It was only in May last year that the final sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were enacted, allowing same-sex female couples to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children.
The legislation means that both the birth-mother of a child and the intending co-parent (the spouse, civil partner or co-habitant) can now register with the Registrar for the Births Deaths and Marriages as the parents of a child born as a result of a donor assisted human reproduction (DAHR) procedure.
Before that, couples had to go through a lengthy court process in order for both parents to be legally recognised as the parents of their child.
And now a same-sex couple from Bishopstown, Co. Cork, has become the first in Ireland to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children from birth.
Niamh O’Sullivan and Geraldine Rea had been having fertility treatment over a period of two years before Rea became pregnant last summer, after initially having their embryo transfer delayed when lockdown first set in back in March last year.
Speaking to the Independent, the couple explains:
“We had been due to have the frozen embryo transfer in March 2020, but the week of the scheduled procedure the government lockdown came into place,” Rea explains.
“We were rescheduled and thanks to good timing and the hard work of the team at the clinic, the transfer took place two days after restrictions were lifted for fertility clinics, and we finally became pregnant.”
Réidín and Aoibhín were born on February 4.
Earlier this week, the baby’s births were registered following the enactment of legislation in May 2020, when the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 commenced.
“We were delighted when the legislation was enacted in May last year at a time when we were dreaming of becoming parents,” says Rea. “Little did we know then that fate would lead us to being the first to benefit from this new law.”
The couple wants their legal recognition as co-parents to help pave the way for other same-sex couples in similar situations.
“It is monumental for us and a historic step towards LGBT+ equality, as many children with same-sex female parents can finally vindicate their right to have their family recognised,” O’Sullivan said.
At present, the amended Children and Family Relationships Act only apply to female same-sex parents of a child born as a result of a donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR).