Woman’s Hour and birth certificates

Well, it looks like I’m live on Woman’s Hour tomorrow, Tuesday 15th November, 10 to 10.45am debating the on-going issue of whether or not the fact of donor conception should be included on children’s birth certificates.  Julia Feast from the British Association of Fostering and Adoption will be putting the case for giving access to non-biological parentage information (be it adoption or donor conception) via a birth certificate that would look the same for all babies, no matter how they were conceived.  If indeed the General Register Office would agree to change the system for everyone then I think it is unlikely DC Network would be against this in any way.  I certainly wouldn’t personally.  What had previously been suggested was that the long birth certificate should be used for information about donor conception, with the short one left to be used for official occasions.  However, this has now been ditched as unworkable because it infringes personal privacy, particularly as the long certificate is now demanded in many more instances, such as registering a child for a school place.

The reason why it was suggested in the first place that donor conception information should be on birth certificates was to force the hand of parents in telling their children about their origins.  Whilst DCN is totally pro openness and ‘telling’ most of our members were against the information being on a child’s birth certificate.  They felt that it compromised the privacy of their family and more particularly that of their child, who should be able to choose as an adult who needed to have this information.  DCN also felt that it would not aid parents in telling their children at all.  Those who had had their eyes opened to the benefits of openness would not need it and those convinced that no-one should ever know would simply lie to the registrar.  This would make it very difficult for them to change their minds later – as many parents do – particularly if there was a chance they could be prosecuted for lying in the first place.  Our aim is not to use the sledge hammer of legislation to force ‘telling’ but to raise would-be parents consciousness to the importance of doing so and educate them in helpful ways to go about it.  Evidence seems to be that ‘telling’ is now the norm and non-tellers are very much in the minority and on the defensive back-foot.  Fertility Friends, the leading fertility web forum in the UK, divided it’s threads on Telling and non-Telling last year and it is interesting how even the mildest post on the non-telling thread suggesting that this may not be a good thing, gets a very defensive reply and then both posts are usually deleted.

To be honest I’m not sure Julia and I (we know each other very well) will find much to disagree about, but it will be a good opportunity to talk about the importance of openness…and I’m always up for one of those.

9.30 pm Monday:  The item has been postponed…not enough disagreement!


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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