The case of a California mother pressured to give joint custody of her child to a sperm donor she met online illustrates the legal challenges facing families at the forefront of reproductive technologies.
ABC News reports on the situation faced by Karen B., a Los Angeles writer who met her baby's biological father on Craigslist and proceeded to make the kind of casual parenting agreement common between mothers and known sperm donors.
"After connecting on the Internet, she and the donor, Daniel C., signed a layman's agreement that the child would live with Karen and she would make all parenting decisions," reports ABC News. "He would have some visitation rights."
However, Karen found that Daniel, who is gay, tried to push himself into her and her partner's life as her pregnancy progressed. He told the doctor that he was Karen's husband, and insisted that Karen obtain a passport for the baby so that he could visit Daniel's native Brazil. He sued for joint legal and physical custody when she refused.
"The case also raises questions not only about whether sperm donors have parental rights, but what is best for the child now that reproductive technologies are creating new kinds of families," reports ABC News.
In July, the Superior Court in Santa Monica rejected Daniel's claims under the California Sperm Donor Statute, ruling that even though his name is on the birth certificate, semen used for artificial insemination or vitro fertilization for a woman other than the donor's wife is not legally the natural father.
Karen spent $60,000 in legal fees, and she continues to worry that Daniel could kidnap the baby to Brazil during monthly visits.