Monday, March 28, 2011

What Do You Think About This?

Children Conceived After Death of Parent Face Uphill Battle for Inheritance Rights

Melissa Amen conceived her 3-year-old daughter, Kayah, seven days after Kayah's father died of cancer.

"It's my miracle," the 28-year-old Nebraska resident told Melissa and her husband, Joshua, struggled for two years to have a child before she conceived through intrauterine insemination. Joshua had stored his sperm in a bank in case treatments for his cancer rendered him sterile. They were planning to raise a family together despite his three-year battle with cancer.

Now Amen faces her own battle: Winning Social Security benefits for Kayah from a federal government that, in essence, doesn't recognize Joshua as the father.

The Social Security Administration denied Melissa's application seeking survivor benefits for Kayah because she was conceived after the death of her father.

Let me be very clear. I feel bad for this woman, as I would anyone who has lost a spouse. One of our blogging friends herself lost her spouse and it is a horror none of us would want to face.

I also understand her wanting to have a child with him. The inability of them to be able to have a child is one of the things she was robbed of by his death from cancer.

With that said, should someone in this circumstance be able to get Social Security benefits for the child?

Is the child, as a biological heir of her father, entitled to his survivor benefits?

Or is this a case of a woman making a decision and now having to live with it, morally and financially?

Does it matter if it were, as some of the cases mentioned, the child of a man killed in combat?

What about a police officer or fireman killed in the line of duty?

What about other benefits?

What do you think about this?


Always On Watch said...

Apparently, the law is quite clear with regard to posthumous conception:

Yet only 11 states recognize the biological relationships of children conceived posthumously: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

That said, I can't imagine that Melissa Amen conceived this child merely to obtain benefits from Social Security.

I guess that I have to say that any woman who decides to pursue conception after the death of her mate should be financially responsible.

I also note how soon after her husband's passing that this woman went in for the artificial insemination. The funeral rites were barely over! Did she know in advance that the Social Security benefits were at risk?

commoncents said...

THANK YOU for posting this! I'm glad I found your page!!

Common Cents

Mustang said...

Should the state or federal government deny survivor’s benefits when a child is born after its father died in a war zone? Suppose the mother was four months pregnant at the time her policeman husband died in the line of duty… So I think there are circumstances that should permit a new born child to receive survivor’s benefits.

But now let’s complicate the issue. Sue lost her husband in the line of duty, either at home or abroad, and she is having an impossible time “letting go.” They promised each other so many things when he was alive. He even deposited his sperm at a medical facility should he die before his wife could become pregnant. And now the widow wants to have his baby … the emotion is completely understandable and people are not always practical in such circumstances. So then … do we punish the child who never knew her father, even if we disagree with the mother’s decision? Did she fully understand the ramifications of her decision to become pregnant? Should the clinic have informed her of the likely consequences of such a decision?

gramma2many said...

The gravy train has to stop someplace. If the child is conceived after the death, I agree with AOW, the mother should be financially responsible. It is a sad state of affairs right now. Everyone thinks they are entitled to something, no matter the circumstances.

~Leslie said...

It is very sad that this woman lost her husband. I can understand the emotions behind the wife wanting to fulfill the dream that she shared with her husband of having a child. And even how quickly she sought provisions to conceive (there is actually a timing issue involved in artifical insemination). After a tragedy, people often are not thinking clearly so I have to wonder why the doctors did not counsel her in this decision and I have to question their willingness to do the procedure due to the circumstances...

With that said, technically, the child is not a survivor of the father because she was not conceived until after his death. Survivor benefits with social security is meant to support minors who were dependent upon the wages of the deceased until they are age 18. This baby was not being provided for by the father and was not left in need after his death.

Unfortunately, the mother did not think this fully through. Now, she made the choice to bring this child into the world and it is her responsibility to care and provide for the child. But there are other social programs she will be able to make use of.

Although it is a sad story, I think we need to be careful and consistent in our thoughts and approach to this matter. Either we believe in personal responsibility or we do not. Either we agree with enabling poor decisions or not.

Chuck said...

AOW, that's kind of where I am. She made a decision.

Mustang, I fully agree that if a woman were already pregnant that would be different. It just seems to make a conscious decision to conceive after entails responsibility

Gramma, agreed

Leslie, I agree on the personal responsibility. Very good point on the physician - they should have counseled her. Finally, as Mustang said, are we punishing the mother or the child? This is an argument often put forth in welfare debates. I don't have an absolute answer.

Z said...

I've got to say I disagree with everyone on this ...he had left his sperm behind, they'd planned on raising a family, she was thrilled she could conceive and carry his child and raise it as a remembrance of him..
I think she deserves the benefits.

I have a friend whose policeman son had sperm frozen because he was so ill with cancer and was facing meds that would kill them off....his wife conceived on the first invitro and he died a month after the baby was born (on my birthday!)...

I really don't see a difference.

MK said...

Seeing as how most governments would be falling over themselves to provide plenty of benefits had the father been a homo or something similar and all the other useless crap governments squander our money on, i don't have a problem with this child receiving the benefits.

Always On Watch said...

Brave new world, huh?

Chuck said...

Z, thanks. I'm still not sure that it's okay but you make good points. I don't think someone is entitled to have a child and I don't think they are entitled to have the child paid for by everyone else.

There is also another issue we haven't talked about, she is intentionally bringing a child into the world without a father to help raise them. I wonder if that is an issue?

MK, good point. Better to this kid than $800 a piece for hammers

AOW, a little scary. A sign of things to come too with technology advancing.

Z said...

What do you mean by "I don't think someone is entitled to have a child?"

By the way, I'm with AOW on her latest comment completely....I disagree with the whole invitro process

and yes, she is bringing a child into the world without a dad and I think that's tough, even wrong, really. Chuck, there is that.

Still...I think she should get those benefits in this case

Always On Watch said...

I keep coming back to the fact that she decided for insemination a mere 7 days after her husband passed away. I'm guessing that she knowingly was trying to deceive the law.

Always On Watch said...

Does that 7 day window matter? Suppose she had waited 2 years. Should Social Security (that would be we the taxpayers) sill pay until that child reaches 18 years of age?

Suppose she had waited even longer? Should Social Security still be on the hook?

Chuck said...

Z, I am obviously pro-life. The point I was making, poorly, is it is not a guarantee in life. Take invitro as an example. People seem to feel as if they have to have a child, at any cost. They will implant 6 - 8 fertilized eggs knowing that most of them will die. This is barbaric.

I can't help but take from this article that these women seem to feel as if they are owed a child by their deceased husband, no matter what. It doesn't matter if the child does not have a father. It doesn't matter if someone else pays for it. It doesn't matter that this could be confusing for the child later.

While I feel genuinely sorry for her loss, not just the loss of her husband but the loss of the ability of having a child with him, having a child by him seems self-serving.

Maybe this sounds mean but there it is.

Chuck said...

AOW, I think it seems a little odd. Good point on the two years, etc. These are issues we will have to decide eventually as a society I believe.

Z said...

Chuck, I'm with you on life and on invitro, as I mentioned earlier...against that totally.

I guess I still feel she did it soon to fill the void, maybe...and as rough as I usually am on situations like this, this one tugged my heartstrings...
maybe because I haven't got over MY void.