The Endurance of Biological Connection: Heteronormativity, Same-Sex Parenting and the Lessons of Adoption

37 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2008 Last revised: 24 Oct 2008

See all articles by Annette Ruth Appell

Annette Ruth Appell

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: September 13, 2008

Abstract

This paper traces the intersecting and diverging paths of adoption norms and the legal recognition of same sex parents. It compares adoption law's trajectory from replicating the modern family and erasing biological connection to its current embrace of biology with a similar movement among lesbian and gay families. While many of these postmodern families are replicating modern family forms, they are also heeding lessons learned in adoption about the endurance of biology, acknowledging and even embracing their children's biological families. The paper first reveals the tenacity of biological connection and its deep and wide significance in United States culture, history, and law. The next section explores lesbian and gay families with children, noting ways these families reflect heteronormativity through two, rather than plural, parent families and yet still value and honor biological connections by including reproductive partners, such as sperm donors and surrogates, into their family systems. The article concludes with lessons open-adoption law and practice might offer lesbian and gay families with children, particularly regarding the possible benefits of developing legal schemes regarding these family systems.

Keywords: adoption, children, lesbian, gay, family

Suggested Citation

Appell, Annette Ruth, The Endurance of Biological Connection: Heteronormativity, Same-Sex Parenting and the Lessons of Adoption (September 13, 2008). BYU Journal of Public Law, Vol. 22, 2008; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112284

Annette Ruth Appell (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-7912 (Phone)

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