Do you know the difference between a father and a dad? The folks in the Department of Children and Families in Shawnee County, Kansas clearly don't. The department is going after a man who donated sperm out of the goodness of his heart to a lesbian couple. They expect the sperm donor to pay child support.
Sure, William Marotta is biologically connected to Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner's child. But can anyone really say he's the girl's dad?
In 2009, before agreeing to donate his sperm for free to help the couple he met on Craigslist realize their dreams of becoming parents through pregnancy, Marotta signed an agreement that exempted him from any paternal rights. That means he got no access to the child.
So Marotta wasn't a dad. Not in name, and certainly not in practice. He wasn't the guy changing diapers. He wasn't the guy making bottles. He wasn't the guy playing peek-a-boo.
But giving up on "dadhood" in that contract was also supposed to protect Marotta from claims of paternity, including child support payments.
The problem is, it's not Bauer and Schreiner who are looking for support. It's the state, looking to recoup losses for public assistance paid out to Schreiner. It seems that in the time since their daughter was conceived through artificial insemination and born, the couple has fallen on hard times. Schreiner, the little girl's biological mom, had to file for financial assistance from the State of Kansas.
As a taxpayer, I want to commend them. But as a parent, I just can't. This smacks of punishing a guy for a good deed, and it turns the concept of "parenthood" on its head.
Marotta isn't a guy who had sex with full knowledge that he "may" create a baby that he will have to support whether he's an involved father or not. Those guys still have the opportunity to grow up and decide they want to be actual dads, and their responsibility to pay child support is in their decision to put themselves at risk of becoming fathers.
I mention it because it would be a glaring omission not to, but frankly that's a separate issue entirely.
Here we have a guy who helped a couple out with absolutely no intention of ever being an actual dad. He gets no benefits out of this situation at all; he can't even suddenly decide he wants to play papa. So why should he be punished?
Why should he be treated like a dad when he isn't one, when he really can't be one?
Do you think this guy should have to pay child support here? Is he really a dad?
Image via Valentinapowers/Flickr