The Revolution in Parenthood – The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children’s Needs

Institute for American Values 2006
Around the world, the two-person, mother-father model of parenthood is being fundamentally challenged.

In Canada, with virtually no debate, the controversial law that brought about samesex marriage quietly included the provision to erase the term “natural parent” across
the board in federal law, replacing it with the term “legal parent.” With that law, the locus of power in defining who a child’s parents are shifts precipitously from civil
society to the state, with the consequences as yet unknown.

In Spain, after the recent legalization of same-sex marriage the legislature changed the birth certificates for all children in that nation to read “Progenitor A” and
“Progenitor B” instead of “mother” and “father.” With that change, the words “mother” and “father” were struck from the first document issued to every newborn by the
state. Similar proposals have been made in other jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage.

In New Zealand and Australia, influential law commissions have proposed allowing children conceived with use of sperm or egg donors to have three legal parents. Yet
neither group addresses the real possibility that a child’s three legal parents could break up and feud over the child’s best interests.

In the United States, courts often must determine who the legal parents are among the many adults who might be involved in planning, conceiving, birthing, and raising
a child. In a growing practice, judges in several states have seized upon the idea of “psychological” parenthood to award legal parent status to adults who are not related
to children by blood, adoption, or marriage. At times they have done so even over the objection of the child’s biological parent. Also, successes in the same-sex marriage
debate have encouraged group marriage advocates who wish to break open the two-person understanding of marriage and parenthood….
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