Canadian Group Responds to Case of Baby With Three Legal Parents

A Canadian organization for the well-being of children said that a recent case where a Vancouver baby became the first person in B.C. to have three legal parents could set the precedent for step parents, grandparents, and ex-spouses to ask to be named on birth certificates.

"It would be interesting to know what rationale has been given to limit the number of parents on the birth certificate to three, and if such a limitation could stand up if challenged under human rights law," Helen Ward, president of Kids First Parent Association of Canada, commented to The Christian Post in an email on Thursday.

Ward, whose organization was started in 1987 and encourages the importance of child care being provided within the home by a parent, noted that human rights laws such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as well as the BC Family Act, require that such decisions be made in the "best interests of the child."

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"It is possible that this will set a precedent for eg step parents, grandparents, ex-spouses, bio-parents who are not involved (eg fathers who are not named) to have the right to [be] named on a birth certificate."

National Post reported earlier this week that three-month old Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards of Vancouver became the first person in B.C. to have three parents named on her birth certificate, after new B.C. legislation came into effect. She is now officially recognized as the daughter of a lesbian couple, Anna Richards and Danielle Wiley, as well as Shawn Kangro, a close friend and male donor.

While Richards and Wiley, who gave birth to the baby girl on Oct. 23, 2013, will be the baby's primary caregivers, Kangro will be a guardian and have a say in important decisions in her life, including schooling and medical history.

"We wanted our kids to know where they came from biologically and actually liked the idea of having an extended family," Richards explained. "It didn't threaten us to have another person's involvement so long as it was the right person."

Kangro, who went to university with Richards, agreed to become the girl's guardian.

"It naturally felt very right," he said.

Wiley added that the couple wanted a father who would actually be a participant from the beginning.

"I know a lot of other lesbian couples don't want that. They want an anonymous donor. But both of us liked the idea of somebody who could actually be involved, and who could be a father figure to our children," she said, according to CBC News.

B.C. is the first Canadian province with legislation that allows more than two parents on a birth certificate, with up to four in total, though in January 2007 the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed a young boy to have one legal father and two legal mothers.

The Catholic Civil Rights League, which was as an intervener in the case, warned at the time that the effect of triple-parent relationships on children is unknown.

"It is clear that courts will be asked to fill in many gaps that exist in traditional understandings of family, as a result of changes to the definition of marriage, and parent, in Canadian law. Canadian courts have recognized lesbian parents on birth certificates to the exclusion of any father in the past year," argued CCRL President Phil Horgan.

"Future cases can be expected to ask to expand that number. In this case, the obvious question is that if a child can have three parents, who is to say three is the limit?"

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