How to Make a Baby – A guide for lesbians in Canada
Wondering about the legal and practical aspects of making a baby as a lesbian in Canada? Here are some places to start.
The Traditional Method
There are some traditional ways of making a baby which I am sure you are all familiar with – yes I am talking about turkey basters and gay male friends, of course. I’m told from friends who have done it that this method involves a condom, a friend with the requisite equipment who has been tested for STIs well in advance and then stayed safe since, and a sterile syringe – the kind without a needle in it. There are lawyers available who can draw up agreements that specify what the role of the donor is in the baby’s life – which is a good idea to prevent misunderstandings or people changing their minds.
If you use a fertility clinic to help with this, the sperm donor can’t be paid (illegal in Canada), needs to be screened and then quarantined for 6-9 months before being used. I’m not sure why this is, since heterosexuals don’t need to quarantine fresh sperm, but I imagine it is to allow for STI testing. You can also buy sperm from sperm banks. Here is an example of the process there from a LGTBQ-friendly fertility clinic in Vancouver.
You can figure out when you might be ovulating by tracking your cycle for several months with one of the apps made for that purpose. You can also track your temperature each morning with a special more sensitive thermometer and chart it to help narrow down when you are ovulating, as your base morning temperature changes very slightly. I’m told that having an orgasm after injecting the sperm helps it get up where it belongs. It sounds to me like a good way to involve your partner in the baby-making process.
If you care about the sex of your baby, then you keep the following principles in mind: xy sperm is faster, and xx sperm live longer, so if your egg is already ripe and waiting when the first sperm arrives, the embryo is likely to be male, and if the sperm has to hang out for a day or two to wait for the egg, the xy sperm die off, leaving the xx ones, so then the embryo is likely to be female.
Co-Maternity / Reciprocal In Vitro Fertilization
This is where one parent goes through a process to harvest her eggs, then those eggs are fertilized and the resulting embryo is implanted in her partner. This makes both women biological parents of the resulting baby, and in Canada they can be listed as such.
Can your partner be listed as a parent on the baby’s birth certificate?
In Canada, a man married to a woman who gives birth is presumed to be the father of the baby, but a woman married to a woman who gives birth is not unless a co-maternity agreement is in place. You can go through an adoption process after the birth to have the second mother adopt her own child to be listed as a legal parent.
Sperm Bank Donors
There are a number of lesbian-friendly reproductive clinics in major cities in Canada. They allow parents to select purchased sperm based on some criteria of the donor such as ethnicity, education and religion. If you are using donor sperm from someone you know, but want to use the services of a reproductive clinic to inseminate or use IVF, that sperm will have to be screened according to the same rules used for anonymous sperm.
If you do purchase sperm, it might be a good idea to find out if your sperm bank has any limits on how many times a particular sample can be used. It is not unusual for children conceived with sperm bank sperm to have 30 or more ‘diblings’ (half-siblings from the same donor). You may also want to reserve a second dose if you want your child to have siblings from the same donor, in case your bank runs out of your particular donor’s supply.
What about three biological parents?
In theory, three humans can be involved, functionally, in creating a baby – you can have an egg from one person, sperm from another and implant the resulting embryo in the uterus of a third person, who gestates and births the baby. All of these people have a reasonable claim on being biological parents of the resulting baby and in Canada can be listed on the birth certificate as parents. So if you want to co-parent with the person providing the sperm, and want them listed on the birth certificate, this is an option in Canada.
- Legal information
- Canadian screened sperm providers
- LGBT friendly assisted reproductive services