Sperm donor William Marotta has been forced to pay child support by the Kansas Department for Children and Families to a lesbian couple who found him via a Craigslist ad which the couple had placed asking for a sperm donor.
Angela Bauer, 40, and her partner Jennifer Schreiner, 34, placed the ad on Craigslist three years ago looking for a donor. William Marotta answered the ad and was selected by the couple as their sperm donor.
Marotta provided his sperm to them which the couple used for artificial insemination on Schreiner. Marotta willingly gave up all parental rights including financial duties for the child upon agreeing to be the couple’s sperm donor, as he did not wish to be the child’s father. He only wanted to help the couple by providing his sperm and nothing more.
When Bauer and Schreiner, the 34-year-old birth mother, reached a deal with Marotta that did not include any payment for his sperm donation, he signed a written agreement that relinquished all parental rights and held him harmless “for any child support payments demanded of him by any other person or entity, public or private … regardless of the circumstances or said demand,” it said.
Recently the Kansas Department for Children and Families ordered Marotta to pay support for the three-year-old girl that was born after Bauer and Schreiner requested welfare earlier this year.
The state is said to have forced the women to reveal Mr Marotta’s identity after pressuring them to reveal who the biological father of the child was. The state declared the contract relinquishing him of financial responsibility void because the insemination was not performed by a certified doctor.
The couple said they tried to protect Marotta’s identity, but Kansas officials told them they would be unable to receive health care for their daughter if they did not reveal the name of the biological father. Feeling pressured and afraid, the couple finally gave Kansas officials Marotta’s name as the biological father to their child. The state then argued in court papers that because the insemination wasn’t performed by a licensed physician, the contract, in which he signed away his parental rights and financial responsibility towards the child, was null and void.
Bauer and Schreiner, who have now separated since this whole ordeal began in 2010, plan to help Marotta fight the state’s decision to force him to pay child support. The couple said they are ‘forever grateful’ for the child he has given their family.
This was a wonderful opportunity with a guy with an admirable, giving character who wanted nothing more than to help us have a child.
Ms Bauer, who is from Topeka, Kansas told cjonline.com ‘We’re kind of at a loss. We are going to support him in whatever action he wants to go forward with.’
This is just one chilling example of how state interference into the private lives of people can have serious damaging consequences. The state basically forced Bauer and Schreiner to divulge information that was assumed to be safe and confidential, by threatening the couple.
But what if the couple did not know the identity of their donor? Would the state have refused medical coverage for their child then? What if they were a heterosexual couple? Would that have made any difference in the state’s decision? I tend to think that it would have been a much different situation had the couple not been a lesbian couple.
Now that Mr Marotta has been forced to pay child support by the state, for a child he had given up all parental rights to, and did not want to be a parent to, it sets a scary precedent for other sperm donors who have donated sperm in good faith and assuming that having an agreement in place that relinquishes them of all parental rights and financial responsibility. Unless the woman sees a licenced physician in order to be artificially inseminated, the donor could now be on the hook for child support should the woman fall on hard times and require support from the state.
What this means is that no man is now safe when donating sperm. Many sperm banks will ship sperm directly to private homes where women take it upon themselves to do at-home insemination. And since no licenced physician is used, the sperm donor could be held financially responsible for the child born of his sperm if the woman, at any time, needs to seek state financial assistance.
Sperm donors who donate through a sperm bank are usually protected by state parenting shield laws. But in less straight-forward cases, such as this one, courts have differed on whether the men should pay up or not.
The child’s birth certificate does not include her biological father’s name, and Marotta has never had any contact with the child. Yet the state has declared him as a father and forced him to pay for the child regardless of the contract he had entered into upon donating his sperm to the couple.
A Massachusetts court ruled, in 2012, that a Nigerian immigrant had to pay child support for twins who were conceived through artificial insemination a year after he and his wife had separated, the Patriot Ledger reported.
In Vermont, according to NBC News, a man who donated sperm to a female friend was ordered to pay child support because he was said to have maintained a relationship with the children born from his sperm.
And in Washington state, the Court of Appeals ruled in 2004 that a sperm donor cannot be required to pay child support, unless he and the mother have signed an explicit contract. And in Texas, an appeals court ruled in favor of a former policeman who had donated sperm to a woman he had previously known. He had been forced to pay thousands of dollars in child support, for twins born from his sperm, until the court finally ruled in his favor.
When the lawsuit had been originally filed in 2008, Mr Marotta was quoted as saying: “I was totally blown away. I was already married and had moved on with my life.”