Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

3

Parents apart

Who keeps the children?

LESBIAN CUSTODY CASE TESTS PARENTS' RIGHTS

It was a homosexual marriage made in heaven. After 11 years together, Nancy and Michele decided to have children. They found an anonymous sperm donor and in 1980, Nancy had a daughter and four years later a son.

Michele was present at each birth and was registered as the 'father' of the children. But six months after the delivery of their second child, the couple parted and now meet on opposite sides of a courtroom battle that gay activists say could redefine the American notion of parenthood.

(Sam Kiley, Sunday Times 8/7/90)

Nancy obtained a court order forbidding Michele from seeing or communicating with the children. Michele was fighting for access but was told that since lesbian marriages are not recognised she had no claim to the children. The San Francisco National Centre for Legal Studies had taken up her case, arguing that such cases should be resolved in the best interests of the child-that if a bond has developed then the relationship should be allowed to grow. Michele argued that though she is not related biologically,

There is more to being a father or mother than donating sperm or giving up an egg. We tried to show our children that parents can do all kinds of things. I was and am part of my daughter's life.

(Sam Kiley, Sunday Times 8/7/90)

When film director Woody Allen recently lost his custody battle with Mia Farrow, newspapers all over the world reported the judge's list of his deficiencies as a parent:


NOT FIT TO BE A FATHER

'The film-maker never bathed his children, rarely dressed them and didn't even know the names of their pets', said Judge Elliott Wilk in his ruling in New York yesterday. 'His financial contributions to the children's support, his willingness to read to them, to tell them stories, to buy them presents, to

-63-

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Who's Fit to Be a Parent?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parents on Trial 5
  • 1 - The State Versus Parents 7
  • 2 - Other People's Children 38
  • 3 - Parents Apart 63
  • 4 - Playing God 96
  • 5 - Key Themes from Part I 117
  • Part II - Parents on the Edge 129
  • 6 - Disabled Parents 133
  • 7 - Mentally Handicapped Parents 151
  • 8 - Drug Addicted Mothers 168
  • 9 - Gay Parents 177
  • 10 - Teenage Mothers 189
  • 11 - Older Mothers 197
  • 12 - Single Mothers 205
  • 13 - Lone Fathers 217
  • 14 - Working Mothers 225
  • 15 - Black Parents 239
  • 16 - Key Themes from Part II 261
  • Part III - The Job Description 269
  • 17 - The Ideal Model and the Actual Model of Fit Parenting 271
  • 18 - Implications of the Actual Model of Fit Parenting to Assessment 281
  • 19 - Looking Forward 300
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
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