Canadian man who had twin girls via surrogate in Kenya granted visas to bring them home
Toronto native Joseph Tito, who has been stuck in Kenya with his twin baby girls after a legal technicality around his own citizenship status prevented him from bringing them home, has been granted visas.
“We got our Visas!!! Thank God!” Tito told Global News on Monday.
Tito wanted to become a father but found the experience to do so difficult in North America.
Tito said he found surrogacy prices in Canada could surpass US$120,000, though most of the estimates on surrogacy information websites, such as sensiblesurrogacy.com, fall within the C$70,000 to C$100,000 range.
So he turned for help to an India-based fertility clinic, the Kiran Infertility Center.
Through Kiran, Tito was matched with a surrogate mother in Kenya and a year and a half later, his girls were born in Mombasa, Kenya.
Tito said he paid approximately US$60,000 (C$81,000) for the procedure in Kenya, which covered five embryo transfers as well as attorneys and DNA tests.
WATCH: Why one woman wants to be a surrogate mother
However, what should have been a joyous occasion turned into a “nightmare” for Tito, who was unable to bring his new family home due to a technicality with his own citizenship status.
The rule that prevented him from bringing his girls back to Canada can be found in the Citizenship Act, which was amended in 2015 to state that a baby born outside of Canada to a Canadian citizen automatically receives citizenship status, but that this perpetuity ends after the first generation.
Tito was born in Italy and came to Canada when he was five. Therefore, because neither he nor his children were born in Canada, the twins are not automatically extended Canadian citizenship
“Canadian citizens can pass their citizenship to their genetically related children born abroad, but there is a one-generation limit. If he is the parent who obtained citizenship by being born abroad to Canadian parents, he cannot then pass his Canadian citizenship to the babies,” immigration attorney Patricia Wells explained in an emailed statement.
A spokesperson for Canada’s immigration minister said he couldn’t comment on the matter specifically, but added that every case is treated “very seriously.”
“With any immigration case involving children, our first priority is to protect the safety and well-being of the children involved,” Mathieu Genest said via email on Sunday. “We understand that immigration decisions can have a serious impact on the lives of individuals and we work with all clients on a case by case basis to ensure that each case is treated fairly and in accordance to Canada’s laws.”
International surrogacy is a little-known but growing trend in the western world for hopeful parents looking for a less expensive alternative.
WATCH: Focus Montreal: Are Canada’s fertility laws outdated?
Tito said he knew about the law in advance but was assured by the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi that he had nothing to worry about.
Tito said he’ll be flying home with his baby girls Wednesday at around 3:30 p.m.
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