Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is Katy Faust. I am President of Them Before Us, a global children’s rights nonprofit. I write regarding the proposed European Certificate of Parenthood/Regulation on Cross-Border Parenthood on behalf of the children whose rights will be violated in the name of “strengthening and protecting” the rights of children.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly and correctly identifies child rights which the Certificate of Parenthood twists and appropriates to advance the priorities of adults. The actual rights of children- to their identity, to not be separated from their parents against their will, and to be born free- are violated in the process.
1. The Certificate of Parenthood violates children’s right to his or her identity. According to the UNCRC, identities are not bestowed, they are “preserved.” (Article 8) Every child, without exception, has a father and a mother and by extension, a heritage. “Irrespective of how the child was conceived or born,” it is only “both parents” (Articles 9, 10, and 18) who grant children the biological identity which helps them answer the question, “who am I?” The Certificate of Parenthood does not preserve a child’s identity, it fabricates an identity. This is harmful to children. According to their 2020 survey, We Are Donor Conceived found a majority of their members “hope to form a close friendship with their biological [donor] parent” and believe there is a “basic human right to know the identity of both biological parents.”
Being “loved and wanted” doesn’t erase a child’s need to know their biological identity. A Certificate of Parenthood doesn’t tell children “who they are,” it tells them who adults wish them to be, that is, the child of one or two biological strangers.
2. The Certificate of Parenthood violates children’s right to “not be separated from his or her parents against their will.” (Article 9) Few families are seeking a Certificate of Parenthood after a legitimate case of child separation, “such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents.” Rather, these cross-state arrangements largely arise after adults have inflicted cases of parent/child separation at conception. Unlike adoption where child well-being is “paramount” (Article 21), use of “donor” sperm or egg or surrogate is never in “the best interests of the child,” since it purposely severs the child’s relationship with their mother and/or their father.
While all children suffer loss when separated from their biological parents, from the perspective of child well-being, adults inflicting vs healing the parental wound is a critical distinction. The chart above reflects findings from “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor,” the only study to compare adopted children, donor-conceived children, and children raised by their biological parents. It finds that children being raised by adults seeking to mend their wound (adoption) fare better than children raised by adults who inflicted their wound (third-party reproduction).
3. The Certificate of Parenthood violates children’s right to be born free. The rise of Modern Families is built on the commodification of children. These arrangements are flagrant violations of inter-country adoption best practice which “take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.” (Article 21) Unlike adoption which prohibits payment to the birth parents, third-party reproduction relies on direct payments to the genetic father, genetic mother, and/or birth mother for child relinquishment. Children created via these arrangements often object to the commercial nature of their conception. “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor” found 45 percent agreed, “It bothers me that money was exchanged in order to conceive me.”
Seventeen-year-old Brian, born through surrogacy, has no illusions about the connection between third-party reproduction and trafficking.
How do you think we feel about being created specifically to be given away?… I don’t care why my parents or my mother did this. It looks to me like I was bought and sold. You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you want…. But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood child. I [don’t] care if you think I am not your child, what about what I think! Maybe I know I am your child. When you exchange [something] for [m]oney it is called a commodity. Babies are not commodities. Babies are human beings.
A Certificate of Parenthood normalizes something that is never “normal” for a child: mother and/or father loss. In the name of “non-discrimination,” it discriminates against children. Member States which seek to honor children’s right to their identity, to not be separated from their parents, and to be born free should not be complicit in child harm under the guise of a Certificate of Parenthood.
Any “legal framework with uniform rules on… the recognition of parenthood between Member States” must honor the rights of children as outlined in the UNCRC. The Certificate of Parenthood does indeed create uniform rules. But it does so via the state-sanctioned denial of child rights, not by upholding them.
I urge you, on behalf of the children who cannot defend their own rights, to both reject the Certificate of Parenthood and condemn any law or practice within Member States that strip children of their identity, separate them from their parents against their will, hinder them from being born free.