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Thursday, September 04, 2014

I am attempting to change my birth certificate

What I am trying to do is have my dad’s name removed and replaced with “unknown”.
I am donor conceived. Sperm donors in the 70’s were anonymous and one of the only things I know about my biological father is the donor code RE.
I do not need a piece of paper to tell me how much my dad meant to me and how much I love him and will always love him (he passed away when I was 10 – 30 years ago this month).
What I do need is an accurate and factual record of my conception and birth. Apart from originally being instigated for taxation purposes, they are supposed to be a factual record of genealogy. Mine does not, nor does the majority of other donor conceived people’s birth certificates. By enshrining deception in the law and allowing this to occur the state government is complicit in enabling recipient parents to actively deceive their child about their origins. Something we know from research that the truth is often found out later in life with devastating consequences.
My dog has a more accurate birth certificate than I do, as do a lot of livestock. How is it that animals can have a more accurate birth record than a person? Now that is dehumanising and wrong.
A birth certificate is not a certificate of ownership, we do not own children. We merely love and nurture them to adulthood.
Now I was lucky and blessed that both dad and mum always told me the truth about my conception. Something that was extremely rare in the seventies as the doctors told them to keep it a secret from me. Modern research shows that my parents were correct and made the right decision for which I am forever grateful. They both taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and this is what I am doing. I strongly believe that I am continuing on my dad’s legacy of seeking and telling the truth by making this stand. His legacy also still lives on in my name, Damian HEDLEY ADAMS. This will not change.
As it currently stands if any of my descendants do genealogy research of my family they will be lead down the wrong path. Yes they will still be linked to the Adams’s and this is still important, but it is not their flesh and blood.
Birth certificates need to be reviewed. They should contain all of the biological parents as well as any legal parents (if different), that way parents will stop deceiving their children and the truth about their kinship will be available to them.
As far as I am aware this is the first time this has been attempted in Australia, and I may not be successful, but it is time to make a stand not just for me but for my descendants and other donor conceived people.



Anonymous said...


If you don't need a piece of paper to say anything about the man who raised you to age 10, then why change the piece of paper if it doesn't matter? It seems to me that it matters enough to you to want to erase his existance from the record books as being your dad since he never adopted you.

And since there would be no legal record of him being your parent, why not just drop his last name? Why just go part of the way in erasing him from your life? It seems that it if your logic is that you want things to be more truthful you should not only change your birth certificate but also change your last name.

damianhadams said...

Thanks for the questions.
It matters because it is a legal document. It matters because it is supposed to record factual information. It matters because currently thousands of donor conceived people are being deceived of their origins by their raising parents. And even if they do know, there is the issue of clinics keeping proper records (the number of records destroyed is alarming). This way they cannot be deceived (deception is a poor foundation for a family) and the offspring will always have access to their heritage and it can be linked back to that person for vital medical health history information.
It does not erase my dad from existence at all. Hypothetically, the birth certificate should record the biological parents as well as any legal parents on the document but currently they only have space for two people. It needs to change.
I never said that I want to erase him from my life, just an accurate legal document. As for changing family name - I did consider this. But what could it be changed to? I have no biological paternal heritage as it currently stands (where a child's family name typically comes from).

Anonymous said...

Essentially because a birth certificate is legal proof of parentage not conception you are legally erasing him as having ever been your parent. Rather than go half way just go the whole way. You could always replace that man's name with your mom's name.

If the goal is to have both genetic and legal parents listed on all birth certificates erasing the man who raised you until age 10 does not move towards that change. What it does is set a precedent that genetics always supersedes any non genetic parent. Thus it will just encourage more lies and insecurity among couples or individuals to not be truthful to their children. No one will nor have they benefitted from that.

damianhadams said...

