Fertility Journal

Should a birth certificate tell the truth about a child’s origins?

From 6th April 2010, gay, lesbian and unmarried couples who have a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, may obtain a parental order which names them as the parents on the child’s birth certificate.   This means that these couples will no longer have to go through the process of obtaining an adoption certificate to replace the original birth certificate.

While the new Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act (2008) has streamlined and clarified parenthood issues and parental responsibility, is it in the interests of the child that details of origins are not available?  For example in a gay relationship, one partner may have been the sperm donor (genetic father),  one woman an egg donor (genetic mother) and another the birth mother.  Yet the birth certificate will only name two men as the child’s parents.  If the child is born as a result of embryo donation, it becomes even more complicated.  There will be a genetic mother and father (the embryo donors) and a birth mother (the surrogate mother), but neither of the two men named as parents will be genetically related to the child.

It is true that from the age of 18, the young adult will be able to discover the identity of an egg or sperm donor who has been registered in the UK and may be able to trace them if they are still alive and living in the UK.  The HFEA will only be able to release the last known name and address.