A 3-month-old girl has become the first child in Canada with three parents listed on a birth certificate.
The province of British Columbia’s new Family Law Act is the first to allow birth certificates with more than two parents.
Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards, 3 months, is the daughter of lesbian parents and their male friend.
“It feels really just natural and easy, like any other family,” biological father Shawn Kangro tells CBC News. “It doesn’t feel like anything is strange about it.”
Baby Della’s family is the first to undergo the process within the new Family Law Act. The western province is the first in Canada with legislation to allow three parents on a birth certificate.
Before welcoming their daughter, Danielle Wiley and her wife Anna Richards wanted to start a family, but weren’t sure where to start.
“Both of us, from the beginning, wanted to have a father that would actually be a participant,” said Wiley. “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.”
The couple agreed that Kangro, an old friend of Richards, seemed like an ideal choice.
“When Anna and Danielle approached me, I think instantly I thought I was going to say yes, even though I had to debate a lot of things in my head first,” said Kangro.
Before going ahead with their family plans, the trio created a written contract, outlining expectations and guidelines. Wiley and Richards agreed to have custody and financial responsibility of Della, while Kangro would be a guardian, with rights to access.
After signing on the dotted line, Wiley conceived Della without the help of a clinic, using instead the “homestyle” method.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the unconventional family.
“The birth certificate process has been, well, a bit of a process,” admitted Wiley. “The form that you can automatically fill in online, we weren’t able to do, because it didn’t have a space for a third parent. And it was really important to us to have Shawn on the birth certificate. But we didn’t want him on the birth certificate at the expense of Anna.”
Vital Statistics sent the trio a new form, with space for up to four parents.
“Up until now, a child could only have two legal parents,” said lawyer barbara findlay (whom spells her name without capital letters). “There is now an upper limit of — we won’t know how many parents. There’s provision for at least four parents, and possibly more.”
“The really big shift in the Family Law Act in terms of parents, is how you decide who’s a parent,” findlay continued. “In the old days, we looked at biology and genetic connections. And that’s no longer true. We now look at the intention of the parties who are contributing to the creation of the child, and intend to raise the child. And that’s a really, really big shift.”
As for their community, the new parents say it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response.
“Of course there’s the odd person who worries that we’ve stepped into something that doesn’t have a precedent,” said Richards. “Now that it has come to fruition and people see that we’re just this family doing our thing, it’s real now, and it becomes much easier to digest for whoever had doubts.