Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, February 18, 2005

Parenthood Rights and Obligations

When I wrote in the past about using the marketplace to allocate parenthood rights to children to increase efficiency, a major concern I had was "what if adopting parents mistreat the adopted child?"

It didn't occur to me that adopting parents might literally treat an adopted child as if it were a consumer durable that they could trade in when a newer model came along. But that is exactly what seems to have happened with adopting parents in Ancaster, Ontario.

"They stole my childhood," said Alexandra Austin, who is now a single mother living in Bucharest. "They stole my future. They stole my life."
Austin was nine years old when heart surgeon Joseph Austin and his wife Silvana Marisa Di Giacomo convinced her mother to let them adopt the girl and take her to Canada, her lawsuit claims.

The couple, who at the time lived in Ancaster, Ont., already had four sons but wanted a daughter. All the paperwork was done and the Austins were legally her parents when they decided to send her back to Romania five months later, the suit says.

That was two days after they adopted a baby girl, Austin said at a news conference in Toronto Tuesday.

The adopting parents are now divorced, and neither lives in Canada any longer. The adoptee is nevertheless suing the parents, along with the Ontario and Canadian gubmnts, because when she was returned to Romania, her birth certificate had been changed to indicate she was Canadian, and so she was denied public education in Romania, and her widowed mother of seven could not afford to send her to private school.

Children are not pets you send off to the humane society when you no longer want them. Children are not soft forms of recreational vehicles, even though the model of consumer durables can be used to explain birth rates in many cases.

Parenthood rights to children entail some serious obligations as well. If the adopting parents wanted to send the adoptee back to her birth mother, they surely had an obligation to make major support payments, and I'm not all that keen on even providing for that eventuality.

I hope the statute of limitations does not apply.
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