Winnipeg family wants changes to surrogacy laws
A Winnipeg couple whose twin sons were born with the help of a surrogate is urging the Manitoba government to change its laws surrounding surrogacy.
Lisa Seel says she and her husband still have not been recognized as the parents of Kai and Keenan, who were born on Dec. 24.
"My husband and I have been through a lot to try and have these babies, and we finally have them," Seel told CBC News.
"We're the ones who are taking care of them. They're our babies, so it's kind of frustrating that we're not recognized as the parents."
Seel said they tried unsuccessfully to have children for seven years. Her sister, Averill Stephenson, then volunteered to carry Seel's fertilized eggs to term.
"It was an easy decision for us to make," said Stephenson. "There's no two people in this world that I can think of that deserve to be parents."
Manitoba law automatically deems the woman who delivers the baby to be the mother.
That means in Seel's case, even though they had a surrogacy agreement, Stephenson is considered to be the boys' mother until Seel and her husband can convince a judge that they are the official parents.
Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said the province is looking at updating its legislation surrounding surrogacy.
"The law is the law and it takes a long time to change, but you have to do it in a very sure-footed way," Rondeau said.
Fertility lawyer Sara Cohen, who deals with 30 to 40 surrogacy cases a year at her Toronto-based practice, said British Columbia has recently streamlined the process surrounding surrogacy.
"Manitoba — like, unfortunately a lot of the other provinces across the country — hasn't, I guess, really taken the time to update its legislation," she said.
While her legal fight is underway, Seel said she's not getting employment insurance or the child tax credit.
"My parental leave hasn't gone through because they don't know how to necessarily deal with my situation," she said.