A lesbian couple in Vancouver, British Columbia, has made history with their baby’s birth certificate. Three people are listed as Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards’ parents. Danielle Wiley and Anna Richards are the baby’s mother. Shawn Kangro is the child’s sperm donor.
The Family Law Act that made Della Wolf’s multi-parent registration possible came into effect in March 2013. In a society where separation, divorce, re-marriage, common-law families and same-sex marriages are common, the old law was not keeping up with children’s needs. Lawyer barbara findlay (sic) helped the three parents with the process and told CBC:
The really big shift in the Family Law Act in terms of parents is how you decide who’s a parent. 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.
Many forward-thinking, child-centered provisions are part of the new act. The possibility of listing more than two parents on a birth certificate is one that had escaped my notice until news of Della Wolf’s trail-blazing birth registration became public.
My ears were flapping when I heard it on CBC radio because the Vancouver baby has a family similar to two of my granddaughters. Their mothers, who live in Australia, also chose a friend to be the baby daddy. Like the Vancouver mothers, they agreed he would have the opportunity to be part of the children’s lives, while the couple would be the legal parents, with all the joys and responsibilities that role entails.
What struck me as I listened to the report on Della Wolf and her parents is that now birth certificates can acknowledge the value of the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When Wiley and Richards decided to have a family, they wanted their baby to know her father. Wiley told CBC:
Both of us, from the beginning, wanted to have a father that would actually be a participant. 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.
As children like Della Wolf and my granddaughters grow up, they and their parents will continue to break new ground. They will model an expanded sense of what makes a family. They will show that love, both within the home and in the larger community, plays a more important role in making a healthy family than how the family unit came to be formed.
Thank you, Danielle, Anna and Shawn. Thank you, Michelle, Miriam and Graeme. You are living examples of creating intentional villages to surround children with love. You give me hope.