Are child rights included in “Universal Human Rights”?
The primary objective of this article is to establish equal child rights. Unfortunately, most places in the world impose the parents’ rights onto the child. If all children are born equal then why don’t laws support that? Technology is changing and we cannot have archaic 20th century laws. We need to have laws from a child’s perspective and not based on parent’s gender. Today, as countries like US who allow adoption by Lesbians and Gays or countries like UK considering to allow IVF/surrogacy by Gays or Lesbians or countries like India, Nepal and Australia among others who allow legal recognition of third gender thus giving them civil rights, we hope that the leaders of the world are thinking ahead and ensuring equal rights for children on their own without imposition of their parent’s gender. We understand this is new territory and only honest discussion and truth will bring change. We are more interested in a solution than anything else. We have absolute confidence that the changes we are asking for is a question of WHEN and not IF, so why punish innocent children in the meantime. Truth will prevail.
It is absolutely indisputable that the siblings were meant to be together. Because of in vitro fertilization (IVF), unlike other 99% of siblings, the situation is very unique. Click here to learn about the possibilities of an IVF parent. Do we have laws to cover each use case? There was every INTENTION to have the siblings together by the intended parent. To state the facts, Medhavi was 6 months term pregnant in a surrogate’s womb when the divorce was filed. Everyone had an intention to have the brother and sister to grow up together. So why are they growing up separately?
If a father has rights to a child as a parent, if a mother has rights to a child as a parent, what rights do siblings have? Does a brother have right to grow up with his sister? Does a sister have a right to grow up with her brother? Is it a crime to abandon an IVF child who is a girl child born in India? Is it a crime against the child (both the brother and the sister) to intentionally separate siblings? To be blunt, had the two IVF siblings been born to a common biological mother, is there a power in this world who could even think of separating the siblings? As a father, we have to fight just for acknowledgement first and then a solution. Why punish the siblings because of their biological parent’s gender? What have they done wrong? Can we do better as a society?
There are public policy issues in this unique and rare case. Two siblings were born in India through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the biological father’s sperm, an anonymous egg donor and surrogate in India and both children are Indian citizens. The only known biological parent of both the biological siblings is their father. Whose rights will the innocent siblings inherit? Unfortunately the father because of his gender, a male, has very few parental rights. Does this mean the same will be imposed on the innocent siblings because they are IVF children and not natural born children? Let us discuss that. The innocent children should inherit truth and equality, not hypocrisy.
Science and Sensitivity – Mars Trip
We want to explore space and get to Mars. Humans have already established we can land on Mars but no humans yet. We want it to be safe since humans are involved. Why can’t we have the same level of sensitivity and science when placing an infant with an intersex person undergoing controversial medical treatment which causes depression, irritability, mood swings, aggression among other issues. The issue is not whether an intersex person can be a parent, the issue is with timing and accepting the medical treatment and its facts. Don’t we want our innocent children to be safe on Earth? Or are we forgetting to use science and sensitivity in our zeal to deal with the traumatic situation of intersex and infertility in an adult patient?
The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Bob Dylan. Are we ready to change with the times?
|Child's Needs||If Father Abandoned Natural Pregnancy||If IVF Child Abandoned During Pregnancy|
|Equal rights and laws||Yes||No|
|Needs Love, Trust, And Care||Yes||Yes|
|Needs Food, Home, Clothes, Toys, etc.||Yes||Yes|
|Long-term needs in development, education, stability, family||Yes||Yes|
|Family and friends help left-behind parent to raise the child||Yes||Yes|
|Left-behind parent may change career paths to care for the child resulting in added financial burden||Yes||Yes|
|Severe trauma when first discovered abandonment||Yes||Yes|
1) Prevailing laws – Since the existence of humans for over 10000 years, it is a built-in assumption that children come from mothers/females. This “built-in” assumption has been used to write prevailing laws. With the advent of infertility technological advancements, like IVF, today it is possible for a father to have children as the only known biological parent. Have the laws kept pace?
2) Social Acceptance – Traditionally, mothers are the natural caregivers for children. There is a change going on. Gay fathers, IVF fathers, straight fathers are taking on more responsibility at home including being the primary care providers for their children. With all due respect to all the great mothers, these fathers love their child NO LESS and would do anything for their child like any passionate parent. Is the society ready to accept that? Further, is the society ready to change the laws to reflect its acceptance?
3) Lack of Laws – Due to the “built-in” assumptions and lack of social acceptance, the innocent children of IVF fathers, gay fathers, straight fathers are unduly treated by the unequal laws against their biological parent, a male. Sometimes in case of IVF fathers, like in this case, their only known biological parent. Would the same siblings be growing up apart if they were born of the same mother after all the IVF struggles of infertility? Then why punish the innocent siblings, it is NOT their fault to be growing up apart.
