Who a child’s parents are is a question that might be answered differently by a jurist than by the child concerned. Law directs us to look at particular rules to determine parentage. Yet these rules might not reflect actual relationships within families that extend care, nurturing and support to children, particularly when conception has occurred through assisted procreation. This work is prompted by the discordance between legal and social locations of parenthood in these contexts. Examining Canadian common law and Quebec civil law, it considers whether legal strictures imposed on families created through assisted reproduction hinders children from developing relationships that foster self-awareness and a meaningful sense of “place” within their communities. Part I of this paper considers the manner in which law searches for parents and finds them, discussing cultural and social forces at play in shaping parent-child relationships. Part II sets out a taxonomy for understanding law’s location of parenthood where children have been conceived through donated genetic material or surrogacy. Part III highlights factors that have driven these assessments of parental status, namely, biological connections, the intentions of participants in assisted procreation arrangements, and social relationships formed with the children produced by such arrangements. Potential difficulties with relying on these factors are identified, signaling the need for a more coherent and equitable framework for determinations of parental status.
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