Couple fight to add both mothers to baby’s birth certificate in NS
A lesbian couple in Nova Scotia say they are frustrated with the long and arduous process of trying to add both mothers to their daughter’s birth certificate.
Caitlin and Stacey Lamrock, who live in Wolfville and have been married for seven years, welcomed their first baby, Gwendolyn, in mid-July at the IWK Health Center in Halifax.
The baby was conceived through a sperm donor and it was Caitlin who carried her to term, although Stacey was there every step of the way – from pregnancy to birth, changes in sleep at recess.
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“Stacey is amazing. I don’t know how I could have made it without Stacey,” Caitlin said.
“It’s been a lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings. … Stacey has been a great support for Gwen and me.
But despite her many contributions to Gwendolyn’s life and the deep love she feels for her child, Stacey was unable to register as a second parent on her birth certificate.
Instead, this field reads: « Not specified ».
Not acknowledging her as Gwendolyn’s parent was « devastating, » Stacey said, as it could impact her rights to her child.
« At the end of the day, she’s my daughter, » she said.
“It’s heartbreaking. I’m terrified that something will happen (to Caitlin) and she will be taken from me.
How did it happen
Although Nova Scotia updated its vital statistics regulations in 2007 to allow same-sex couples to be registered as parents on a child’s birth certificate, the Lamrocks have said it did not help in their case.
After Gwendolyn was born, Caitlin said she used a kiosk to register her birth at the IWK Health Center in Halifax. When filling out the information for the other parent, they were offered two options: assisted conception and a known donor.
While the couple knew who the donor was, they did not know him personally. When they received the gift, he agreed to give up all parental rights, Caitlin said.
« Technically, we don’t know the donor other than his name, » said Caitlin, who said she found the donor online.
However, « known donor » was the option that made the most sense, so that’s what she chose at the booth.
The couple later received a letter in the mail from Vital Statistics, saying Stacey’s name will be removed from Gwendolyn’s birth registration.
« Because your child was not conceived through assisted reproduction, the other parent will be removed from your child’s birth registration, » the August 29 letter reads.
« Since the person who helped conceive your child is known, the only way the other parent can be added to your child’s birth registration is through adoption. »
This was news to the Lamrocks, who were unaware of such a policy. Attempts to obtain further information were unsuccessful, Caitlin said.
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« We’ve spoken to about three or four different people from Vital Stats, and no one is able to give us a reference, some sort of document or legislation, that lists what they’re saying, » she said. declared.
The situation has been frustrating for the couple, who said the decision to have a baby came after a lot of thought, research and preparation.
« It was a long process, a thoughtful process, » Stacey said. « We did everything we could to make it right, and ultimately the right was always taken away from us. »
« I love him more than life itself »
If Caitlin had been married to a man, they say — biological father or not — he would have been added to the birth certificate more easily.
Caitlin said she had a friend, a transgender man who went through the same process to acquire a donor. The friend was listed on her child’s birth certificate without issue, Caitlin said, even though he was not the child’s biological father.
« It’s just not fair, that’s where we’re coming from, » she said.
« Obviously there’s no way we could have created this little package without having a male input, we understand that, but there’s absolutely no parental input from (the donor). «
Now the couple’s only option is for Stacey to officially adopt Gwendolyn, which will cost thousands of dollars.
That’s what they plan to do, but they weren’t prepared for this extra financial burden – all for a child Stacey loved and cared for since before she was born.
« I love her more than life itself, » Stacey said. « Just because she’s not biologically mine doesn’t make any difference to me. »
The Lamrocks, who called the situation unfair and discriminatory, also plan to file a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
The law needs to be modernized: Service Nova Scotia
Service Nova Scotia, which is responsible for vital statistics, did not make anyone available for an interview. But in a statement, a spokesperson acknowledged « some of the difficult situations families may encounter when registering a birth ».
“They are working to address concerns and are currently in the midst of extensive consultation as they consider modernizing the Vital Statistics Act and its regulations to help recognize and respect the diversity of New Brunswick families. Scotland,” he said.
The statement noted that more information on assisted reproduction is available under the province’s birth registration regulations. The regulations define assisted reproduction as « a conception resulting from artificial reproductive technology, using an anonymous sperm donor », and specifies that if a married couple uses this method, the mother’s spouse will be registered as the parent of the child.
However, the regulations make no mention of known donors and do not specify that parents will not be added to the birth certificate if the donor is known to them.
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The Service Nova Scotia statement also says that the rules for known donors are different because if the donor knows the identity of the child, and if « at some point the donor decides that he wishes to be recognized as a parent of the child, he could pursue a search for paternity.
But the Lamrocks had the donor sign a known sperm donation agreement in October 2021. The agreement, seen by Global News, shows the donor « fully understands that he would have no parental rights » over child, and says he will. not to « require, seek, or coerce guardianship, custody, or visitation rights. »
In response to a question about the couple having to shell out thousands of dollars for either of them to have parental rights over a child they are already caring for, Service Nova Scotia said: « We understand that regulatory changes are needed. »
« We are holding extensive consultations to help inform the work we are doing to modernize the Vital Statistics Act and regulations, » the statement said.
« She doesn’t deserve this »
Still, the Lamrocks are enjoying their first few months with Gwendolyn, who was all smiles in a pink jumpsuit when Global News visited her earlier this week.
« She’s an amazing little girl and daughter. We love her, and she’s happy all the time, » Stacey said.
“Gwen is perfect. I might be a little biased, but Gwen is pretty perfect,” Caitlin added.
“And she doesn’t deserve that. She deserves to have her mother — the only other relative she knows — listed on her birth certificate, and to feel no worse than that because she’s in a lesbian relationship.
The couple say they are going public with their story to raise awareness of the issue and hopefully spur policy changes that will make it easier for same-sex couples to have children.
« We obviously don’t want anyone going through what we’re going through, » Stacey said. « We want to let people know that it’s not as easy as everyone thinks. »