Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Birth Certificates: The Case for Reform

Current legislation (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act) is under review in the UK and members of the House of Lords along with many in the DC and adoption community (primarily IDOA) are trying to persuade legislators to enact a new birth certificate for children conceived via donor gametes to give them equality to all other British citizens [in the UK adoptees have had access to their original birth certificates since 1979], which will identify the child's biological parents as well as give notification that the child is conceived via a donor in order to force parents to disclose.

Check out IDOA's recommendation and briefing for the House of Commons here:


"IDOA was formed in 2007.  It exists to act as an advocate for those conceived through the use of donor gametes: eggs or sperm.  It has members from the UK, US, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia; they include both donor offspring (of both sexes and ranging in age from 24 [actually 19] to 64) and academics and social work practitioners who have a professional interest in the field [as well as donors and recipient parents and adoptees]."

"IDOA believes that everyone has the right to know the truth about their own life and that includes the manner of their conception and the identity of their biological parents."

"IDOA is the voice of those who know what it means to be donor-conceived.  Our experience leads us to assert that:
-Genetic heritage has objective existence, meaning and value;
-Everyone has a moral right to know about their genetic and biological origin and background;
-Being deprived of that knowledge or deceived about ones origins is painful and damaging;
-Where the state intervenes by supporting or regulating the provision of donor gametes it has a responsibility to establish legal protection for that moral right by ensuring that the people brought into existence by donor conception are not deceived, nor deliberately deprived of information, about their genetic and biological parents"


Donor children demand to be told parents’ IDs

Sophie Goodchild, Health Editor

Evening Standard


Ministers today faced a fresh challenge over fertility reforms.

A new campaign group has accused the Government of refusing to recognise the rights of children born through sperm or egg donation.

The International Donor Offspring Alliance says children who are not told the identity of their genetic parents are at risk of trauma in later life.

It is lobbying for a new style of birth certificate that would record the names of sperm or egg donors so children can track down their parents.

Last week, Gordon Brown was forced to allow MPs a free vote on plans to allow scientists to create embryos with animal and human cells under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. This was in response to pressure from the Catholic church.

About 40,000 Britons have been born through donated sperm or eggs. The Government has already changed the law to allow children conceived after April 2005 to trace their genetic parents.

Peers have tabled an amendment to the Bill, which will be debated next month, that would mean birth certificates being marked with a symbol so children would know they were born through egg or sperm donation. But campaigners say this does not go far enough. Tom Ellis, 25, of the Offspring Alliance, said: "All we want is parity with the rest of society. Adopted children have this information from birth, but our birth certificates are the only ones that can contain a lie."

However, Infertility Network UK, a support group for couples who have had children by fertility treatment, said parents should be left to inform their offspring privately about their origin rather than having new-style birth certificates. Spokeswoman Susan Seenan said: "We polled our members and the response was an overwhelming 'no' because a certificate is very much a public document.

"We are in favour of children being told they are conceived through donor conception but putting it on birth certificates is not the way forward."

Eric Blyth, professor of social work at Huddersfield University, suggested a solution that took account of both sides. "All birth certificates should carry a statement that there may be other information relating to the individual whose birth is recorded," he said.

"If this statement were on all birth certificates it would not compromise the privacy of any individuals."


TOM ELLIS learned the secret about his birth when his parents split up three and a half years ago.

His mother told him the man he called "father" was in fact infertile and his genetic parent was a sperm donor.

Mr Ellis, a 25-year-old Cambridge mathematics graduate, said he was stunned by the revelation.

He said: "They [my parents] never really intended to tell me at all. It was a big shock - a really big thing to take in.

"It's very difficult - if someone lies to you then it's hard and feels like a betrayal." Mr Ellis added: "My brother was also donor-conceived but with a different father. I'd always assumed he was my full brother." The clinic where he was conceived, the Infertility Advisory Centre in London, has since closed down and former staff have refused to help him trace his father.

But he is determined to uncover the truth and has already registered with a DNA matching website to trace any other siblings his father may have helped create.

Mr Ellis said: "It's hard because there is very little information out there but we're going to keep pressing for this."

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