The Inspiring Story of Cindy Wasser
Cindy Wasser from Hope Springs Fertility is a leading Canadian surrogacy lawyer. A mum through surrogacy, Cindy has helped many Australian intended parents over many years with their Canadian surrogacy journeys.
Intro: You’re listening to the Australian Family and Fertility Law Podcast. Here’s your host, Stephen Page.
Stephen Page: Welcome to today’s podcast with the Australian Family and Fertility Law Podcast. My name is Stephen Page, and I’m a fertility lawyer. And I’ve been around for many, many years. And I’m joined today by a colleague from Canada, Cindy Wasser. And Cindy, like me as a parent through surrogacy and recently we spoke on a webinar about Australian-intended parents going to Canada. But that’s not today’s focus. Today’s focus is about Cindy because her story is truly an amazing one. So I want to throw it over to you, Cindy, to say hello and then tell us about how you got to become a lawyer in this space.
Cindy Wasser: Thank you, Stephen. It’s a pleasure to join you in. It’s always a privilege to work with you. And I’m really honoured that you thought of doing this with me. So let me give you a little bit of history. I was a criminal defence lawyer here in Toronto for almost 30 years, very high profile practice. I did a lot of international criminal law as well as the regular things here. But I was always in the news with my trials. I was the founding director of the Association of Defence of the Wrongly Convicted in Canada, argue that many constitutional from long cases.
And I had a really blessed career. I also remained a single woman through most of that time frame and was considered to be married to her career, in fact. And so at the rifle age of 42, I finally met my soulmate. And we knew right away we wanted to be together and have a family.
SP: You just do it.
CW: You just do it. You’re a…and that was 17 years ago. So, yeah, that was my soulmate. Still is. So we started trying the traditional way, and I wasn’t having much luck. I did get pregnant without trying initially and lost a baby at seven weeks early in the pregnancy. And then we couldn’t get pregnant again. So after all kinds of things, finally, the doctors recommended we consider searching for an egg donor. And at that time, there were no agencies in Canada that helps you find donors.
We had to find a donor ourselves.
SP: That would be, that would have been so hard.
CW: When I started, it was crazy because I have this high profile career. It’s not like I could take on another job of finding a donor. And my husband was a manager for mutual funds at one of the large Canadian banks. It’s not like he had a lot of time on his plans, either, managing billions of dollars of money. The clinics used to do it. But around that time in 2004, the Canadian law changed and made it illegal to and get money for funding donors in circuits. So the clinics dropped out as the business of matching.
So they gave us hits, which is advertised in College University newspapers. And that’s what we did. And lots of young and flippant women responded to those ads, and they never responded. Once we said Hello. So it was disheartening as well as time-consuming. And finally, one lovely young lad.
SP: So if we just stop you there for a second now, you’ve been through trying naturally that didn’t work and know that you’re still trying naturally. And then gone through the roller coaster of IVF, where you climb up to the top of the hill and hope that this time the cycle is going to work and then come crashing down the other side of the emotion of that. And then being told, “Well, better do egg donation.” And then you have this effort.
CW: And all the while, I’m doing these big trials. So I’m missing work time. I’m on hormonal drugs that make me super crazy because I was very sensitive to those drugs. And so I felt the need to share the personal business that I was enduring with the prosecutors and the judges because it wasn’t Tom Coleman for me to literally lose it in the courtroom. And I needed everybody to understand. And I tried to manage it. If there was a jury, we just took lots of breaks for me.
But I was very hormonal. And so my business was everybody’s business in the criminal. I’m just treating no no on Skype. Everyone knew I was like, Ellison, just gonna try to get pregnant today. And then two weeks later, I had to tell everybody didn’t work. And everybody I tell 300 people all the time. So I had [inaudible], and it was emotionally draining. And then when I was told it’s not going to be my biological child, I was crushed. And I don’t think I have ever hit a lower depth emotionally than that.
I understood that depression in that situation was nothing for me to worry about. Long term. I would overcome it one day, but it sure was blue at the time. It was pretty scary, and it was terrifying for my husband to see me that crushed.
SP: But this is the reality, isn’t it? This is a reality for intended parents. How many times have you and I’ve seen in a job that with heterosexual couples that typically or often hit his sperm will be used and she’ll need an egg? And there really is such an emotional toll on the way through, because we expect that our genetic material is going to be used. And then to be told.
