La loi, l’engendrement, la filiation
Directed by Marie-Blanche Tahon
Heterogeneity of Normative Registers
The articles written in response to this issue’s call for submissions are steeped in an heightened questioning of developments made in modes of satisfaction of the desire for a child. Some of these modes are permitted by the legislator, while others fall somewhere between what is allowed and what is disallowed; still others are forbidden, even though they might seem less risky than practices that are permitted. This moment in legislative history is marked by both turmoil and incoherence.
Multiparenthood and Multi-kinship: An Anthropological Perspective on the Law of Adoption and Assisted Procreation in Quebec
In October 2009, Quebec’s Minister of Justice, Kathleen Weil, put forward a draft bill concerning filiation and parental authority entitled “an Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and parental authority.” At almost the same time – in December 2009 – the Ethics Committee for Science and Technology, under the direction of president Edith Deleury, released a report entitled “Ethics and assisted procreation: guidelines for the donation of gametes and embryos, surrogacy and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.” The aim of this article is to uncover what these texts say about multiparenthood and multi-kinship, and what new relationships they highlight between the law, the individual, and the family.
The Stalemate of Multiparenting at the Legal Level: Analysis of the Project of "Social Kinship" in Belgium
For the past few years in Belgium, a statute for ‘social kinship’ has been in development – one that would recognize the place and the rights of a “de facto” parent. Beyond the stated intentions, I will show how the issue of multiparenting constitutes one of the major difficulties preventing the passing of this project. The analysis will examine the different ways that parenthood is understood, and its legal recognition within different proposals for law, with the goal of gaining an understanding of the limits and ambivalences of these as well as the norms and the underlying representations of parents.
Kinship, Citizenship and Civil Status of Adopted Children
Françoise-Romaine Ouellette, Julie Saint-Pierre
This article considers the modification of the civil status of adopted children in terms of the expression of State power and the right to define individuals’ civil identity, kinship and citizenship. It highlights links between issues of filiation, citizenship, and civil status, and examines how birth certificates that are produced after a legal plenary adoption legitimize the erasure of a person’s origins. This erasure might not match with the subjective reality of adoptees, but is often contradicted by the documentation traces created in the course of international adoption. In conclusion, we discuss the possibility of a shift in the law toward a juridical approach to adoption that is no longer founded on the fiction of ‘re-birth.’
Variations on a Right: The Knowledge of One's Origins in France. From Childbirth Under X to Medically Assisted Procreation
This article examines the various stances in France about the individual’s right to learn about his or her origins. In 2002, it was still possible to choose to give birth anonymously in cases where the child was to be given up at birth; however, birth mothers were invited to leave their identity information with the Conseil national pour l’accès aux origines personnelles, a national committee established to field questions about personal origin. This committee was authorized to give the birth mother’s information to the child, only if requested, and once the child had reached the age of majority. In the same year, the anonymity of individuals who donated gametes for medically assisted procreation procedures was upheld, without a similar system for collecting information being established. A close examination of the differences in the handling of these two situations leads us to focus on the criteria that define parenthood, motherhood and origins – criteria that the recent debates about surrogacy are currently questioning, if not beginning to redefine.
Homopaternity and Gestational Surrogacy
Martine Gross, Dominique Mehl
This article follows the trajectories of gay fathers who chose to use a surrogate mother in order to become parents. First, we explore the steps leading from the acceptance of homosexuality to the fulfillment of the desire to father a child, examining the spousal or single aspect and the motivations behind the choice to use a surrogate. We then consider the social representations of motherhood evidenced in the discourse and the relationships that develop between the fathers and these ‘birth others’, without whom these men could not have become fathers.
Begetting in the Works of Luc Boltanski and Pierre Legendre: Cross Readings
In La condition foetale, Luc Boltanski constructs a model of begetting in order to study justifications around the practice of abortion. Drawing upon anthropological premises, he aims to provide a universal foundation for his theory of begetting in the Western world. Pierre Legendre, for his part, places the genealogical institution – which he defines as a mythical space common to all societies but anchored in the West in the Romanocanonical tradition – at the heart of his anthropologie dogmatique. This article examines the ways in which each of these authors, in order to construct a theory of begetting, articulates the universal in Western terms, and how they handle the relation to the Christian religion.
Abortion in Canada: A Boltanskian Reading of a Polarized Debate
Taking up the typology developed in Luc Boltanski’s book, La condition foetale: une sociologie de l’engendrement et de l’avortement (2004), we will show that Canada’s Supreme Court rulings reveal certain antagonistic conceptions of the beings that grow within women’s bodies. When we consider majority rulings against minority rulings, we see that the greater the sensitivity towards the fetus, the more polarized judges’ positions become. The refusal to democratize the question of abortion by officially opening this debate in the House of Commons is examined in light of this observation
Grandparents: A Source of Support for Parents of Disabled Children
Émilie Presutto, Georgette Goupil, Bernadette Rogé
Parents of children with a disability face many stressful factors, and have difficulty meeting their personal and professional obligations. This paper is a literature review of studies from 1985 to 2009 about grandparents’ support of such parents. Several factors that can influence the quality of this support are highlighted; grandparents’ ages and health conditions, geographical proximity, communication, closeness, intergenerational relationships, behaviour and involvement can all play a major role in the quality of help. Closeness seems to be the most important factor for the quality of the support and the level of involvement. This review underlines the importance of further study into how we might, in turn, assist grandparents in their supportive role in the family’s adjustment process.