Advanced search

Question about birth certificates

(19 Posts)
umbel Wed 11-Sep-19 07:50:09

This question came to me kind of on the back of thinking about the Seahorse documentary and related legal battle that Freddie is undertaking to be named as the father of the child they birthed, rather than the mother:

When someone gets a GRC they get a new birth certificate, right? Is it in any way distinguishable from a standard birth certificate, in the way that adoption certificates are (where adoptive parents are listed as mother and father, but the certificate itself is a 'Certificate of Adoption' rather than a 'Certificate of Birth').

If it is marked in some way as different, then does this become the only route for a child like Freddie's to discover who birthed them (i.e. that their father is actually their mother)?

There's other inconsistencies here, as others have previously pointed out, where children are donor conceived. Donor is not listed and not indicated by any kind of differentiation in the certificate so although parents are encouraged to tell children they are donor conceived and donors can be traced after the child reaches 18, if parents decide to withhold that information, the child may never find out.

Sorry, not sure that was a coherent question, but it's an interesting area.

FannyCann Wed 11-Sep-19 08:19:22

I think birth certificate are rapidly becoming pointless with all the various legal challenges, rules vary around the world obv but people born of surrogates in different jurisdictions may have just their father(s) listed for instance, or the surrogate's name but as a donor egg has been used there is no indication of that.

I thought the point of a birth certificate was a statement of fact - a certain person, born on a certain day in a certain place to particular parents but I'm clearly well out of date.

As regards getting a GRC I'm surprised no parents have challenged this. I can understand obv that to do so would be going against one's child with all the potential for massive family argument and probably most parents try to be seen to be understanding if they want to remain in contact with their child, so I dare say that is why. But if one of my daughters wanted a new birth certificate stating they were born male I absolutely would challenge it - this is my history too, I gave birth to a daughter and that is a fact. It's a bit like the trans widows having their history wiped, it happens to the parents too. It would be interesting if there was a test case.

MsMelanie Wed 11-Sep-19 08:43:59

I cannot answer the birth certificate question but have two friends both of whom conceived via donor - one sperm and the other via egg.

The egg donor chose not to have open donor ie donors details are not disclosable at 18. She intends never to tell. But the reality is that this is out of her hands. Myself and many others take the DNA testing which inevitably links you to blood relations so it only takes a simple test for the lie to crumble.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-19 08:51:01

It seems that birth certificates need fundamentally redesigning to cope with medical advances, same sex couples and gender reassignment (though maybe we should have an adult identity document separate from the birth very to cope with name changes).

Nowadays with electronic forms with fields that are hidden unless required this should be possible. Example below...I'll see if I can put the options in italics ... This is just meant as a rough idea of the sort of thing that could be done. The form could be quite complicated as it's filled in by a professional. Different versions could be printed for different purposes; Many wouldn't need the full parentage details, DRB check &courts would require birth name and sex, while other times it might be ok to just show the gender and new name. In the majority of cases it would look much like it does now.

Name chosen by individual (footnote - this can only be specified >18 by the individual)
Name (footnote - name chosen by the Responsible Adults when birth is registered)

Sex (footnote - observed at birth or from chromosome analysis)
Intersex condition notes
Acquired gender (footnote - this can only be specified >18 by the individual not the parents)

B) Mother (footnote - the woman who gave birth)
Egg donor
Mitochondrial donor

B)Father, if known. (Footnote - the man who provided the sperm)
Additional names if mixed sperm used

Responsible parent one (if different to A)
Responsible parent two (if different to B)

OhHolyJesus Wed 11-Sep-19 08:54:07

There is the DBS check question as well

Challenor showing off their 'new' birth certificate

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-19 09:03:22

DBS .. I can never remember that one, anyhow, my magic (but technically not that complicated) form would cover that, donation etc. The needs of the individual, society and parents could be balanced.

Chickenish Wed 11-Sep-19 09:21:24

Why would a donor want to be secret? Why would you keep it a secret? What if a brother and sister fell in love, unaware they are related?

MsMelanie Wed 11-Sep-19 09:52:09


I think it changed in the UK but in parts of Europe you can still have closed donations. They were (not sure if it’s changed) cheaper in cost. I know this because I paid the excess when I accompanied my friend to a Danish clinic.