CW: Sorry I couldn’t have and know what was hard for me is, I think when I met my husband, Chris at 42, a kind of new weak and need help. But when we got pregnant the first try and we weren’t even really trying, that was the sucker punch, because then I thought, well, I am very fertile. And then we couldn’t. So I went through this process that was worse. But then came all the guilt and shame that my body was failing. I was using all our money for this.
I was always worried about whether he wanted a baby as bad as I was. And I was just leaving our financial resources. And you go through all that. And every female client I have, I’ve shared all of these own experiences with me or I’ve shared mine with them. And they’ve not been alone. But I was alone. Most of my friends were able, even with some help, to have their own children. Nobody needed an egg donor in my circle of friends when they made their children. I was so much older at the time.
I was doing this. My friend’s children were starting University and finishing. So I didn’t have a best friend who could say, yeah, I’ve been there for this whole thing. And I was very, very lonely in it. And one of the things that most men do that I see with my clients and my experience is that they then try to beat the rock and don’t share their emotional sadness.
SP: And that’s exactly wrong. Absolutely.
CW: Women want to see that. So I always tell my clients, sit back. You can cry. You can be strong at a different time. But, you know, with my same-sex couples, there’s something else as well. It’s not that struggle, but you struggle your whole life. From the time you realised that you were gay at a young age if you’re older, there was a great deal of shame. And even in the younger groups, there still didn’t shame because we’re not in the perfect world yet. It’s getting better. But that horrible shame at a young age is not something that people couldn’t endure properly.
At least at 44 years old could get through it with majority I had and living in a country where I wasn’t being a criminal, being Baron. But, you know, so I think we still share a great deal of brief about trying to think about having a family when you can’t. And then you grow up thinking, okay, so I’m gay. I’m never going to be a dad. And then the world did open up recently in both places. Still not very clear. It’s still such a struggle. And yet today the gay man can say, I can have a child so I can accept who I am, know that I can make a family and go into it.
Hey, it’s still not your political struggle.
SP: You hit the nail on the head about the guilt on gay people. And I’ve acted for a number of lesbian couples where they’ve needed to undergo surrogacy and in turn, they’ve needed an egg donor. And you just have to think how much guilt these couples have gone through that it’s taken as a given that a woman can that Ares are fine, she can get pregnant. And then the thinking would have been, Well, if I can’t, then my partner can. And then they discover that both of them were unlucky.
And it really is. That, isn’t it? It’s just a matter of luck that you can’t determine we can’t greatly influence my practice.
CW: Which is most literacy. I don’t see a lot of lesbian couples doing surrogacy, but I do occasionally at lesbian couples who need against sperm donors. Of course, they all need sperm donors, but both eggs. So that I have these two women who are saying either one of us can do this. Oh, my God. Double whammy. Yeah. And they’ve lived with all of this other political shame all these years to get there. And I’m in Canada and Canada, this has been more than tolerated. It’s been accepted, you know, for so long now, nobody notices and cares very much.
If you’re safe in for walking down the street, it’s you. I’m proud to say we don’t care anymore. However, we are never giving up our Pride Week parade month anymore, because that’s the most fun we have. So we’re still trying to pretend that there’s some political reason for Pride parade, but it’s just a good party, but. Yeah, well, we go through all of that, and then, you know, it’s very difficult. So we found this wonderful, amazing woman. She is incredible. And then there’s this very strange struggle that, again, is consistent.
Most heterosexual couples. The woman in that I love this angel. I am so grateful for the existence of this woman. I hate her. She’s making a baby with my husband. So you have this deal of horrible guilt. How can I be jealous and hate this woman who is giving this gift to me and putting her body through such risk and pain and misery for me? And I’m actually having her, but I love her. And you struggle with that. So all I can say is therapy, therapy, therapy.
Thousands of dollars of it, because you have to grow up and get over all of these things. And what I wish someone had said to me is what I say to people. Now, the minute you start this process, you are a parent. You’re not becoming one. You are. You need to start acting like it. And if someone had said to me on day one be a parent now, I probably would have pulled up my thoughts a lot faster and got through so much of the grief, shame, guilt, all of it.
Because as a parent, you know, we lift a school bus, pull our child out if we have to. And that’s what you need to do when you’re going through this process. Every day, you’re lifting up a school bus and skip that kid out of there. And that’s how you make your baby. You push their dear. And so you don’t have the luxury of licking your wounds every day. When you’re a parent, you don’t get to have the flu if your kids will have flu the same time, can you?
