A Kansas man is fighting the state's demand that he pay child support to the lesbian couple whose daughter he helped conceive. Furthermore, the couple supports his fight against the state, saying that Kansas has made a huge debacle of the matter and that Kansas's fight against their sperm donor is a step back for progress and equality.
Angela Bauer, 40 years old, and Jennifer Schreiner, 34 years old, have eight children together, many of whom are adopted, ranging in age from 25 years to 3 months. In 2009, they posted a Craigslist ad revealing that they wanted to add a biological child to their brood, NBC News reports. That post connected them with donor William Marotta, who agreed to donate his sperm to them and, per a contract, waive parental and financial responsibility to the child. Marotta has since had no contact with the child, with the exception of occasional emails sent by Bauer. He is not named on the birth certificate and, though Kansas does not recognize same-sex unions, each woman needed to file for adoption as a single parent. However, the state of Kansas argues that, because the transaction was not carried out in by a doctor, the agreement is null and void.
Bauer and Schreiner have since separated, but they continue to co-parent their children. At the time of the transaction, they were financially stable enough for Schreiner to stay at home with their children. Since then, Bauer suffered from what she described as a debilitating illness that has meant that she is unable to work and has been in and out of rehabilitation.
The couple applied for financial assistance to support their family. The state responded by refusing to give further healthcare assistance unless they provided the name of their sperm donor. They reluctantly did so, leading Kansas to pursue Marotta for child support for the couple's three-year-old daughter.
His lawyer argues that this violates the precedent set by a 2007 state court case, according to the Kansas City Star. In that case, a man sought to receive parental rights after donating sperm. He was denied. Hannah Schroller, Marotta's lawyer, argues that the 43-year-old mechanic followed the same steps and should be considered a sperm donor as well.
"This was a wonderful opportunity with a guy with an admirable, giving character who wanted nothing more than to help us have a child," Bauer said to the Topeka Capital-Journal. "I feel like the state of Kansas has made a mess out of the situation...There are not enough words to describe what I feel for William (Marotta) as a person, because he gave us and allowed us to have this gift."