus something more. On the latter point, I suspect that the strength of your reaction is driven partly by cases in which I'd think that a biology plus test was met, but I will cop to being somewhat radical about the idea that a genetic father is a prospective parent, not an actual one, absent some actual involvement with at least the pregnancy and probably the kid.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 2:57 PM
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what I don't like about the resistance to that view here is the strongly normative view that the best interest of the child depends on: two people having sex who are one mother and one father and those are the only parents.

I think this slightly misapprehends the concern. I think it's very much in the best interests of a child to have a stable family where the people who are actually responsible for the child's care and upbringing are minimally vulnerable to being interfered with by people who don't have that responsibility, except in fairly dire situations. Doesn't particularly matter who the parents are, or how many of them there are, but authority over decisions relating to the kid should be vested in the people doing the parenting, and within reasonable limits the parents should be able to make decisions that serve their own interests as well as the kid's.

A bio-father who's not going to be in a full, joint-custody kind of parenting role, seems to me to be a relationship that the parents who are doing the parenting have the discretionary authority to encourage or discourage, until the kid is old enough to make their own decisions. If everyone gets along well enough that a relationship like that could be a pleasant uncle-ish kind of thing, then that sounds as if it could be positive for everyone. If the adults doing the parenting would find obligatory contact with the bio-father painful or disturbing, on the other hand, I think the best interests of the child are that its actual parents not make themselves miserable, and the actual parents are the ones who get to decide that.

I don't really think a non-parenting biological father (or mother, if a situation worked out that way) has much in the way of moral rights to contact with their kid. The kid has a right to make contact once they're old enough to make that sort of decision, but if you're not doing the parenting (where "doing the parenting" includes non-custodial parents who are nonetheless acting as parents), I don't think you have rights to be considered.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 2:57 PM
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I agree with 489.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:03 PM
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I also agree with 489. My hypothesis:

J.D. + CA


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:05 PM
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Stupid tags won't let me make jokes with 'less than' signs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:08 PM
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< signs are no laughing matter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:09 PM
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Anyway, without an equation, the joke seemed crueler, so I dropped it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:13 PM
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If the adults doing the parenting would find obligatory contact with the bio-father painful or disturbing, on the other hand, I think the best interests of the child are that its actual parents not make themselves miserable

Mmmmaybe. I don't really disagree with that in principle. But I'd probably have a much lower threshold than you do about negatively judging folks who are simply unable to get over the "painful and disturbing" part of an affair. At some point, if there's a biodad who is ready, willing, and able to be involved, and not that much of a jerk, I do think that the couple has something of an obligation to simply chill out about their sexual history in favor of having everyone get along -- particularly since the woman made a decision not only to have the affair, but to have a child who was an offspring of the affair. Yes, this is somewhat dismissive of the absolute grail of sexual exclusivity, but given the circumstances I'd lean heavily towards the side of telling people to chill out, barring particular circumstances.

the actual parents are the ones who get to decide that

The biodad who doesn't want to be involved in his child's life is an easy case -- the "real" parents should get to decide. The parents who are cool with biodad playing a role are also an easy case, since everyone is happy. The hard case is when biodad is ready, willing, and able to play an active role -- that is, to be a "real" parent -- but the existing couple refuses, because of the painful memories of the adulterous relationship or for some other reason. In general, and realizing that there are specific circumstances in which this couldn't work, in the hard case I'd say the married couple has a significant moral obligation to get over their issues with the adultery and allow the biodad a role.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:13 PM
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"equation" s/b "expression"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:13 PM
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Likewise agree with 489, and in that context disagree with Silvana. And for the record, neither of the beliefs in 487.last remotely reflects my own.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:13 PM
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I also agree with 497.last.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:15 PM
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The hard case is when biodad is ready, willing, and able to play an active role -- that is, to be a "real" parent --

On that, I've got two separate thoughts. First, playing an active role (or being ready to play an active role) as a friend-of-the-family-sort-of-uncle doesn't make you a real parent. Parenting involves getting the kid to their afterschool activities three days a week, and getting out of work early to do it; being there to wipe up vomit when the kid's sick; putting away a ridiculous chunk of your income to pay for college; that sort of commitment. If the bio-dad isn't offering that kind of parenting, but would like to be a friendly presence who comes over and plays catch sometimes, that might be nice, but I don't think it's important enough to make the family unhappy over at all.

Second, even if the bio-dad appears after some timelapse, and then is willing to invest the commitment to be a real (albeit non-custodial) parent, one with responsibilities in addition to rights: that's a huge burden for the custodial parents. Joint custody, sharing decision-making authority over your kids with someone you're not closely aligned with and probably don't feel positive about, is hard enough after a divorce when there's no other decent option. When you're talking about introducing an additional parent, with interests and opinions at cross-purposes to the custodial parents, where they don't have a lifelong emotional and parenting relationship with the kid? That seems hard enough that there's a real risk it's going to destabilize the kid's family and hurt the kid. If everyone can work it out consensually and happily, that's great, but if they can't it seems to me that it's in the kid's best interests to make it the custodial parents' call.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:28 PM
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Daddikobe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:36 PM
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Damn you, dead horse! Suffer more!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:36 PM
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KOBE IS THE EVERYDAD!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:36 PM
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CRAP.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:37 PM
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If everyone can work it out consensually and happily

What I'm saying is that the married couple has an obligation to at least try to work it out consensually and happily -- to some extent, it's up to them. People's reaction to adultery isn't some kind of naturally hard-wired response that they have no responsibility for. I think that this was Silvana's point.

If the bio-dad isn't offering that kind of parenting, but would like to be a friendly presence who comes over and plays catch sometimes, that might be nice, but I don't think it's important enough to make the family unhappy over at all..

Again, the point is that it (can be) the couple's responsibility to not be unhappy over this. Or at least to try. Sometimes it won't work.

Joint custody, sharing decision-making authority over your kids with someone you're not closely aligned with and probably don't feel positive about, is hard enough after a divorce when there's no other decent option. When you're talking about introducing an additional parent, with interests and opinions at cross-purposes to the custodial parents, where they don't have a lifelong emotional and parenting relationship with the kid?

It's true that this is hard. On the other hand, (a) it's not like (at least) 1/2 of the married couple didn't play a role in creating the situation and (b) the result of the hard work will be that the kid can have a relationship with his or her biological father. I think they thus have a moral obligation to try and make it work out.

Also note that a kid's age matters pretty significantly for this issue. It's one thing if a kid is 4 -- I think that would weigh heavily towards allowing the biodad a role, since there's still plenty of time to develop the emotional and parenting connection. If the kid is 11, and biodad comes in out of the blue and wants to take over, it's a somewhat different story. Still, though, I think that in most circumstances married mom and dad have an obligation to at least try.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:40 PM
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I think we've gotten to the point where we're not talking past each other, just disagreeing.

Anticomity! Hooray!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:43 PM
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505: I disagree! We're talking past each other about some things and disagreeing about others.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:51 PM
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so much of this stuff seems to come back to the rubric under which minor children count as property as much or more than they do as people

duh.

"But I take such good care of (wife, slaves)! I feed (), provide () shelter, entertainment and fine raiment, struggle to satisfy () every need and desire, why the heck should () want to vote or own property?"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:54 PM
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Oh. Forgot.

"And I only punish () when absolutely necessary, and never enough to cause permanent damage. At least, not the kind society cares to notice."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:56 PM
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I like pie. Cake, I can take or leave, unless it's carrot cake or maybe the really dense chocolate kind.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 3:59 PM
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504: Do you see the never-married/POSSLQ bio-dad as being in a similar moral position to a divorced dad?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:02 PM
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BIOKOBE!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:04 PM
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shit


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:04 PM
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511 is making me feel much better about 502, so thanks, Stormcrow.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:06 PM
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508: What are you doing to Parenthetical, Bob!?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:13 PM
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510: My belief is that the biological father's rights should be the same regardless of his romantic/marital relationship with the mother -- something like, the biological relationship gives him the right to develop an emotional/social parenting relationship with the kid. That right can be waived by not being around or involved from the beginning (with notice issues being sticky, but say that's soluble. It's not going to be a large percentage of cases.) So a POSSLQ/boyfriend/one-night-stand has the right to parent his kid, if he's around from day one being a parent. Once he's abdicated that parenting responsibility, decision making authority and parenting rights vest in the people doing the parenting. (This is in theory gender-symmetrical, there just seem to be many fewer women who abandon their biological kids in a manner that would waive their parenting rights.)

Now, usually presence in the kid's life is going to be closely related to relationship with the mother. But it's not the relationship with the mother that makes someone a father, it's consistently taking parenting responsibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:18 PM
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513: No problem, I did it because I thought you were the front-page poster who could most use some propping up. I'm gratified that it worked.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:18 PM
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515 -- We don't disagree on any of that! (Maybe we'd disagree somewhat on what constitutes a waiver). I had to look up "POSSLQ."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:24 PM
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My husband found out, and we decided to work things out and stay together. Then I found out I was pregnant. As hard as it was to know I was carrying another man's child, my husband stood by me, and he's been an amazing father

This seems like a bad plan on the husband's part. He should have gotten a divorce.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:24 PM
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515, 517: Yay, more dis-comity! To clarify, though, I think it's relationship with kid, not relationship with mother, that creates parental rights. My reference to participating in the pregnancy (or whatever I said) was getting at the thought that maybe that relationship can be formed in utero.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-23-10 4:30 PM
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