SP: You just got to get on with it.
CW: You do. It begins with the making of the baby.
SP: As you said, you’ve got to be resilient if you don’t keep at it. And if you’re not resilient, you don’t persevere. You may not get sick.
CW: Yeah, me. And it’s just my nature. I am a resilient person. It’s probably what made me successful. Criminal defence lawyer. So that resilience. That strength and fortitude that I inherited from my ancestors who survived World War II and Hiving got me through this. And I just. I knew my heart is full, that my life was not going to be complete if I didn’t have a child somehow. And we did the adoption process. We went through all of it. We were number one on the list, you know, golden ticket parents to for any birth mother.
So we were told. But our loans say that a birth mother can change her mind in 30 days and take the baby out of your arms. And I can Pat puppies. And I’ve driven through the breeder to the vet to have my puppies checked. And I knew when that five-hour drive that if the vet told me my dog was a rabbit and had six brain tumours, so I was still keeping it. So as you fall in love. And I thought, how could I possibly give a baby back to somebody in a 30 day period?
I’d be a huge ative. So I couldn’t do the domestic adoption. My husband was actually very nervous about the openness of domestic adoptions, and he didn’t like the idea of it. He wanted choice. And so we looked at foreign adoption, which seemed insurmountable to us. The countries were limited. Our age also made it difficult. I couldn’t foresee myself spending about six months in Role China by myself because I couldn’t be there figuring out what I was doing. And then there were options in a lot of serval countries where we were, like, terrified about the legalities of it.
And I was still. Cindy was their famous criminal defence lawyer. I just couldn’t be involved in some baby selling ring that I didn’t know about. And I couldn’t go and live there for a bed time period. It would take we verify all that. So the option really was this. So we did. We met this egg donor. Sheep remained anonymous. Initially, she wanted to know me. She wanted to know us. And I couldn’t bear the thought of it. And I will tell you, the day that my husband made a baby with her was one of the worst days of my life.
My head knew this was in a lab dish. My heart saw them in some cheesy motel room. So I did.
SP: Well, I was gonna say, I hope it wasn’t in some cheesy my children. But.
CW: Then I did the only same thing I could think of. Which is what I tell my female clients. They must do. As I went up and got two big boxes of Magnum ice cream bars and eat my way through it. So I got through that. Then we had a lot of embryos and then began the process of me trying to get pregnant with those embryos and using them one by one with no success. And so at some point, the drugs were causing medical issues. My fibroids were growing dangerously close to my uterus.
My doctor wanted me to have surgery. The FIBRA surgery isn’t that bad, excepted you’re trying to have a baby. Then there’s a worry of scar tissue. So you need to have a very invasive procedure called a myomectomy, where I was very the details, but the agony of this was unbelievable.
SP: I’ve had a number of plants. You’ve gone through that, and it’s really awful for.
CW: Yeah, I’m told it’s worse than a C section on the part of it is a deception. And so I was doing the Mayo met me in the middle of this huge murder trial that actually went on for 18 months that I schedule because the judge said he was taking four weeks off in August, in the middle of this murder trial, went to the cottage. So I said, okay, I’ll have surgery for my holiday. And little did I know with the sensitivity I had drugs, but I would also be very sensitive to the narcotics post surgery.
So I was almost like a stroke victim for three to four weeks where I could barely speak. I spoke like this, searching for words, and the doctors all said it’ll wear off. So nobody was terribly concerned, except I couldn’t work. I would read case law, and I had no clue what I had just read. I could barely watch a TV show. I couldn’t comprehend anything. I was literally brain dead. And so my law partners were preventing me from stepping foot in the courtroom. So I lost a lot of income.
Well, it’s suffering physically, painfully. And my husband, of course, was watching all this and breaking inside, watching his wife suffer and just wanting to fix it, which of course he couldn’t. But yet I persevered. I was determined to have the babies. So I did more IVF until we used the embryos. And I think I woke up one day and I just knew it was time to move on to the next stage, which was served for us. So now we needed to find a servant and we had no more embryos.
I wrote to the donor and asked if she would consider another donation unbeknown to me. She had suffered tremendously after the retrieval with ovarian hyperstimulation, never told me the clinic never told me I was sick to my stomach, that she had gone through that and never, never centre, you know, flowers, even. Of course, that would been illegal. But I could have. And I would have if I had not. She was very unhappy with the clinic and had done a donation for another couple in the intern at a different clinic that she liked.
And so she was happy to do it again for me. If I went to this new clinic, I was more than happy to do that. So we switch clinics.
SP: So now we had to go through all the all the red tape all over again, just like when you end up in hospital and you got to tell the same story over and over and over again.
CW: Yeah. Which is annoying enough. But I wish that’s all it was, because this red tape takes months to get through. Not, you know, 20 more minutes of three nurses times an hour. So, yeah, this took months and months and months of delay. And you just want to be a parent yesterday and every minute of the year, every month seems like an eternity when you’re in this boat. So eventually we get there and we’re looking for a survey. And we’re told the clinic there’s really only one agency wrap that time.
I do people who have done this and they have been with this agency and they had a lovely experience. So we signed up and they introduced me to the lawyer they said was the best in the country. And there were very few lawyers who practised in this area. And we met with her and she showed me this legislation called the Assisted Human Reproduction after Canada. And so I went home and read it.
SP: The lawyer, of course.
CW: You read the criminal lawyer who helped write legislation for the Department of justice frequently in the criminal code, read this and said, when does this mean this is completely unconstitutional? Voice from vagueness. I don’t understand any of it. And I’m quite certain that no one in the Department of justice and Canada has ever read, let alone amended any of it who wrote it. And it was all the Department of Health and. Well, you know, so I just did to square. How is it I was responsible for this disaster.
And so it began the legal element of this for me. And eventually, you know, we began looking for a surrogate. The agency was not able to help us in a positive way. And our lawyer, after two years, suggested I look for servit on Craigslist, which is an online business newspaper on Craig’s list. Yeah. So I thought, well, you might sell your car or look for a dining room set, but this was a pretty awful idea to find a surrogate. But the world kind of knows that point.
Lawyers make the worst clients. And I didn’t want to be the worst clients. So I decided to follow up her advice. And I placed the ad and we got one hit. One woman responded to our adult Craigslist. I went to meet her. She lived only an hour and a half of Toronto. She had a lovely home for young children. The house was faultless. They were lovely people. The kids were well, they were very polite. We really headed off. And we thought, wow, Lady Luck is smiling on us.
And no one told me much more. She went for screening. She passed screening. The donor said she would do it again. At that point, I decided this woman needed to be sinked personally. So she became a non donor and we met and still began the beginning of an amazing relationship with her. I sort of think of her as a younger sister in some respects. She’s just a very special person. I don’t have a name that goes donor into objective and called. I don’t call her the mother of my children or their biological parents, but she is so special in our hearts.
She just is.
SP: It’s an extraordinary, extraordinary thing, isn’t it? When someone denies the genetic material and particularly a theorem, a woman potentially puts their lives at risk. And you said yourself the first time around, you didn’t know she had this risk this for help.
CW: And she is just the most extraordinary, wonderfully, warm, adorable person. And there’s so little in life I wouldn’t do for her. And so what turned out to be the best thing I ever did for myself and for my children, I’ve learned in life is to have a non done. And I do want to come back and talk about that as the children grow up, because I think those are important things. We don’t know those things when we’re making babies. None of us knows what it means to be a parent until it happens.
A privileged club being really awakening experience sponsibility and really learning that you don’t count anymore. You put their interests ahead of yours. It’s such a huge thing that you can’t imagine until you’re doing it. And so you have to with this. And so the donor and gave the eggs. We had new embryos. The we did the live transfer back then, and the rest of the embryos were frozen in pairs as well. And our circuit got pregnant right away. It was a weekend when the clinic called on Friday to say the test was positive.
But of course, they don’t call it a pregnancy until they do a step in blood test the day in between. So they were trying to reach her to schedule that from Monday, and we couldn’t reach her all weekend. He left numerous messages for her. And then she left the Sunday night vitriolic message for me as well as for the nurses, the clinic. It was super crazy. I thought I realised, oh, my God, there’s something not right. And I told myself she’s just upset. Just a one-off.
But I knew deep down inside, my instinct told me.
SP: This is not normal and this isn’t just four months from pregnancy.
CW: This is something that I’d be pregnant, right?
CW: And my instincts told me something was wrong and it’s a criminal lawyer of seeing a lot of crazy. So I kind of knew it, but I didn’t want to believe it in this case. And with the next few weeks, it became very clear to me within three to four weeks of the pregnancy, she stopped communicating altogether with the clinic, barely communicated with us. I did my own diagnosis of pathological liar, had many clients to work, and then I had to be a Mama there because now we were pregnant and I have this carrying my baby.
