A three-month-old baby has become the first child in British Columbia, Canada, to have three legal parents on their birth certificate after new legislation came into force last year.
Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards is now officially recognised as the daughter of a lesbian couple, Anna Richards and Danielle Wiley, and Shawn Kangro, a close friend and sperm donor.
Ms Wiley and her wife, Ms Richards, wanted a child who would have a father that would participate in their life. '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', Ms Wiley said.
Ms Richard went to university with Mr Kangro, who had previously joked about having kids with her. Before Mr Kangro made the final decision, he consulted his family members and friends but said that it felt right from the beginning. 'Almost instantly, I knew I was going to be considering it really well', Mr Kangro said. 'It naturally felt very right'.
Before the baby was conceived, the parents-to-be drew a formal contract detailing how their arrangements would work. It was agreed that the lesbian couple would be the child's primary caregivers and Mr Kangro would be a guardian with a say in important decisions, like her schooling, medical history and would have access rights.
The trio are the first to include three names on a child's birth certificate under British Columbia's new Family Law Act passed in March last year. The province is the first in Canada to allow more than two parents on a birth certificate, up to a maximum of four, although some courts have allowed it on a case by case basis. In 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed two women and a man to be included on a child's birth certificate (reported in BioNews 390).
While Della's parents are reportedly very happy, some commentators have urged caution. The president of Kids First Parent Association of Canada, Helen Ward, told the Christian Post: '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'.
She explained that such decisions must be made in the 'best interests of the child' in accordance with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the British Columbia Family Act. The Catholic Civil Rights League, which was as an intervener in the 2007 case, warned that the effect of triple-parent relationships on children is unknown.