My other friend had a biological child but wanted another later in life (50) with her partner. Her family unit is secure but she does live with a lot of unresolved trauma from her own childhood and she felt it is better that her daughter believes she is the biological mother.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 11-Sep-19 13:52:03

I have just ordered a replacement birth certificate for myself as I lost the original.

The information given in the birth certificate is also contained in the register of the birth, and I'd assume this is not altered in any way?

I don't know how a changed birth certificate would be linked to the original register entry though.

Thingybob Wed 11-Sep-19 14:19:10

I believe the only difference is that the birth certificate will not be the original, ie one dated within 6 weeks of birth. Replacement certificates always display the date the replacement is issued not the date of the original. Having said that, trans people are not the only people who have replacement certificates. At one time CRB checks did not accept replacement certificates but this changed a few years ago.

drspouse Wed 11-Sep-19 14:39:29

A birth certificate is a record of birth, short form BCs don't have parent's on so it's not a record of parentage.

I or my parents lost my original birth certificate so I only have the replacement. It's never been a bother.

But the long form BCs show either a) that the child is adopted and who the adoptive parent(s) is/are or b) the birth mother and her partner.
So they, actually, aren't a record of biological parentage either.
You can have a birth(ing) mother and her partner as the parents on a BC with neither of them being the child's genetic parents (donor embryos, donor egg and donor sperm, or only one of them might be, donor egg but not donor sperm, mum hasn't told her husband he isn't the father, mum is the genetic mum but she and her wife have donor sperm either from a clinic or a known donor).

Really, we are relying on parents to tell children the truth (even for adoption, many places don't allow children to see their OBCs till 18). That's why adoptive parents are heavily vetted (and parents by donor conception should be).

In the past it was acceptable not to tell adopted children or to tell children whose mother's husband wasn't their father (even where there was no acrimony/affair it was concealed. Even where the child was a different race it was concealed).

You'd think we'd moved on but some people are keen to take away children's rights.

steeples Wed 11-Sep-19 15:21:49

There is no way of telling birth certificates apart they are identical
they used to be the same but somebody that I used to know had that changed via legal channels which is good

Chickenish Wed 11-Sep-19 17:18:40

How is it good?

FlyingOink Wed 11-Sep-19 18:00:24

Can the child sue the parent who changed the document?
Children Conceived by Gamete Donation: Psychological Adjustment and Mother-child Relationships at Age 7
Two-thirds of adult donor offspring agree with the statement “My sperm donor is half of who I am.” Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception. More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them, they wonder if they are related. About two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins.
I'd often wondered why I looked so different to the people that raised me. I'm tall, hairy, with dark eyes and features. My parents are shorter, pale with light eyes. I started wondering if maybe I could be of a different ethnicity. Suddenly my whole existence felt like a lie.
Obviously it's a contentious subject and not all donor conceived children have negative experiences.
That's just for bog-standard donor IVF/IUI. Imagine how confused a purchased child conceived via egg donation and surrogacy with two fathers who mixed their sperm would be, especially if it becomes legal for the two fathers to be the only listed "parents".
Or a child whose mother is listed as her father.
What happens if a middle aged AGP married man decides to go to court to change his children's birth certificates to have his (new) name put as a second mother and the section for father left blank?

needmorespace Wed 11-Sep-19 20:45:29

Whilst Challoner's new 'birth certificate' looks similar to the short version issued at the time of birth there are subtle differences in the wording.
'Normal' birth certs do not state that it is compiled from the record held by the Registrar General.
Would have to be said though that to most people it would appear indistinguishable.

Doyoumind Wed 11-Sep-19 21:30:03

Not answering your specific question but I know the trans man featured in Seahorse failed in a bid to be recorded as the father on their child's BC.

Chickenish Wed 11-Sep-19 22:10:19

doyou fab! I hope that there isn't an appeal and a falsehood is allowed. Considering the transman felt capable of giving birth, there is always a chance that they will realise that they are female after all.

SquintEastwood Wed 11-Sep-19 22:15:02

Not the same I know but I'm in Scotland and managed to obtain a new birth certificate stating my stepdads surname instead of my dad's.

It is identical to my original with exception of the name and date.

eBooksAreBooks Thu 12-Sep-19 12:32:41

I have two different birth certificates. The date and place of birth are the same, both sets of parents are different. The volume of the register of the original certificate has been annotated to say I was adopted, but my new birth certificate looks no different to any non-adopted person's, and had I not known I was adopted, I would not have known to look for the original birth certificate.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »