Thursday, July 16, 2009

Edvalson v. Dickson: Interesting Double Standards

A Utah case involving a lesbian custody battle for the 2-year old they co-parented is very interesting in terms of its commentary on mother and child's right, and the total lack of any mention of the rights of any possible "father."

In 2006, Jana Dickson gave birth to her son while in a relationship with Gena-Louise Edvalson. The couple resides in Utah, a state that does doe sot allow for same-sex unions and so Edvalson was unable to adopt her partner's son. Instead they drew up an agreement regarding their mutual intent to share parenting of this child they both agree dot have within their relationship.

The relationship ended a year alter and Dickson - the natural mother of the child - legally married a man and proceeded to cut her former partner out of their son's life.

Edvalson sued for parental rights to the child relying upon the apparently unenforceable agreement. The court dismissed the lawsuit, Edvalson v. Dickson, ruling that state public policy designed to protect the best interests of children trumps any such “agreements” that people make, especially when there are no allegations of abuse or neglect.

Interesting though that one can agree to allow a stranger to adopt one's child without any allegations of abuse or neglect.

A Utah court has ruled that a 2-year-old child’s right to his mother outweighs the demands of a woman unrelated to the boy who sought parental rights. Where are the rights of children who are adopted by unrelated strangers as they grow up with no true information?

Dickson, the mother, was represented by Frank D. Mylar of ADF, a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Remember this was all happening in Utah, folks. A bit of homophobia in place here.

Myler said: “A parent’s fundamental right and responsibility to raise and care for her child cannot be bargained away or lost through contract.” Isn't this the very essence of relinquishment?!

Myler also said: “The fundamental rights of parents to raise children the way they see fit should not be threatened by the wishes and desires of a legal stranger. The court correctly ruled that this little boy’s right to his mother under state law is of far greater value than the wishes of someone who has no legal relationship to the child.” Sure wish the ADF would be there in contested adoptions!

But the court ruling could be used in cases of contested adoptions:

The court dismissed the Edvalson v. Dickson lawsuit, ruling that state public policy designed
to protect the best interests of children trumps any such “agreements” that people make, especially when there are no allegations of abuse or neglect.

The Utah Supreme Court has held that contracts that offend public policy are void.... [but surrogacy contracts, which basically sell a human being, are OK, as is the selling of eggs and sperm with accompanying anonymity agreements?] Therefore, while people are generally free to bind themselves to any contract, those contracts which are contrary to public policy are illegal and void,” wrote Third Judicial District Court Judge L.A. Dever in his ruling issued June 30.

This case speaks volumes, albeit silently, about the rights the person totally absent in this case: the sperm donor father. Was their an "agreement" to leave him out? Is this acceptable to the court and public policy? This does not "offend" anyone? Are not the rights of surrogates likewise contracted away? Even in traditional adoption: Is a surrender a contract? Did i not buy signing "agree" to let go of my parental rights ad 'agree" to let someone else parent my child? If so, why am I the signer of such a contractual agreement, disallowed a copy of said contact I signed - even redacted - and even after 42 years. If it is not a contract or agreement, what is it?

Why is it that when the word "adoption" enters into any transaction involving a child, it trumps everything else and makes the perspective adopter appear superior to all laws of human nature and common sense and many rights otherwise upheld and protected?


maybe said...

This could establish an interesting legal precedent that could impact contested adoptions, even adoptions in general (ie. secruing more rights for the natural mother.)

AdoptAuthor said...

That would be my great hope...

Those of us advocating for such a changes can certainly utilize the quotes herein toward that end.

Anonymous said...

Don't know what your agenda is here...although it appears you may be an adult adoptee or birth parent who previously made an adoptive plan for your child....but termination of parental rights & responsibilities (whether voluntary or involuntary) for the purpose of adoption planning is far different than a parent, such as this mother, who chose to enter into an informal agreement to co-parent with another individual who had absolutely no legal rights to this child from the start. Comparing the two issues is comparing like comparing apples to oranges...sorry.

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