On January 2, 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeal (the highest court in the province of Ontario) made the monumental decision that a child could have three legal parents (read the decision here). This case is already being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, as such a redefinition has serious consequences on everything from step-families to polygamy. Perhaps Ontario birth certificates would now be able to provide three blanks: Parent A, Parent B, and Parent C.
The case involves a lesbian couple and a male friend who donated his sperm to help the lesbians have a baby. The male donor (who has his own family and children) chose to stay casually involved in his new son's life - he has dinner with the lesbian couple once a week. Most importantly, both he and the lesbians recognize that he is this child's biological father, and the lesbians allowed him to stay involved in that capacity, although they are the "primary caregivers" of the child.
This is a new trend that I have noticed taking root among homosexual parents. Since they can't hide the fact that they needed a third party to bring about "their" child, they come out of the closet about it - they "celebrate" it and create one big happy family, with the real father or mother becoming a very special friend - or in this case, a third parent.
The lesbian couple here went even further. They decided not to take the biological father off the birth certificate, because they recognize his importance and role (imagine, a donor father is recognized by everyone without the blink of an eye as a rightful legal parent! ). Makes one wonder about all of the social parents who waste so much blog space fighting against the idea that donors are real parents.
Rather, the lesbians sued to ADD the nonbiological lesbian "mom" as a third legal parent - and they won.
While the implicit recognition of the importance and rightful role of donor fathers is a good thing, the "three legal parents" decision is very disturbing. If three parents, why not four? (If the lesbians had used both a sperm and egg donor, the court would presumably have had to recognize four legal parents). Why not ten? Perhaps it really does take a village to raise a child. This is the true redefinition of parenthood and the family, and could snowball us straight into a world we do not recognize.
The outcome of this case shows that when we divorce biology and parenthood, we end up in a vertiable mess of unknown proportions. Once we allow biological strangers to get their name on the birth certificate AS IF they were natural parents, just because they love and care for the child, it's hard to keep the floodgates closed.
One problem is, love and care are unstable - they are not as immutable as blood, and it's hard to hang lifetime duties, responsibilities and rights on such flimsy hooks. If the lesbians break up, the nonbiological lesbian will now be forever involved with decision-making about that child.
Another problem is that love and care can be provided to a child by any number of people. There is nothing about love and care that is necessarily limited to two people. For example, if the biological lesbian mom discovers that she is bisexual, and she gets into a new long-term relationship with both a man and a woman, and these now love and help to raise the lucky child, why shouldn't they become the fouth and fifth legal parents?