I’ve written about adoption and birth certificates before. So I don’t repeat myself, I refer you to those posts:
Recently, forums I visit and blogs I read have been talking about birth certificates. Several people have suggested that adopted children (and, presumably, adults) should have adoption certificates, or certificates of legal parentage, or something that leaves the biological parents’ name on the birth certificate while still enabling the adoptive (and legal) parents to do things like obtain health insurance and sign kids up for sports.
I don’t think that’s a good idea.
I do not believe that original birth certificates should be sealed. Any that are should be unsealed ASAP, and going forward, none should be sealed at all. But, as long as birth certificates are used as legal documents that have to be shown to numerous people, they should all appear to be the same.
There are actually many reasons why a person’s genetic parents would be different than his/her legal parents, including:
- Traditional adoption (step-parent, kinship, foster, international, private)
- Embryo adoption in which the legal mother carries and births the baby, which means that the legal mother is the biological mother but not the genetic mother (legally, the definition of biological mother is the woman who gives birth, even if that woman isn’t genetically related to the child)
- Embryo adoption in which a surrogate carries and births the baby (in this case, the child might have 3 mothers)
- Egg donation in which the legal father is the sperm “donor” and the legal mother is also the biological, but not genetic, mother
- Sperm donation in which the legal mother is also the biological and genetic mother
- Egg or sperm donation, or both, using a surrogate (so, again, the child could have 3 mothers and 2 fathers)
- Old-fashioned affairs, in which the legal parent is presumed to be the father because he was married to the mother at the time of the pregnancy, but wasn’t the biological parent
So, who wants to create certificates for all of those?
The birth certificate has become a document that verifies:
- One’s legal status as a citizen of the US
- One’s age
- One’s legal parentage
I do not like the idea of an Adoption Certificate, of listing multiple names as mother or father, or of identifying the mothers and fathers as adopted v. biological v. genetic.
So far, I’ve needed birth certificates to:
- Get my children health insurance
- Get SNAP and other benefits when Max was unemployed
- Get my children onto planes as lap children
- Enroll Jackson in soccer and baseball
- Establish that I am eligible to work in the US
- Enroll Jackson in school
- Obtain Social Security numbers
- Change my name
- Enroll myself in college
- Get into and out of the Bahamas on my honeymoon (we didn’t need passports then)
I believe I will need it to enroll my kids in camp programs as well, and I’m sure there are many other uses for it.
It’s none of the soccer registrar’s business if my kids were adopted. Moreover, though, it’s also none of the registrar’s business if my kids were born through egg donation, surrogacy, or an affair. What kid enrolling in high school wants to get into that conversation with the school’s registrar?
Creating a new class of document will not lessen discrimination. If anything, it creates the opportunity for more discrimination.