I don't agree with your proposition on several fronts, mainly because your proposition does not fit within the legislation and precendents of this jurisdiction.
Firstly our family relationships acts establishes that the husband of the woman receiving the treatment at the time as the legal parent. Changing the birth certificate does not change the effect of this legislation. He will always be regarded as the legal parent.
This is the same for the adoption community and adoptees. Adoptees here do not have their biological birth parents removed from their birth certificate to make the adoptive parents recognised as their legal parents. They are also entitled to this information in this jurisdiction. Adoptive parents are not magically erased as you suggest. Currently donor conceived people are the only people actively denied knowledge of their progenitors by the state, and changing the birth certificates to reflect the truth would only just bring the donor conceived people into line with the rest of the community.
This knowledge of and access to this information then would allow Australia to fulfill its obligations under the UN Convention Rights of the Child which states that a child is entitled to know who their parents are and the handbook for interpreting these articles states that this infers biological parents.
We also have legislation which recognises that the donor conceived child's welfare is to be paramount, however the current situation panders to the recipient parents and relegates this welfare principle.
The insecurity of a couple that you state is their own construction. A piece of paper does not verify the emotional connection a child has with their raising parents. the child will love them for who they are in their lives and what they do for them. If a social parent is insecure then that is something that should have been covered more fully in the counselling sessions that they are compelled to attend here.
A change to recognise all parents (both social and biological) on a birth certificate creates openness as their can be no hiding the truth. The child then also has access to knowledge of their heritage and kinship.
This openness and acknowledgement of the truth of the child's heritage then also fits in with a neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics approach that i have outlined elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

If he is removed from your birth certificate what other legal proof is there that he was your legal parent? The answer there is none. Keeping his last name is a half a hearted attempt to make your point. No one in the future who has an interest in your family history will never know him once he's removed legally from having ever parented you. So changing your name is also best to avoid confusion on that end.

Adoption is different in that you have legal documentation that proves the legal parents aren't the ones who gave birth to the child. That's not the case in your situation since there would be no legal documentation with the removal of his name from your birth certificate.

Changing your birth certificate to reflect who conceived you does not bring you any closer to finding out who your bio father is. That is the heart of the issue that needs to change moving forward. Donor Children should absolutely have access to that information. Again to me the goal should be to have birth certificates for all people that list biological and legal parents. This move by you does not do that, IMO.

The insecurity that infertile couples have is not a construction. To state such proves a complete ignorance when it comes to infertility. Infertility not only brings sadness but a loss of self confidence and self worth. If you have people legislating to diminish roles of non bio parents and erasing non biological parents from legal existence you make it more likely for couples to not ever disclose to their children that they were donor conceived. It's something that unless you've been through it you could never comprehend. Just as I couldn't comprehend what it's like to be donor conceived.

If we truly believe that non biological parents hold the same value as biological ones even though their roles in the child's life may differ then we need to stop going from one extreme to the other.

damianhadams said...

First of all, I never said that the insecurity that an infertile person feels is not real - you are trying to read into it what I wrote. What I said is that the insecurity is what they have created for themselves - it is their construction. It is very much real, but it is not imposed on them by anyone else in society. So no ignorance here.
If you knew more about my history you would know that I have strongly advocated for the inclusion of all parties on a birth certificate. I have done this at federal and state parliamentary inquiries. Unfortunately until such time as I am allowed to have all of those people listed then this move is to reflect the simple truth of the matter and to bring my certificate in line with the rest of society here in this jurisdiction. Donor conceived people here are the only ones to not have an accurate birth certificate (ignoring those that fraudulently enters the incorrect details or does so in error by not knowing who the father is etc) - this is discrimination.
I did contemplate changing my name completely, however, at this stage of my life with a published career using that name and with children that have this name I decided against it. If I was younger and single then perhaps I may have taken that step.
I have also argued elsewhere that being donor conceived is being half-adopted and I would like to see more formal adoption proceedings take place. Removing my dad's name from the birth certificate does not remove him from legal existence, if you had read the previous reply you would see that there is legislation recognising that fact - the marriage certificate showing that he was married to my mother at the time would prove this and it has recognition in law.
You state "It's something that unless you've been through it you could never comprehend." Once again here is another example of the wishes of the parent taking precedence over the welfare of the child. It is already established in legislation that the welfare of the child is paramount here, but currently I would argue that the wishes and desires of parents currently usurp that welfare. Now perhaps you may not be insinuating it but I get this a lot - people assuming that because I have children I dont know what it is like to have to go through infertility treatment. If that is the case then you would be wrong.

