What makes a father? Biology? Intention? Months of changing diapers and singing lullabies?
That is the question raised by the case of little Lincoln Edward Amory Leutner-Sporn -- which is what his mother, LeAnn Leutner, called him in an email blast to friends after she gave birth to him in July of last year.
Six months later she was dead, a suicide. And Dr. Jonathan Sporn, her boyfriend, was left fighting for custody of Lincoln against Leutner’s sister. Sporn was not married to Leutner, not Lincoln’s biological father, not named on the birth certificate, but was in the process of legalizing his role in the baby’s life, he says.
That was not enough to sway a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge, who awarded custody of the boy to his aunt in June.
Little Lincoln has come to stand for the ways in which culture and technology have outpaced the law -- and is a reminder to parents that having a child is a legal decision, and they should keep their paperwork in order.
As Elizabeth Stuart wrote in the Village Voice last week, “the case illustrates a gap between the law and the increasingly dynamic definition of family. Today, the majority of babies are born out of wedlock. As technology improves, and prices for assisted reproductive technology come down, more and more children are welcomed into complex parental situations."