submitted by Lori
Will you ever have to prove your donor child doesn’t have a father? When I gave birth to my daughter via anonymous donor IUI in 1999, I hoped that the information regarding her father would be left blank on her birth certificate.
I had discussed her paternity with a family lawyer friend during my pregnancy, but she found it impossible to guide me as she had not encountered the issue before. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I strongly felt I did not want her birth certificate to say “unknown” in the space where the father’s name belongs. I was aware of a child whose birth certificate said “unknown” because his mother refused to name the father and I was just not comfortable with that. It sounded too much like labeling her a bastard! So I viewed this as my first legal hurdle in my pioneering adventure of becoming a Choice Mom in Alabama. This ain’t California and I was no single and pregnant Hollywood starlet, so I assumed there would be more legal hurdles in the future too.
When someone came to my hospital room and asked me to fill out information for my new daughter’s birth certificate, I came to the space for the father’s name and wrote “none.” The staffer left my room with the paperwork, only to return a few hours later in distress. She explained that she could not list the father as “none” but that she could submit it to the state with the father information blank. When I received the certificate from the state a few weeks later, the space was indeed blank. I smiled and thought “Great! Mission one accomplished!”
Some five years later, I was having a conversation with my teenage son (from a previous marriage). We were discussing the importance of good high school grades, getting into the best colleges, scholarships, and the state-run pre-paid tuition plan his father and I had in place for him. I was promising him that his father and I would pay for him to attend any college or university of his choice – if he was accepted. If he was accepted to Harvard or Yale, we would somehow pay for it. He was thinking about the University of Hawaii – far from home in paradise – while I’m thinking FASFA grants and bank loans!
Sometime later that year, I was helping my neighbor make an online FASFA application for her child because she didn’t have access to a computer. That’s when I realized that one day, when my Choice Child became a senior in high school, I would most likely be doing the same thing for her. The FASFA application REQUIRES copies of BOTH parents’ recent income tax returns, regardless of marital status, and I started wondering how I was going to talk my way out of that one someday.
That led to other thoughts and reasons of why I might someday need to prove that my daughter didn’t have a father, but a bio-dad. Suppose a wonderful man came into my life and wanted to marry me and adopt my daughter as his own? We would need “a father” to terminate his parental rights to proceed with an adoption.
When my teenage son went on a week-long field trip with his school, written permission-waiving legal liability for the school was required from both parents. My daughter would someday make that same trip. And I knew there would be other occasions but could not imagine what they would be. I knew I needed to do SOMETHING to prove that I was the mother of a wonderful child, who didn’t have a father, on purpose.
I took my daughter’s birth certificate with the blank father information to an attorney who specialized in adoptions. After explaining why I was there, he looked back and forth at me and the birth certificate several times before saying “And I thought surrogacy was complicated.” He understood my possible dilemma, but offered no advice beyond “cross that bridge when you get to it.” But I did not want something to blow up in my face someday because I couldn’t “fix” it fast enough.
So, I took the next step I could think of and made an appointment at the fertility clinic where my daughter was conceived. They frequently inseminated women with anonymous donor sperm. I half seriously considered changing my daughter’s birth certificate to list her donor number. The clinic agreed to give me a copy of my complete fertility clinic medical records. As I was leaving, the woman told me “It’s a good thing you thought to get these records now, because we destroy our records seven years after a woman leaves the care of our clinic.” GULP! Who knew??
When I got home, I studied the 10 to 12 pages of records I had been given. There was the intake paperwork done on my first visit that stated I was there to conceive a child and I was a single woman. The next page detailed my physical exam, lab work, and noted that I was not pregnant at the time. The following page spoke of my selection of the donor I wanted to use, as well as two back-up donors if my first choice was not available or viable. Next was the sheet listing my five IUI attempts, the donor used, what day I was in my cycle, and what type of ovulation predictor had been used. There were also medical notes from the sonar that was done, stating that the size and approximate age of my fetus was consistent with the insemination that had been done on December 3, 1998. And finally, there was a very formal letter from my clinic physician to my regular OB/GYN transferring me back to his practice for maternity care.
Now that I had all this – was it enough?
Mikki’s note: Because Lori has written wonderful details of her story, I’m splitting it into two parts. The second part is here.