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Who Wants to Adopt Their Own Child? No One!

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a blog by Theresa Erickson, Esq.

There are still people out there talking about how Michael Jackson did not adopt his own children born of a surrogate and his (maybe) wife. I am dumbfounded that the legal community has not opened their eyes to the fact that this is not something that is needed when surrogacy is involved in California. I have addressed this issue several times, but I think that it needs one more round.

Like all of us, I've been intently watching the news, yet what amazes me is that lawyers on many news outlets are declaring that Michael “never formally adopted the children.” Therefore, he must not be the father of these children. And, they then ask, “Who are the parents of these children?”

California is one of the only states that permits the intent of the parent(s) to govern parental rights. This means that the intended parent (or intended parents) is listed as the legal parent(s) on the child’s birth certificate, regardless of biological connection, as long as this intent is formalized in an agreement/consent.

So, guess what? Michael is the father – no adoption required in this case regardless of whether he’s the biological father or not (which appears to be the case for all three children). California surrogacy law is very clear as to who is the parent, regardless of biological connection, based upon intent.

We can only guess at the facts in this case, but a birth in California with a surrogate, egg donor, and/or sperm donor, will not affect his rights to these children, or his children’s rights to his estate. The only uncertainty is whether he was married to Ms. Rowe at the time of the birth of the first two children. She may certainly have a claim if she remains on the birth certificate, again even if an egg donor was used.

What people have to remember is that almost all people have the desire to be a parent, and the laws in other states and countries need to catch up with the new world of medicine as it now exists. Couples and individuals should be able to have the families of their dreams without worrying that the state is going to involve itself in a matter that is both personal and private – as long as intent is proven and professionals (both legal and medical) are involved.