And I knew how to deal with that personality trade with my clients, but they’re subjectively as far away from me. I go home at night and it’s their problem if they don’t listen to me and they spend the rest of their life in jail.
SP: And the menu is pregnant with your child.
CW: Very different. And I had to figure that one out. Plus being emotionally involved and being a criminal lawyer. So I was almost acting for myself, which is a big note note, and I had no support because no one could understand. None of my friends who are amazing could really understand this crazy situation. None of them, thankfully, in it. So again, lots of therapy. But I was being told that this has never happened. My lawyer could Don do anything. This has never happened. This was over twelve years ago.
My daughter’s twelve and a half to date. This is still known as one of the worst der future Neeson Canada. I didn’t want that Crown, by the way. I’d hopefully give it to someone else, but I still carried the Crown. The worst service in Canada. The cells lining.
SP: So mentally, it’s make this plan surrogacy duties in Canada typically go really smoothly.
CW: Yes, they do of them except mine. And, you know, a few glitches. Some of them have glitches. But this was horrendous. The silver linings were that I was very well known from the lawyer, very well respected. So I was able to get help from the police, investigators, prosecutors. I had a lot of people watching. And so I felt that my baby was careful with being watched and she would be careful. I also I was told by the medical people looking after her that there was no harm to the foetus.
This was a textbook grow pregnancy. So I had some relief about that, but I never knew. I mean, she could have divided to abort one day without telling me, because we can do that. I had to be on tippy toes all the time on eggs.
SP: Of course, she has bodily autonomy.
CW: She has control a right I fought hard for, by the way, Canadians.
SP: I should say so.
CW: Boy, here it’s essential that I wanted her to have for all women, but not in my particular pain. So I struggled with that too. And then I have my husband who it’s very mild mannered about life in general. This was all foreign to him, and he was completely freaked it and left it all up to me to try to this. But she’s still crushed by this. When you mentioned her name, he still shakes. We got through it. She would say she had cancelled appointment. There was no ultra stand.
We would go. She’d show up like I knew what to do. I knew it was Li. Li. Li. What colour is your shirt, Stephen? Right now you’re wearing a blue checked shirt. She would say red for no reason. The colour of your shirt is irrelevant to the pregnancy. She would just lie. What kind of serial suspects should lie? Doctor’s appointment? Yes, more relevant. She lied. But then she’d see this. And so she wasn’t doing anything well, other than the lion and pathological. She could not help herself.
And there were moments of listed at had four children. So I also felt horrible for her. I had empathy for her family, for her, in her moments of lucidity. It had to be help. She didn’t want to be this way. And obviously some terrible trauma happened to her in her life that I never knew of it. But I felt for this family. And she had a pretty narrative world husband that turned out. And I just was heartbroken for these beautiful children. And so I did what I do best, which is I give.
And I said, how can I help? Let me get you a cell phone. Let me get you this. Let me get you that the car broke down. It was actually confiscated as UN groupe roadworthy should lie about that. Let me help you buy a car. I’ll probably illegal activity for me, but I found the fact such that she needed a car to get to the doctor’s appointment to the clinic.
SP: But this is not any [inaudible], but this is reality.
CW: Are me for having the pregnant woman in a safe vehicle when she has three-hour car drive to the clinic and then back.
SP: You don’t want to stuck in the middle of nowhere and then giving birth.
CW: So my lawyer was saying, this is all illegal and I’m going to put it in the contract. I’m doing it, and I will make it legal and I will fight it. And so I was telling my lawyer what to do. And it was very frustrating. It on the lens. And she, of course, surge had her own lawyer, who was completely freaked out about all of it and useless. So I discovered that they had never had an uphill journey. You can measure your success very easily. If nothing ever goes wrong in life, you can say I’m number one.
But to me, the measure of success is how you clean up a mess. And in criminal law, you have that opportunity daily. You always have witnesses to go, son, find you in the courtroom unexpectedly. And you have two sections to fix that.
CW: One, you have to think on your feet. And so I could measure success easily. But I was gassed by this entire process. The lawyers, the agencies the clinics, the law, all of it was a disaster to me. And I thought, every day, this has to change. Every day for nine months. This has to change was my mantra, among the other things I was going through, but I wasn’t putting together what I was going to do. I just do. It had to change. And finally, after so much that I can’t even get into and so much that I had to do that I will never share with people publicly.
