Lawmakers in Rhode Island’s House and Senate passed landmark legislation recently designed to address and overcome hurdles same-sex couples and unmarried couples face in obtaining parental rights for their children conceived through assisted reproduction technology and surrogacy.
The Uniform Parentage Act, which was signed into law, will recognize intended and presumptive parents, eliminating the cumbersome, stressful, costly, and often demeaning process of having the child’s non-birth parent adopt the child through a court proceeding. Instead of requiring judicial action which could not begin until the child was at least six months old, the Uniform Parentage Act provides for voluntary acknowledgement of parentage when the child is born.
This new law is similar to Vermont’s parentage law. In addition to providing a path for parentage, the Act also establishes some surrogacy requirements, including an age requirement (21) and a mental health examination requirement. The Act also specifies requirements for valid surrogacy contracts between intended parents and gestational carriers.
In addition, the Act specifically includes a provision documenting that a sperm donor is not a parent, but does include guidance on how a child who was conceived using donated sperm can obtain information about their biological parent after reaching the age of 18. Under existing law, some parents were unable to complete the “secondary parent” adoptions for their children until they ran advertisements in the cities where the donated sperm originated, giving the biological father notice of termination of his parental rights.
The first update to Rhode Island’s parentage laws in more than 40 years, this legislation is – understandably – good news for intended parents in the state. The bill was championed for three years by state Representative Carol McEntee (D) who celebrated its passage. McEntee was quoted by the Providence Journal, saying “This is a big day for Rhode Island. A big day for families. A big day for kids… This act is for all families.”
To learn more about parental rights and assisted reproduction, contact The Surrogacy Law Center today!