Thanks to the Family Law Act which came into force in 2013, British Columbia is one of the first jurisdictions in the world (if not the first) to recognize more than two parents on a child’s birth certificate. Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards of Vancouver is the first baby in British Columbia to have three parents on her birth certificate, and it is likely that she won’t be the last.
With some couples turning to assisted reproduction in order to conceive or have children, this is something that can help to clarify the rights of all involved. The FLA allows for sperm donors to be listed as additional parents on the child’s birth certificate provided that the parents sign a written agreement before conception. Generally, if there is no agreement prior to conception, a donor will not be considered a parent, and a donor would not be considered a parent to a child by reason only of the “donation”. Baby Della came to be after Danielle Wiley and her wife, Anna Richards, sought more than genetic material from their sperm donor: an actual father figure as well. This came in the form of an old friend of Mrs. Richards, Shawn Kangro.
Before Della was conceived, the parties drafted a written contract that outlined the roles and responsibilities of each of the parents. In this case, it was reported that Mrs. Wiley and Mrs. Richards would have guardianship, custody and financial responsibility of Della, and that Mr. Kangro would be a guardian with rights to have parenting time with Della. For these parents, it appears that having the roles clarified prior to having baby Della was a way to provide clear expectations. It is important to note that if the agreement and any parenting arrangements were to be challenged in the future by any one of the parents, the only consideration would be the best interests of Della.
While the family encountered a few issues with the actual registration of three parents on Della’s birth certificate, Vital Statistics has at least created a new form with space for up to four parents to be registered. With assisted reproduction, the FLA now recognizes that biology and genetic material are not always the only or main determinants of parentage, and that the intention of the parties who work together to create a child is also important when it comes to determining parentage and defining its roles and responsibilities.