But that I was able to do. Edna was born and she was perfectly house and perfect, wonderful. And they brought her out at 37 weeks because the doctor was it was before Christmas. The doctor wanted her on her last day call to be there for the crisis that would otherwise sue, because the doctor knew what was going on. And as safe as it was, was 37 weeks last day. But the doctor was on call before Christmas. So December 7, 2008, our Princess came and she was just perfect, perfectly healthy, small but healthy and wonderful.
And we were discharged the next day, right away. Within the hour, I brought her into the circus room to say thank you and had her home say goodbye. You the anger, the hurt melts away because you’ve got your perfect baby in your arms. And circuit stayed overnight. So in the morning, I asked the nurse to let me know before she was discharged so I could visit again. And I made my husband go with me and he said, thank you. And she held her again. And I knew we weren’t going to have a relationship.
We needed to get the paperwork done for the registration. That was going to be hard enough. But I did what I had to do to get that done. And I won’t share that. But, you know, within the hour of Edis birth, right after that visit, I turned to my husband and that said, absolutely, no one in this country should have to go through something like this to be a parent, not in this country. This has to change. And I’ve just decided it’s going to and watch out.
Brussel Sprout 1 hour after birth, I became a fertility lawyer. That was the moment when her in my arms, right after the hub of the surrogate. This is going to change. And so began the journey. And, you know, I couldn’t protest. I had to get a birth certificate. My husband, you know, worships the donor. He needed the tax percentages. So I couldn’t delay and fight the law. I had to go register this horribly insensitive way, which the lawyer also said, explain to me I would be going to family court, a place that criminal lawyers to test, traditionally asking some family.
SP: I can say that’s the same in Australia, too.
CW: That’s everywhere, like engineers and lawyers. But it was in law, family criminal. I like, how can you do that?
SP: Why are you doing that something wrong with you.
CW: So I was being asked to go to Family Court where a judge didn’t know me, to ask a judge to name me as the mother of my husband’s child. And I hit a roof, almost literally. And I said, at that point, I was 47 years old. I have been a criminal defence lawyer for 20 years, more than half my life. And I devoted to justice to make this country better. And this was the first time I knocked on the door of justice for me and it slammed in my face.
And I went, Are you kidding me? This will change. And so I began the process of changing the birth registration process and the recognition. And so we have the laws that say that we are parents at birth, if you have a service, the agreement with lawyers and all the safety that’s in the agreement and that’s really important to me. And and I befriended the Registrar when I had to register the birth because the forms were archaic and it’s nonsensical. And, you know, my lawyer wrote as David for my declaration, and I read these aidaid that were my story.
And I said, I don’t understand my own [inaudible]. This is horribly written. So I rewrote my whole application. Then I called my favourite criminal law judge, Brian Trafford, less than my favourite and said, you need to do my declaration of parentage. I’m not doing this in Family Court with some strangers. And he opened up the largest courtroom in Toronto, the one for the huge jury panels of 1000 people. And we had every judge prosecutor. We had over 50 people come, we had champagne. And you wrote this ten page statement because it’s not a judgement.
And he wrote about ETA’s rights, her human rights as a child to be recognised like no other child. And no one had ever until that moment spoken about the children that way. And that’s what I brought to the table that first change. And Brian Trafford was a judge who was so well respected that when he uttered those words, everyone said, yeah, we need to do something. He’s right.
SP: He’s right. The focus is often on the surrogate, isn’t it? And surrogates are extraordinary women. But too often the focus of the law, as you point out, hasn’t been on the child.
CW: And that actually is the best legal argument that we’ve made in Canada for any progressive change, including prohibition and decriminalisation. We don’t talk about the adults. But when you talk about the baby and the rights of the baby, people listen. And I can bring a full circle to what happened with Covet when Canada said, We’ve got to get the parents into the country for the babies. The Prime Minister in Cabinet were up all night changing the law for the likes of form adults all over the world.
Now, maybe. And babies deserve it. Their parents were foreigners. Therefore, we have to get them in?
CW: So that’s what it was. And that’s how we worked it. So together we created this process slowly. And it’s always been about that. And then when the Ontario law changed to have automatic recognition with administrative registration years later and below, to me, the forms changed. Nobody told us. And they actually had a question on the form saying, Is this the story that you birth yet? No. And I hit the roof again. I use stamping these children from Serpico keepers. And this form comes back signature stamped as your long form birth certificate, which at the time you needed for the passport.
So it was used to get a passport, which means the passport information on the computer system, not in the physical passport, but in the computers. When scanned, these children watch the lot.
And nobody saw that. But me, everyone going in statistics. We understand the statistics. And yes, Canada has to report serve up the World Health Organisation, maternal foetal health, all very important. But there was another way to do that, specifically, since one of the forms registers called the statue to a declaration by as the phone of a live. So you have a form signed by the surrogate, don’t you know, it’s the service papers. And you have all these records at the hospital. You have so many ways of putting in a piece of paper to the World Health Organisation.
It was a service person. And this is how much baby wait. And it was all good. So that we held a meeting with the Registrar general and stuff. And I screamed at Yale and said I was very, very emotional limit. And the baby and they change the form give because of that, and they can keep their staff with that. So there is no paperwork that’s registered that’s public that says donor or surrogate in Canada, nobody would know unless you choose. So of course, I’m very vocal about my my children are her has to be the most famous services egg donor babies in the universe, probably even though I fought for their Privacy so much.
But as I say, it’s my private right. It’s their private right. Not to it’s no one to just decide it. And so we also have a process with our courts where we would have the records sealed, although a lot of judges aren’t about publication bands and ceiling orders. But it is available. And I’ve had this debate with journalists who say why at least things should be public record. We should be able to go to the courthouse and look at all the applications for circus declarations. And I said, what is the national interest in knowing how my baby was born?
Is there a national interest in me knowing how you concede your child? I’d like to see a video of you and your husband having sex. Then every time you know, there’s no national interest as saying that with a strike price, I did. And it was a very legitimate argument. It shut them up. And there is international interest. What is the national interest is that it can be dead. Not that I hadn’t done that you hadn’t done, or anyone in particular. It is done, and it is legal.
SP: And that and that the child’s rights to Privacy are protected.
CW: That is a great national interest. And unless the child has apparent like me, who the private interest very public. They mostly are very private. And so that’s sort of how it began for me in the twelve years that I’ve been practising in this deal, because I’ve always been lobbying for the change and making it more public. Even though demanding Privacy, my practise has just grown. My firm is the largest, busiest for Delity law firm in Canada. I’ve still devoted to public change. You know, I like being public about my journey for a number of reasons.
It helps other people. I’ve learned that. But the selfish rate was to make life normal for my children. The more people who do something, the less abnormal, if it’s to a point where who cares? And one of the things I like to describe this process of family making, as in Canada, it’s like going to your huge grocery store and going to the dairy Department and looking at the the fridge with the various types of milk and other milk type products. There are there are, like 50 to a hundred different products out there, and we don’t all have to drink them.
And I don’t care for almond milk. I drink soy milk. And my children have 2% milk, and people give their kids chocolate milk and the goat milk. And there’s cashew milk and there’s whatever milk you like. And I’m glad I’m glad there’s a choice of milk for everything. And when I have guests, I’m happy to buy six different kinds to accommodate a host full of guests when that date can happen again. So it’s a beautiful world that there’s so many products out there, and family making in so many ways is great.
And my children were made their way, but we’re still a family. And that’s what candidates about. And so I’ve been able to use those arguments to effect change. And the other thing that works politically is money, birth registration, administrative la costs going to miss far less money than using a court in the judge’s time. And the judges were all for best. As much as they love doing this precious work, they were busy, and they were like every morning they were spending an hour with Boyer doing six decorations.
And it was lovely, certainly better than going into family court for the rest of the day. I’ll go back to that. But they had to do that work, and it was time consuming. So it’s a win win, and it’s still available for foreign clients who need a court order, so they still get to do them. So I’m seeing the provinces make those changes. I can’t infect them in other provinces politically, but I can be allowed voice. And I have a colleague in Alberta who I am shaming into trying in making this change as an shaming way because we’re friends.
But, you know, she has to push this because it’s just the right way to do it. Thinking about the children and in some problems like AlfordA is considered unwhy politically. The fight in the current administration. But I think even this administration would agree that the children should be treated better and would consider it so that’s my goal is to keep pushing profits. Why Canada wise? And so with Coven, when we had the Immigration Act changed to allow foreigners in for the birth, they had to first change was that parents could come in to unify with their babies.
