Surrogate parenting just got a whole lot more complicated. The state of Kansas is trying to force a man to pay support for a child he fathered through artificial insemination for a lesbian couple. In 2009, William Marotta responded to a Craigslist ad placed by lesbian partners Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner who wanted help having a child they could raise together. Marotta said that the two Topeka, Kansas, women met with him and offered him $50 dollars to donate his sperm to their child-rearing project, but he agreed to provide the service for free.
The three signed a contract specifying that Marotta would have no parental rights and would not be responsible for any child that resulted from his donation. The contract also read that Bauer and Schreiner agreed “to indemnify William and hold him harmless for any child support payments demanded of him by any other person or entity, public or private, including any district attorney's office or other state or county agency, regardless of the circumstances.”
Schreiner ultimately gave birth to a girl through the artificial insemination, but it turned out that the insemination procedure was not performed by a licensed physician. By 2010, the lesbian pair had split up, and while Bauer continued to provide support for the child, when illness reduced her income, Schreiner was forced to turn to the state of Kansas for financial assistance through the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
Because Kansas does not recognize same-sex relationships, Schreiner's application for assistance named her as a single mother. Marotta's attorney, Ben Swinnen, explained that the state would not move ahead with the assistance without the name of the father, and so Schreiner provided state officials with Marotta's name. On October 3 the Department of Children and Families filed a claim against Marotta, charging that as the biological father he was required to provide for Bauer's child. “It came out of the blue,” said Swinnen, adding that Marotta was “absolutely floored.”
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