Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Province to review rules involving surrogate couples

  • Print

THE minister responsible for Manitoba's Vital Statistics Agency says he will investigate whether rules and procedures can be changed to avoid the frustration suffered by a city couple whose names weren't listed on the certificates of their twin sons' births.

"We're going to continue to look at what is happening in other jurisdictions and see what we can do to help make it easier for couples in this situation," Jim Rondeau said Tuesday.

Rondeau was responding to the story of Mike Olson and Lisa Seel, parents of twin boys born Dec. 24. The babies were carried to term by Seel's sister, Averill Stephenson, following embryo transplants.

The couple got legal advice on how to proceed with the surrogacy, but were unprepared for how Vital Statistics would record their sons' births. Stephenson was listed as the mother on the birth certificates, and since she is legally married, her husband was automatically listed as the dad. Olson and Seel now have to go to court to have the birth certificates reflect the reality they are, in fact, the parents.

But both Rondeau and the director of Vital Statistics, Susan Boulter, said Tuesday the couple's lawyers should have warned them they would have to apply to the courts to make the changes.

And Boulter said the court process is neither overly cumbersome, nor is it all that rare. "So far this year, we've had 39 children that have been reported as a result of assisted human reproduction in some way," she said. Last year, there were 81 such instances.

Boulter said the rules are designed with the interests of children in mind and apply to the majority of births.

"You have to understand, there are 17,000 births (in Manitoba) a year," she said. "These happen everywhere, from back of ambulances to small birthing centres. We have to make sure that the rules and the paperwork are pretty straightforward for the people to fill in. We have people who don't speak English, who are new immigrants, who are illiterate. We have to make it (the process) as streamlined as possible."

Currently, rules governing the recording of births do not recognize surrogacy, so an application has to be made to the courts to establish parentage. Birth documents can and are changed upon court orders. And they're done more frequently than the public might think.

For instance, the father is only automatically recorded on a birth certificate if he is legally married to the birth mother. Many babies are born to unmarried women. To list the father, the two parents must file a joint request in which both parents agree on the identity of the dad.

In cases where a woman is still legally married but is no longer living with her husband and has a child with someone else, a statutory declaration is needed to clarify the true father (as again the presumption is the legal husband is the father).

In Manitoba, births must be registered within five days of their occurrence. In cases such as Olson's and Seel's, the dad, Olson, could have got a court order in advance declaring him to be the father, but the surrogate mother would still have been listed as birth mother, Boulter said.

Olson said Tuesday he and his wife brought their situation to the public's attention in the hopes of streamlining the process for future couples.

Boulter said the province recently became aware British Columbia has amended its laws to prevent couples from having to obtain a court order. Manitoba has just received a copy of the B.C. law and is studying it.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: NDP Self-Destruction

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Would you visit Dalnavert Museum if it reopened?

View Results

Ads by Google