Today we started the process of changing our son’s birth certificate. The HSE received our documentation over four months ago. It is only when calling them to gauge our application’s process that they inform us they could not proceed with our application until my husband’s name was removed from my son’s birth certificate. During the pregnancy we had committed to raising our son together regardless of his genetic origins so we named my husband as his father on the birth certificate and considered all to be well. According to Irish law, “biological” father and “parent” share the same definition, and although many families would argue otherwise my husband’s name on the certificate is not legally valid. The surname must be changed from double barrel to my surname only. His father’s details will be left blank.
For the application to change his birth certificate we need a DNA test. We have endured the heartbreak of two tests already, but because they home tests and not court admissible they cannot be used for our application. The particular type of test that we need costs 500euro and that excludes the doctor’s fee to take the samples. We also have each sign a statutory declaration that states the original birth certificate is incorrect. This step includes another trip to the solicitor’s office. Step parent adoption is “free”, but with many hidden costs.
When I had to sign the declaration that states my son’s birth certificate is wrong and that my husband is “not the father”, I was livid. Throughout the forms, they do not differentiate between a biological parent and a parent that actively raises the child. This man watched my son arrive into the world and hasn’t left his side since. He is not worthy of a term other than “not the father”, however. I had to shove down every instinct I had to tear up the piece of paper.
Instead, I wrote this:
Please find enclosed all required documentation for the change to my son’s birth certificate as required for our stepparent adoption application.
I would like to suggest that the term “biological” or “genetic” be used when referring to the father’s name on the birth certificate. Having to state that my husband is “not the father” of my child is incredibly upsetting for the both of us considering that he has acted as my son’s true father from the day he was born.
Having to alter my son’s surname is heart breaking because his brother will now have a different surname to him. If our adoption application is unsuccessful, this change is permanent.
There are many ways to have a family and to be a loving parent. Biology and love are not synonymous with one another. Therefore a little sensitivity regarding familial circumstances that don’t fall into the narrow frame of the traditional family unit would be appreciated.
I understand that there is legislative language that is necessary when dealing with birth certificates. These particular terms are outdated, however, considering the shift in society and changes in how families are being defined. These antiquated references have the potential to be damaging and hurtful when parents are trying to undergo the process to changing their child’s birth certificate.
Thank you for your time