Adopting stepchildren: Can children legally have 3 or more parents?

It’s likely they mentioned the arrangement in a early interview before realizing what the result would be. Bureaucracy and honesty or openness often don’t coexist well.

Interesting. I always wondered in the case of private adoptions which (allegedly) can cost tens of thousands of dollars, how it avoids the child trafficking laws. And… where all the money goes. Allegedly for the mother’s “expenses”?

IIRC, the case in Michigan mentioned that the exception for sperm donation only applied if it was done by a licensed physician from a registered medical sperm bank. A turkey baster DIY did not count.

I believe that in most states there are regulations regarding which expenses can be paid and for what period of time they can be paid - for example, in NY only 90 days of living expenses can be paid, in some states only certain specified expenses can be paid ( for example, you can pay rent but you can’t buy her a new car) and in most if not all states, the payments cannot be contingent on consenting to the adoption. IOW if she doesn’t consent, the prospective adoptive parents don’t get the money back - that’s how these arrangements get around being seen as baby-selling.

A lot of the money doesn’t go to the mother though. There are lawyers’ fees, ( possibly including a fee for the mother’s lawyer) , adoption agency fees if an agency is used , home study fees, advertising expenses etc.

Right. And in addition, in most states a mother cannot consent to an adoption until after the child is born. Any contract which said, “In exchange for $Y, I promise to put this child up for adoption if born alive” is null and void, and cannot be the object of recovery under any contract or unjust enrichment theory.

It is sort of a compromise as I remember the Baby X case from the 1980s where a hell of a lot of people thought that the whole idea of surrogacy should be illegal in all of its forms.

I assume you mean “…in exchange for $Y in expenses, …”

Adoption agencies definitely have legitimate expenses. The one we used had maybe half a dozen social workers, plus support staff and a largish office. We paid in the neighborhood of $20,000 and they do about 30 adoptions a year, so I don’t think anyone’s getting rich there. They also paid for the birthmother’s expenses, avoiding the potential ethical pitfalls of having the prospective parents involved in that negotiation.

Having said that, I think there is definitely some unethical stuff with private adoptions facilitated by attorneys (as opposed to agencies). There are some attorneys out there who appear to have a near-miraculous ability to quickly locate babies for anyone willing to pay two or three times as much as a reputable agency would charge.

Unless those multiple people have divergent attitudes about the appropriate welfare of the child and the child is used as a pawn…which is why the legal boundaries exist. As long as everyone is on the same page, there usually is no need to involve the legal system.