Not without my daughter
They met, they fell in love, they rented a U-Haul. It’s the classic lesbian story arc; two law enforcement officers find their soul mate and set out to forge a life together on the sunny Florida coastline. To complete the picture—in what could be considered the ultimate two-mommy move—the couple decide to co-create a child. One woman donates her fertilized egg to be implanted into her infertile partner, who then carries the child to term; and out pops a baby girl with a hyphenated last name. Picture perfect. Except in the end the couple decided to split. Cue the U-Haul.
For a couple years the parents shared custody and rearing duties of their daughter, until one day the birthing mother fled the country without warning or disclosure of her and the child’s whereabouts. In a move that would make Sally Field proud, the egg-donor mother tracked the two down under to Australia. You couldn’t get more dramatic. Once the parties were reunited stateside, a custody battle ensued arguing who was the rightful mother of the child.
According to Florida law, a woman that bears the child is considered the mother, and the circuit judge wrote that he begrudgingly delivered this ruling. But after reviewing the issue, the 5th District Court of Appeals observed that Florida law has not kept up with the times, and that Florida and the US constitution trumps the law, declaring both women entitled to parenting rights.
What’s striking about this story, aside from a clandestine relocation to Australia and child abduction, is the courts willingness to recognize family environments created by same-sex couples exist, and a child should not have to lose one of their parents to an inamicable split. More often than not, a spouse in a same-sex couple with a varying degree, if any, biological connection to their child loses parenting rights.
The appeals court ruling asked the judge to look beyond outmoded ideas of family and to quote the ruling, “focus on the child’s well being.” This decision sets a precedent for Queer parents in America in that it provides credibility to the families they create. Should passions cool and U-Hauls be rented, a Queer parent can breathe a little easier knowing the love they’ve provided is protected in the eyes of American law. Take that Kramer vs. Kramer.