Monday, 17 September 2012

Illegitimate- An Outdated Term for Children


I am now officially in the demographic where over 33 percent of my friends on facebook are pregnant or already have children.  Not to out anyone in particular, but a significant number of those people discovered that they were pregnant prior to being married.  Many of these couples did subscribe to the necessity of a shotgun wedding.  My only conclusion for this is that underneath everything, it was to claim some sort of legitimacy for their child.  There are a few more liberal definitions of legitimate child floating around that include an amendment which states that if the marriage happens shortly after the birth they may still be considered within this term, but the legal definition is that the wedding must have occurred prior to the child's birth.

With divorce rates so high and couples choosing happiness over marriage and lasting commitments of unhappiness this term should naturally decline in use.  I was born in to a happily married young couple,  who divorced just shortly after I was 18 months old.  I was not technically born as a bastard, but my mother was for all intents and purposes a single mother until I turned 10 when she met my step dad.  The technicality of why I was a legitimate baby just does not make any sense to me.  The spark to this was the other day I was having a conversation whereby a few of us were guessing which sibling would produce the first grandchild.  Almost instantly the game was amended to include the parameter that the child had to be legitimate. 

Does this mean that the child born in wedlock would receive an increased amount of love and privilege?  Should this honestly affect the child’s status?  Did the level of love I received decrease because my mom was single when she raised me?  As well, what if a triad was raising a baby, or a poly family?  Are certain members granted more legitimacy than others if all parties are equal?  This is just a new set of challenges that our society needs to face head on and start thinking more clearly about the terms that we throw around.  I know exactly what it felt like when I was first called a bastard growing up, and I staunchly denied it on the basis that my parents were married when I was born.  Somehow as a young child I was raised to learn that that made all the difference in the world.  But there is no way anyone could tell me that I would be loved any less had my mom given birth to me out of wedlock.  And I felt no less love from my family and extended family being raised by just one parent. 

Illegitimate should be taken out of our legal vocabulary.  It is a definition with no gains to be made, and is outdated.  I should add though, that some of you may view this post as a hypocrisy on my part when it comes to marriage.  I have written that I would like my children to grow up in a household where everyone has the same last name, and that is most definitely a want on my part.  But whether that is a reality or not, there will be zero impact on the unconditional love that will be present and always surrounding that child.  I want a unity of last names and legally that can occur with or without wedlock.

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