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North Carolina Law Review




Basic biology tells us that each child has no more than two biological parents, one who supplies the egg and one who supplies the sperm. Adoption law in this country has generally followed biology, insisting only two parents be legally recognized for each child. Thus, every adoption begins with loss. Before a child can be adopted, that child must first be cut off from their family of birth, rendering the equation of adoption one of subtraction, not addition. This Article examines the biological model of adoption that insists on mimicking the nuclear family—erasing one set of parents and replacing them with another set of parents, and explores the history of adoption “matching”—requiring the new adoptive family to look identical to a biological family. But changes in family formation, to include same-sex adoption and transracial adoption, make conceivable other departures from biologically justified parenting, including legal recognition of more than two parents. This Article argues that an additive, rather than subtractive, model of adoption should prevail. In light of what we know from psychological literature about the importance of family connections in adoption and based on different adoption structures in France and other parts of the world, the Article also explores some of the trepidation about more than two parents, including the potential for conflict among multiple parents, and suggests solutions to ameliorate some of those concerns. Families that were once inconceivable are now flourishing; legal recognition of more than two parents should follow.

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University of North Carolina School of Law

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