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Bringing Up Baby: Adoption, Marriage, And The Best Interests Of The Child, Robin Fretwell Wilson, W. Bradford Wilcox Feb 2006

Bringing Up Baby: Adoption, Marriage, And The Best Interests Of The Child, Robin Fretwell Wilson, W. Bradford Wilcox

Faculty Scholarship

In the piece, Professor Brad Wilcox and I ask who should care for children when their biological parents cannot? This is a question of potentially explosive dimensions under new definitions of legal parentage proposed in this volume of the WILLIAM & MARY BILL OF RIGHTS JOURNAL. This question is also important today for evaluating state adoption laws. A significant number of states bar consideration of a prospective adopter’s marital or non-marital status. We believe these laws miss an important opportunity to maximize the best interests of each child being placed. In this piece, we take an exclusively child-centered approach, drawing on an enormous body of social science on family structure and child well-being. We begin with a critical look at the studies showing that children are significantly more likely to thrive if they are raised in a home headed by two married parents. Here, the social science is clear: on average, children do best in a married home, compared to the alternatives, and for this reason adoption laws and regulations should clearly favor married parents. The social science is less clear on the advantage that a single parent might have compared to cohabiting parents; here, we think the science suggests that a single parent might offer more stability and safety to a child than a cohabiting couple. We then propose model legislation to institute these preferences. We endorse a strong preference that gives first consideration to married couples and a weak preference to single parents compared to cohabiting couples. We also consider and reject ...


The Scientific Shortcomings Of Roper V. Simmons, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2006

The Scientific Shortcomings Of Roper V. Simmons, Deborah W. Denno

Faculty Scholarship

This Article contends that some of the case law and social science research that form the basis for the United States Supreme Court's decision in Roper v. Simmons are insufficient and outdated. The Court also relies heavily upon briefs submitted by the respondent and his amici, in lieu of providing more pertinent citations and analysis that could have enhanced and modernized the Court's arguments. The sparse and sometimes archaic sources for Roper potentially limit the opinion's precedential value. For example, the Court cites Erik Erikson's 1968 book, Identity: Youth and Crisis, to support the view that ...