What Can We Do About Equal Child Rights?
1) International Convention on Rights of a Child (CRC) – We want all the countries in the world to ratify and accept it. As of this writing, there are only two countries in the world who have NOT ratified or accepted the CRC – USA and Somalia. USA is a world leader and we expect no less other than strong leadership. Why not give equal rights to an innocent child? The people of US are generous and understanding. Once they get to know the facts, they will also rally behind this. It is about doing the right thing.
2) Change – It is understood that the US Immigration Laws are an internal matter to the US but US is a world leader and we expect nothing less than strong leadership from the US. We are asking for two changes in US Immigration Law (7 FAM 1131.4 and its sub-sections) :
a) Change the phrase from “biological mother/father” to “parent”.
b) Change the phrase from “child born out of wedlock” to “child born”.
As per 7 FAM 1131.4-2 of US Immigration Law, it clearly stipulates the conditions in case of an IVF child. Of the two different use cases cited in the law, either the egg or the womb came from a US citizen mother. Neither captures the use case where only the biological father is a US citizen and both the surrogate and the egg donor have no legal standing in the US.
“Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter”. – US President Barack Obama famously said in his 2008 campaign
By stating the “child born out of wedlock” we are implicitly taking away legal rights of an innocent child and that too a new-born infant, a time of extreme joy rather than dealing with trauma. Or we need to provide equal rights to the child as if the child was born during a marriage. We are working with age-old “built-in” assumptions. How will gay fathers get rights for their child? How will straight IVF fathers get rights for their child? Or is the message that as a society we think its too premature to have fathers raising children?
3) Spirit of the Law – As per 7 FAM 1131.4 of US Immigration Law, it is very clear that biological lineage is the most important factor when establishing US Citizenship for a child. The spirit of the law is to NOT split biological families. What happens when the only known biological parent is a father, a male?
4) Change – We are asking for a change of one word – from “mother” to “parent” as cited in 9 FAM 42.1 N2.1 and 9 FAM 42.1 N1.1. This part of the US Immigration Law deals with the situation when a child is born outside the US to a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)/green card parent. Unfortunately unlike US Citizenship laws which explicitly deal with IVF related pregnancies, there is NO equivalent of that for US LPRs/green card parents. As a result, a green card father has to utilize this archaic law which was probably written when IVF did not exist or was not as prevalent. What about gay fathers or straight fathers on green card in the USA who have children born out of IVF outside the USA? And do the innocent children deserve to be split from their biological family – a direct contradiction of US spirit of the law. US is a world leader and we expect no less other than strong leadership.
5) STOP manipulation of loopholes in US Immigration Laws – STOP people from using the loopholes in the law to alienate children from their only known biological families including siblings. Maybe the US laws were written when IVF was either not available or prevalent and so the circumstances were not thought of. However, the reality is different and the laws need to catch up as per the US Embassy’s own report. In the meantime, what should the system do when intelligent people use the loopholes in the law for their selfish advantage? USA is a world leader and we expect no less other than strong leadership.
6) Left-behind IVF child law – The needs of an IVF child are NO DIFFERENT than a natural born child. An IVF child also needs love, care, clothes, food, shelter, books, toys, education, and so on. If an intended parent abandons an IVF pregnancy or IVF child at birth, they should be held accountable and responsible because the IVF child’s needs are EQUAL.
It is illegal to have an abortion at 6 months term unless the mother or child’s life is in danger. It is illegal to throw a newborn in a trash can. But there are NO LEGAL CONSEQUENCES if an intended parent abandons an IVF child? What is the IVF child’s fault? If this jolts you, it should. This is the first step in education and raising awareness to wake up to the ugly realities and truth around us.
As Erin Brockovich famously said, “Don’t tell me to not make it personal…”. Subject of child rights is very personal and very emotional. Just ask any parent – mother or father. Let us build bridges rather than walls. Ask any pregnant mother and you will get the truth about child rights.
What is so special about an IVF pregnancy?
1) First, IVF is NOT a baby making machine. An IVF child is just as much a human as anyone else and should have equal rights like a natural born child.
2) Second, an IVF pregnancy requires co-ordination, efforts, assistance, finances and above all blessings from multiple people and agencies. With current success ratio of about 33% for IVF pregnancies resulting in children, it is a very emotional, traumatic, anxious time for an IVF family.
3) Third, a person becomes an IVF parent because of infertility issues which in itself is very traumatic to deal with. There should be no added burden on an IVF family with UNEQUAL LAWS for the IVF child and family.