Anonymous said...

You have a whole range of issues here that you are attempting to solve. However since you do not know the man's name and unless he comes forward and volunteer this information exactly what is changing the birth certificate going to do for you? When in your life will this be of any use to you since everyone in your family, friends and associate knows of your birth. So let's assume you get this done some day will it make your life more happy if you have a piece of paper that say father unknown. You keep stating that legal documents needs factual information but at the time of your birth it was factual, your father was deemed in the eyes of the law as being your legal father so there was no deception. Wouldn't it make more sense to just try and have the original amended to leave your parents name on and then title it as amended with an explanation. Perhaps you can use your time more productively by trying to get legislation passed to make sure all medical information of the donor is given to the mother at the time of procedure so if the needs arise in the future it will be there.
I keep reading these blogs and you all sound so angry and are on a mission to unmask this person who gave sperm to a couple a long time ago. Everyone of you keep repeating the donor's number so isn't it logical that since it is seen by millions that the donor is also seeing it. And if they were interested in getting to know any of you wouldn't they have come forward by now? No one is faulting you for knowing your heritage but it seems the main stumbling block is that the donor sees himself as merely a donor and the rest of you see him as a father.
And finally what if somehow you do find this man and he clearly states he does not want you to bother him will it be enough for you that you know his identity and not try to interfere in his life.

damianhadams said...

Where did I say I was angry?
You are making an assumption. I have approached this over many years of thought and study of the research in this field as well as the study of the legislation and regulation.
If you knew about the situation here in Australia and what we have been doing you wouldnt be making statements such as being more productive doing X Y Z. Because quite simply we have been doing X Y Z for many years. We have had federal and state inquiries. I have even managed to get part of the legislation changed in my own state. Donor conception falls under the area of health which is controlled by the states and as such each state has different legislation or even has none at all.
Even at time of birth the document was not factual - even though legislation recognises him as the legal parent as it should do, the father recorded on birth certs is supposed to record biological parentage so it is wrong.
If the sperm donor (misnomer as he exchanged the sperm for money), does not want to connect with me then that is fine, nothing I can do about that.
I am seeking to be treated the same as everyone else here and currently I am not. Donor conceived people here are discriminated against.
The quest about me changing my birth certificate changed is not just about me but also about other donor conceived people and getting the system changed so that all parties are listed on the birth certificate. It is about created social awareness and instigating political change. The publicity it has generated and the fact that you are here commenting shows that it has worked. I have been productive as you suggested - you just failed to see it.

damianhadams said...

The amount of support I have received over this move has been amazing. Not just family and friends, but other donor conceived people, donors, and even recipient parents (those that were infertile and used donor conception).
Additionally the show of support I have received from law academics, social work academics and those researching in the donor conception field is reassuring that I have made the correct decision even if it doesn't get up.
Sure there have been a few who disagree with me and this move, they are entitled to their opinion.

Blood Matters said...

I've been forced to use a fraudulent birth certificate which states a genetic stranger as my mother & father. Everyone else's ancestry, identity and geneaology is revered except for the groups who were produced or acquired for the purposes of adoption, donor conception or surrogacy. Somehow these groups natural human rights to their correct ancestry is trumped by the people who obtained them's ' need' to be 'parents'. More and more of us are speaking out. I am about to commence the process of getting my true birth certificatemore of us are speaking out. I am about to commence the process of getting my true birth certificate reinstated. Only those who are victims of this injustice seem to truly understand how cruel and wrong it is to be denied the history and reality everyone else takes for granted.