We were fascinated by the article in the New York Times this past weekend about the custody battle between actor Jason Patric and his massage therapist ex (and not just because the notoriously publicity-shy Patric talkied to Katie Couric on national television to get his side of the dispute out there).
Here’s the story, in a nutshell: Patric and Danielle Schreiber dated on and off for a decade, and during that time they talked about starting a family via I.V.F. (he had a surgical procedure to help things along). Then they broke up, but remained friends, and when Schreiber decided she still wanted a kid, Patric offered his sperm. You know, as gentlemen do. Then, duh, like some romantic comedy starring one of the Jennifers (Aniston/Lopez/Garner), they fell back in love once the kid showed up.
So Patric became Dada, yadda yadda. And then — of course — they broke up again. Except now Patric’s “sperm donation” is a four-year-old boy, and Patric considers this boy his son. And he wants shared custody — but she wants a restraining order. In other words, now it’s neither romantic nor comedic.
We do not envy the judge and jury who have to make a call in this case. Based on the information we have in this case, the line between sperm donor and father seems truly blurred. They are both right, and they are both wrong. And then there’s the kid, who is just a four-year-old boy and too young to understand the difference between giving a friend your sperm and giving an on-off lover your sperm. Actually, we’re in our forties and we’re struggling to make sense of it. Clearly the law needs to be clearer on the topic of turkey-based sperm. And, even more clearly, fully grown adults should think twice before donating sperm to, or accepting sperm from, someone with whom their relationship could be described as “complicated.” (Ah, remember early days Facebook?!)
What do you think? Once a sperm donor, always a sperm donor? Or can someone accrue parental rights by maturing from a sperm donor into a Dada?