Agreement reached: Dutch children can have four parents
According to RTL Nieuws, which viewed a draft letter to parliament, the coalition parties have finally reached an agreement, after months of negotiations, on surrogacy and how to arrange custody for families that have more than two parents. The Council of Ministers will discuss the proposal on Friday.
Four parents possible in the Netherlands
Soon, Dutch children will be allowed to have four legally recognised parents. However, not all parents will be afforded the same rights. Non-biological parents will only be granted “partial custody”, meaning that they have more input than at present and can, for example, attend the child’s doctor’s appointments and be involved in choosing the school the child will go to, amongst other things. But should the official parents (the biological ones) die, the child will still become an orphan.
Currently, nothing has been laid down in the law for stepparents, foster parents or other family members. This causes a lot of problems and suffering for families in these structures. Whilst the proposed regulations are a big step forward from the current ones, Dutch LGBT advocacy organisation, COC, feels the notion of “partial custody” is worrying as it, “seems to suggest that in the future a child will still have two parents with full custody. The other parents will, therefore, remain [the] “lesser-parents”, with all the consequences that go with that,” states Nibbeling, chairman of the foundation.
Surrogacy in the Netherlands
At this moment in time, if a child is born via surrogacy, a judge determines who the parents are after birth. The government wants the parents to be registered before birth in the future. Before conception, agreements will need to be made, which will then be looked at by a judge to decide whether all conditions for surrogacy are met. One of these being that the surrogate mother and at least one of the to-be parents have the Dutch nationality and live in the Netherlands.
Moreover, a surrogacy register will be introduced to enable children born from surrogacy to find out whom their biological parents are, as their birth certificate will only contain the names of the “adoptive” parents. The surrogate mother is also allowed to terminate the surrogacy agreement via a judge up until the birth and shortly thereafter.
Commercial surrogacy in the Netherlands is illegal. Providing surrogate mothers with extra compensation on top of compensation for actual incurred costs is punishable. This measure has been taken to prevent “child-buying”.