There can be few questions of greater importance than ‘Who is my parent?’. A judge made that point in taking the unprecedented step of enabling rectification of an adopted woman’s birth certificate to reflect the identity of her natural father.
The woman’s natural mother was from an aristocratic family and was unmarried and barely out of her teens when she gave birth to her. The woman was adopted as a baby and had spent much of the last 40 years trying to trace her birth father. She engaged private investigators but her efforts were to no avail until DNA results she submitted to a number of genealogy websites threw up a match.
She was devastated to discover that the man for whom she had been searching for so long had died some years previously. He turned out to be a brilliant academic who had apparently fathered 11 children. DNA testing of one of his bones confirmed to a very high degree of probability indeed that he was her father and members of his family had been quick to accept her as one of their own.
The woman, for whom discovery of her birth family was of monumental importance, sought a declaration of parentage as a formal recognition of her birth father’s identity and rectification of her birth certificate accordingly. Her experience of adoption had been generally positive and she had no wish to expunge that aspect of her life. She felt, however, that the inclusion of her father’s name on her birth certificate would confirm her bloodline and formally complete her birth history.
Granting the orders sought, the judge found that the woman’s application had been properly made notwithstanding that her adoption meant that, in law, her adoptive parents were her only mother and father. Given that she was an adult and both her adoptive parents were dead, there was no question of her application undermining the confidentiality of a current adoptive placement.
There was no public policy reason why the identity of her birth father should not be formally declared and recorded on her birth certificate. There was no legal bar on a declaration of parentage being made after an adoption order had been granted. The judge granted similar relief in another case that raised identical issues.
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