Today, multiple legal theories of parenthood interact to encompass all sorts of families. Adults and children bound through adoption, step-parenting, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) demand familial recognition through some combination of biology, functionality, technology, and intent.
In the context of children born through ART, many scholars have proposed a more robust use of intent as a rule for identifying legal parents. When used to identify parents, intent asks who planned to become the parent of a child, and is often helpful when multiple adults simultaneously agreed to bring a child into the world. For example, in the case of surrogacy, as many as five adults — two intended parents, a gestational surrogate, and both a sperm and egg donor — could all contribute to bringing a single child into the world. Not only does intent provide a practical answer to such modern parentage dilemmas, but it recognizes the often-minimized emotional investment of men who wish to be fathers.