Should birth certificates lie?

Mercatornet 28 July 2014
Does your birth certificate really tell the truth about your birth?

For most, the answer to this will of course be yes. But for some people, the answer will actually be no.

Emma Creswell is one of perhaps 70,000 children in Britain who have been born through donor conception and who have birth certificates that do not reflect their genetic parentage. She only found this out by chance. Her case was reported this weekend, after she won a six-year battle to have the name of the man she was brought up to believe was her father removed from her birth certificate, after discovering – during an argument – that he was not her genetic father after all.

Emma still does not know the identity of her genetic father so on her new birth certificate, where his name, occupation and date of birth should be, the boxes are blank.

Emma found out the truth about her ‘father’ when she was a teenager. But many more like her may never find out. Children can only find out about their origins if the parents who brought them up choose to tell them that they were donor conceived. And many parents of donor conceived children choose not to tell them about their genetic origins. It is often kept a secret, so many children still go through life not knowing who their real genetic father is (or mother, for egg donation). And they have birth certificates that do not tell them this.

Rachel Pepa, who also only found out as an adult that the man she always thought was her father was not, says:

“I absolutely, categorically think I should have been told as a child – as soon as I was old enough to process the information. It is such a fundamental piece of information to have about yourself – to know who your parents are. Sometimes I get angry thinking about it.”