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Cork women become first same-sex couple to both register as parents of newborn

‘It is monumental for us and a historic step towards LGBT+ equality,’ says couple

Niamh O’Sullivan and Geraldine Rea with twin girls Réidín and Aoibhín who were born on February 4th. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy

Two women from Cork have become the first same-sex couple in Ireland to be able to both register as parents of their newly born twins.

Geraldine Rea and Niamh O’Sullivan, who are both in their early 30s, became parents to twin girls, Réidín and Aoibhín, when Geraldine gave birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital on February 4th following donor sperm treatment at the Waterstone Clinic.

Ms O’Sullivan explained that the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 came into effect last May and it meant both she and Geraldine, who married in 2018, could both be recorded on the twins’ birth certificates, ensuring they both have the same legal rights as parents.

“We were delighted when the legislation was enacted in May last year at a time when we were dreaming of becoming parents as it allows for same-sex female couples to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children,” said Ms O’Sullivan, a special needs assistant from Bishopstown.

The new legislation means that the birth mother and the intending co-parent, be they spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, can now register with the registrar for the births, deaths and marriages as the parents of a child born as a result of a donor-assisted human reproduction procedure.

Restrictions

Ms O’Sullivan added: “Little did we know then that fate would lead us to being the first to benefit from this new law. It is monumental for us and a historic step towards LGBT+ equality, as many children with same-sex female parents can finally vindicate their right to have their family recognised.”

Ms Rea, who hails originally from Turners Cross, explained how they had been due to have the frozen embryo transfer at the Waterstone Clinic in Cork in March 2020 only for the Government to introduce the first Covid-19 lockdown on the week that the procedure was scheduled.

“We were rescheduled and thanks to good timing and the hard work of the team at the clinic, the transfer took place two days after restrictions were lifted for fertility clinics, and we finally became pregnant,” said Ms Rea, an Irish teacher.

“We thought we were just having one baby – we only discovered we were having twins at our six-week scan so it was a lovely surprise but it was still early days at that point so we didn’t know it was going to be a sure thing but thankfully everything went well.”

Hospitalised

Ms Rea had severe morning sickness for the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy and had to be hospitalised for a period but the last 17 weeks or so of the pregnancy were easier and she gave birth to the twins with Niamh present throughout the labour.

“Réidín was 6lb 12oz when she was born and Aoibhín was 6lb 10oz when she was born so they were both very big for twins. I had them naturally but it wasn’t that long a labour – I was induced at 7pm and I had them by 1.30am the next day,” said Ms Rea.

“When we started going through this process, we just made the assumption that we would be able to put both of our names on the birth certificate because we assumed the legislation was fully enacted when the referendum passed in 2015 but it actually took a long while to take effect.

“It was only when we started nearing the end of the pregnancy and we started doing research on what we needed to do – we realised we could be one of the first to get both our names on the birth cert and not have to go to court to both be recognised as parents so that was nice.”