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Why Should I Adopt My Own Child ? The Use of Adoption by Special Consent to Establish the Filiation of a Child Born of a Surrogate Pregnancy in Quebec

Kévin Lavoie, Isabel Côté, Sophie Doucet

Research Framework : In Quebec, a child conceived through a surrogate pregnancy has initially as parents the woman who gave birth to him and the man (or one of the men) who instigated the parental project. To establish filiation with the non-statutory parent, adoption by special consent has been the route used for many years.

Objectives : This article aims to identify the issues that the use of adoption by special consent as a modality of affiliation in the context of surrogacy can generate during pregnancy and at the time of delivery, but also in the organization of family life in the postnatal period.

Methodology: The data presented are drawn from two qualitative research studies that gathered the experiences of people directly involved in a surrogacy arrangement through individual interviews. Forty-seven participants (n = 47) were interviewed, including twelve heterosexual parents, seventeen gay fathers, and eighteen surrogates. Data were subjected to secondary analysis by thematization.

Results: The results are broken down into three moments that punctuate the surrogacy process: 1) the intended parents’ sense of filiation and the surrogates’ refusal of maternal status, expressed as soon as the parental project is formulated and reiterated during the pregnancy; 2) the designation of the legal mother at the time of delivery; and 3) the families’ experience of public institutions in the postnatal period.

Conclusions : The period of uncertainty leading up to adoption by special consent weakens the experience of the intended parents that we encountered, in addition to entailing risks for the surrogates and the children thus born in the event of conflicts or dissolution of the agreement.

Contribution : The use of adoption by special consent in the context of surrogacy has been studied mainly from a legal perspective, through the study of family law judgments. This study allowed us to understand the issues underlying this form of affiliation, which has been used for some time in Quebec in the absence of a legal framework for surrogacy.