Family / News & Politics / Parenting

“Othering” Lesbian Mothering

This week, I bring you more lesbian legal news from Ontario, Canada.

In July of last year, lesbian parents in Ontario won the right to have both women register on a child’s birth document, called the Statement of Live Birth. Before this decision, the non-bio mom was required to adopt her own child, usually waiting six months or more for this to go through, and often having to pay $1500 to $2500, depending on the lawyer. Our family didn’t qualify for this change for 2 reasons: One, our son was already born (the province had one year to make the changes) and two, we used a known donor (meaning we had to have him sign away his rights or be legally vulnerable if he ever requested custody).

My partner therefore had to adopt our son and just las month we completed our second parent adoption. Even though we were able to complete this before he was a year old, let me tell you, it was a serious pain in the a**. The Ontario registrar general can really rub salt in the wounds when you are trying so desperately to recreate family over here. As the birth mom, I was the only one allowed on the statement of live birth, and when requesting a birth certificate (which is the next step) I received not one, but two requests for his “father’s” first name (not last, because of course, he OBVIOUSLY has his “father’s” last name). Even though we had sent a letter stating why there was no father, even though we had left it BLANK, they still wanted to make sure I wasn’t denying some man’s rights to this kid.

Which brings me to my real point! Last week, after the adoption was finalized we filled out a new statement of live birth, placing my partner’s information in the “father’s” section. I found it odd that the form had yet to be changed, or that there was no alternate form, as same sex couples in Ontario have been adopting children for over 10 years now. On Thursday of last week, my neighbour witnessed the signing of our new statement of live birth, and I sent it off, registered mail.

THE NEXT DAY, I received an email from our friends at the LGBT Parenting Network about the change in language on the forms, due to the decision in July. I couldn’t believe this had come so shortly after having filled out the old form, and resigned myself to the fact that our son’s statement of live birth/birth certificate would be an historical document with his mother as the father. I opened up the document to see the changes anyhow. And what have been the changes? After “father”, they have included a slash (/) and the words, “other parent”.

Pardon? “Other” parent? What’s the deal here? What is “other” about my partner’s parenting? Why can’t she also be a mother?

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  1. I think on our post-adoption birth certificate, I am listed as Noah’s “mother” and Jill as his “parent.”

    Of course, I do live in a RED state…but still.

  2. For what it’s worth, I live in a blue state, and one that even has legal same-sex marriage, but friends of ours who have had a bio child and then done a second-parent adoption have actually had “father” crossed out in ink so someone at the hospital could WRITE IN “parent 2.” Insulting!

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