Man Fights For Parental Rights

November 23, 2007

A Topeka man is fighting a legal battle over parental rights, because his babies' mother says he is just the sperm donor.

Instead of enjoying parenthood, he said, he is spending his time trying to change a Kansas law.

Daryl Hendrix said, "All I can do is look forward to the future and holding my children."

Hendrix is a gay man who didn't think he would ever become a father. Then in 2004, the Topeka resident said a longtime female friend named Samantha Harrington approached him and asked if he would father a baby for her through artificial insemination.

realized that now that I'm in my upper 40s that I'm mature and responsible and financially able to support a child," said Hendrix.


So Hendrix said he agreed to the deal. "I thought everything was perfect and I said, 'Do we need anything in writing?" he said. "She said, 'Daryl, we've been friends for 10 years. I'm an attorney. Kansas is an oral agreement state. There will be no problem.' And I took her word for it."


Hendrix provided sperm on two separate occasions. He said the second time resulted in Harrington becoming pregnant with twins.


Hendrix said, "When she found out she was pregnant, she called and said, 'Congratulations Daddy."


The twins were born in May 2005 at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka. Hendrix said when he went to the hospital to see the infants, a boy and a girl, he was turned away.


That's when he learned that Kansas law gives sperm donors no parental rights unless there is a written contract.


The next day, Harrington filed legal documents asking that Hendrix have no parental rights. Hendrix too went to court.


In a 4-2 opinion on Oct. 26, the court said the decision upholding the 1994 law is the first of its kind in the nation because no other state has ruled on a provision requiring a written agreement between mother and donor.


Now Hendrix has gotten some powerful help in his fight to gain parental rights.


Chicago lawyer Jeffrey Leving, who has a national reputation for representing fathers in divorce and custody proceedings, has asked the court for a rehearing, filing an appeal on Hendrix's behalf before the Kansas Supreme Court. He said he will take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.


He said Hendrix is not the only victim here. "The children have lost child support. They have lost the love and affection of their father. And children have a constitutional right to these things," said Leving.


KCTV5 News tried to contact Samantha Harrington. The door of her Topeka law office was locked on Wednesday. When KCTV5's Liana Joyce reached her by telephone, she said she had no comment.


Hendrix hopes his fight will result in a change in Kansas law, as well as in the lives of the twins. "I just want those children to know that I'm their father. I have their birthday cards, their Christmas cards of every holiday, and I've got a stack and they are going to know who I am eventually," he said.


Kansas Supreme Court spokesman Ron Keefover said motions for rehearings are "rarely granted." Parties in a case have 30 days to seek a rehearing after the court's made a ruling. In a conference of the judges, the court decides whether to rehear a case, he said.