Baby Steps: BC’s Family Law Act Clarifies Status of Sperm Donors, Egg Donors, Surrogate Mothers; Says Child Can Have More than Two Parents

Finally, since March 2013, the law offers certainty to queers who want to become parents.

For prospective queer parents, a donation of sperm or eggs is a necessity. Gay dads, couples with a trans parent, or infertile lesbians also need a surrogate (a woman who will carry the child).

Sperm donors can be either known (the “turkey baster method”) or unknown, with sperm from a clinic. Eggs have to be extracted by a clinic. A surrogacy arrangement can either be made through a clinic, or through a friend who will bear a child and then give the child to the child’s parent(s) to raise.

Till the Family Law Act in 2013, it was unclear whether a donor (of sperm, for example) did or could have any parental rights or responsibilities under the law.

If a child was born with the use of a surrogate, it was necessary to get a court order declaring the intended parents to be the legal parents of the child.

And although two co-mothers could register at birth and be on a child’s birth certificate, an adoption or a declaration of parentage was required before the comother was a full legal parent of her child.

And the maximum number of parents a child could have was two.

All that has changed.

The BC Family Law Act
– spells out that donors are NOT “parents”, unless they are using the donated material to create a child that they will themselves raise, or unless the donor has a parenting agreement with the child’s other parent(s)
– says that intended parents can be registered after the birth of a child by a surrogate mother, without a court order
– says that a child can have more than two legal parents, provided that all the people intending to parent sign an agreement to do so before the child is conceived. A child’s birth certificate would then list all those parents.

For a detailed discussion of the provisions, check out the paper that barbara findlay and Zara Suleman wrote for the Continuing Legal Education Society: Baby Steps: Assisted Reproduction and the Family Law Act (96 pages)