Known Sperm Donor Law in Canada

This is a scary topic for me. From my perspective (can’t speak for my wife), the legalities are my biggest barrier to using a known donor. I want to make antiquated, heterosexist parentage laws and policies work for me without breaking the law.

I want to outline some of what I have learned, because lists make me feel more comfortable.

  • Sperm has to be a “charitable” donation. It is illegal to pay someone for sperm in Canada.
  • Although some provinces have legislation protecting the parental rights of the sperm RECIPIENTS, Ontario has no such legislation. From what I understand, a sperm donor could have a change of heart and take you to court to get parental rights. Having an official sperm donor agreement can help in these cases, but there is no guarantee it would save your parental butt from the grief and heartache of such a legal battle.
  • It is illegal to name the non-birth mother as “Other parent” on the birth registration if the child was conceived with a known donor. You don’t have to put the sperm donor’s name on the birth registration though, even if it was a known donor. You would instead list only the birth mother as a parent, and add the other mother later.
  • How do you add the other mother to the birth registration? The easiest route seems to be Second Parent Adoption. The birth mother can add a second parent if they are in a spousal relationship as defined by the Family Law Act, and any parental rights of the known sperm donor must have been relinquished. You have to wait at least 7 21 days after the birth to apply for second parent adoption.
    Now if you were to do reciprocal IVF (taking the egg of one mother, fertilizing it with donor sperm, and implanting the embryo in the other mother for safe keeping for 9 months), both mothers can be listed on the original birth registration. But we are not going this route.
  • We want the child to have my wife’s last name. No can do until the adoption goes through. You have to legally change the child’s last name after (or as part of) the adoption process if you want to do this. I am going to look for loopholes given that my last name include’s my wife’s last name, hyphenated, and I think there is some legislation about choosing a different last name for your child for “cultural reasons”.

I have led a privileged life so far, even as a gay woman. I have never encountered direct discrimination based on my sexual orientation, even going through the process of marrying my same-sex partner. But starting a family with my wife is popping my privilege bubble. I am really clearly seeing the inequality for LGBTQ families, and I feel discriminated against, or treated unfairly by heterosexist laws and policies. It sucks.

If anyone reading this has further insights or experiences to share with me about this process, or if you know any of my info to be wrong, please let me know! Thank you!


1 thought on “Known Sperm Donor Law in Canada

  1. All the extra fees and doctors and lawyers really makes me mad sometimes (all the times). I know it can never be absolutely equal because of the involvement of a third party, but now it’s just ridiculous and for some, simply prohibitively expensive. It’s a little better here in AZ (which I never thought I’d say!) because right now even with a known donor we can put both of our names on the birth certificate, but the lawyers still advise second parent adoption right away.
    It especially sucks because on the one hand in a few more years a lot of the legal hoops we’re jumping through might become redundant, but right now we can’t know that and the case law is especially heterosexist. So you’re forced to decide just how much legal protection you can afford – and it is hella not cheap.


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