Canada should be number one option for surrogacy: Cohen

By Randy O'Donnell, Associate Editor

There are very few reasons for Canadians wanting to become parents to go abroad for surrogacy, Toronto fertility lawyer Sara Cohen tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Cohen, founder of Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP, says a recent case of a man who ran into visa problems in Kenya when he tried to bring his twin infants home, is an example of why Canada is the best option.

“Really, we do it better than any other country in the world,” she says. “The only places I would recommend to do surrogacy is Canada or certain U.S. states where it is legal and safe to do so. There really is no other place in the world where I think it’s a good idea,” says Cohen, who has worked with more than 1,000 families in her practice, which is devoted exclusively to fertility.

Global News reports twin girls were born to a Kenyan surrogate mother after the Canadian father paid approximately $81,000 to an India-base fertility clinic, a dollar figure Cohen tells AdvocateDaily.com is comparable to the cost in Canada.

However, the man faced challenges bringing the infants home due to an amendment to the Canadian Citizen Act in 2015.

She tells AdvocateDaily.com the amendment assures citizenship status for children born outside Canada. However, that perpetuity ends after the first generation if the parent wasn't born here.

Since the man was born in Italy and came to Canada when he was five, his twins were not entitled to automatic citizenship.

The Canadian government has since granted them visas and the family has arrived back home.

“It’s wonderful that it turned out the way it did. I think it could have been much worse from a time perspective. I think he got home much faster than he could have,” says Cohen, who was not involved in the case and comments generally.

“We’ve certainly seen instances where that hasn’t been the case.

“It’s the genetic link that saved him despite the fact he is not entitled to pass on his citizenship. I think the Canadian government acted so quickly because of that connection to his children.”

She says anyone considering surrogacy abroad should seek advice from a lawyer based in that country to discuss the legal framework for parentage there. Cohen says a Canadian lawyer should also be consulted to clarify any possible immigration issues.

“There can be all kinds of problems with international surrogacy, especially in countries where there isn’t a good framework,” Cohen says.

“What I can say about surrogacy in Canada is that you’re dealing with women who have a great deal of agency. They don’t need to be doing this. These are people who have a home, probably have a family, most likely have a livelihood. They are making a choice — thinking this a good experience for them and everyone involved.”

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