But these weren’t people yet because they weren’t for it. And we needed you here before the birth because it was a two week quantity. And babies come early. So we actually need you here separate.
SP: I often do that that they do.
CW: And so we had a conundrum because baby is not born in Canada. It’s not a person. Therefore, you’re not a parent of a person. So they had to make a second amendment that says you are considered a parent for a service of birth in advance. Very scary amendment because we are very careful about our abortion laws. We are calling that fee as a person ever. So they’ve worked super hard on those amendments for all of those reasons. And the Department of justice was very much involved in this one, for sure.
And it was, well, worded and carefully worded. And I knew for nine days what was going on. It was all climbs in. And I didn’t breathe for nine days during that period. You and I spoke a lot during that. Good. We did me and pyjama an Friday night, Saturday morning. So I remember that I was pulling my hair out. And so a month later, I got contacted by the Ministry official. She says, I want you to watch the news at 10:00 this morning. This one’s on you.
You. And they changed the immigration act again. They did a complete overview of it since they started looking at it. And there was a law in Canada that said that you have been by abroad. You can only bring it home and give a Canadian citizenship if you yourself are natural born Canadian. So I could have if I was the genetic mother of a baby born in Kenya through Surrogacy, I could give a Canadian citizenship. But in my case, I wouldn’t have been able to do surrogacy abroad.
And we give a Canadian citizenship, although my husband put him and there are people who didn’t know that. Then there’s the person who says I am a Canadian and I am the sperm donor arrived donor, but they realise their Canadian because of their parents. They weren’t born here. They could not give citizenship. So we had a few of these situations arise where the government had to step in and use extraordinary means to grant citizenship against the law and with a veto power and very political means.
And it sometimes took a long time. And there was the scandalous situation in India years ago. It took family ten years. So they looked at what was going on with the service amendment is that it’s time to fix, as Bindi says, it’s about the Canadian baby. And so they amended it again that day in April to say you no longer need a genetic connection to be considered a parent in Canada. This one brought me to my need because I’m not the genetic parent of my children.
And I was granted status as a parent by disgusting all. And I shouldn’t have to be granted. It should have been. And we have provinces that’s been demand therapy and genetic connection that is now unconstitutional because of federal losses. No, it’s not. And so I am desperate for the lawyers and those problems to bring those arguments and I’m finding my way to push it. But having just turned 60, I am getting tired. So I pick my battles. But my profence is very progressive and that won’t change.
So the journey was enormous for me at so many levels. So much came out of that roof. I made lemonade big time. And.
SP: And what’s playing is that your what started out as a personal journey became a professional journey and passion not only for your children but for others. To make sure that.
CW: It’s enormous, what happened. I’ve travelled to so many countries to speak about my journey and surrogacy law in Canada and have seen people cry in my arms and say thank you. And for many, I’m the first person who gets it in their lives. I’m the person that I didn’t have. And so I get that. And my story was published in the major magazine here when Ed was five. So eight years ago, the most incredible thing that I never imagined when I did this story was that a couple read it.
Their surrogate was then 32 weeks present and they read it line by line, five pages and wondered how I knew what was going on in their services. It was identical every single bit. And so they contacted me through the journalist and it turned out they had the same surrogate in cinema. Right? Logical. And she is a allergy Paediatric specialist and he’s a corporate lawyer, one of the humongous corporate law firms. So again, not vulnerable people, generally intelligent people, completely freaked out. And I guided them through the next eight weeks of their pregnancy.
I told them everything that was going to happen as it was happening. It was uncanny. And because it’s a small world in Tron of the city of 4 million. They happen to live only a few blocks away from me and go to the same farmers market is the park that we do. So our children have grown up as roommates. And I was able to guide them for the second baby through to an agency. And because, of course, they had a lawyer. I acted for this that could circuit who was beautiful, and I got to be part of their legal process as well.
So it was lovely. I never dreamed that I would be able to help so directly a couple going through the same nightmare. So I share the worst journey with other people. I might say I should correct that, but they’ve ended up with at least eight weeks of it coldness. I be careful finding a surrogate online.
SP: Well, on that extraordinary note, I think we’ll finish. We’re well and truly over it what was our time. And it is extremely late for you and in Toronto at the moment. But as always in, it has been a delight to talk with you today.
CW: Thank you so much.
SP: And you’ve been listening to the Australian Family Law and Fertility Law Podcast.
Outro: Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate reaching out to Stephen at pageprovan.com.au.