A 26 year-old conceived using donor sperm has become the first in the UK to remove the man she thought was her father from her birth certificate.
Emma Cresswell had believed the man who lived with her mother at the time of her birth was her father. The paramedic was born as one of triplets when her mother and partner found themselves unable to conceive naturally, the Telegraph reports. The man was named as the father on the birth certificate but his relationship with the mother broke down and couple split up.
She re-established a relationship with the man as a teenager, still believing him to be her father, even moving in with him for a period to be closer to her college. Then he revealed the truth to one of her brothers during an argument.
Miss Cresswell told the paper:
“It came as a shock to all three of us. We had no idea or inkling as we grew up.”
She and the man are now estranged. Miss Cresswell changed her surname to her mother’s maiden name shortly after discovering the truth. Later, she decided that she was unhappy with her birth certificate naming a man who was not her father.
She told the Telegraph:
“Each time I looked at it, I just thought: this is a lie, this isn’t me. I wanted something that represented the truth.”
Miss Cresswell launched a lengthy legal battle to change the certificate, one which was expected to reach the High Court in London because altering a birth certificate in such circumstances had never previously been attempted. In the end, however, a district judge agreed to order a new certificate after her mother’s former partner and her mother certified that Miss Cresswell had been conceived via donor insemination.
The 26 year-old still does not know the identity of her biological father and her new certificate has left the details blank. She cannot trace the donor as she was born before the establishment of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in 1991, which maintains donor records. However, she still hopes to identify her biological father or any half-siblings via the National DNA Database.
Miss Creswell also supports a campaign to introduce a two-page birth certificate. The first page would indicate the people who hold parental responsibility for a child and the second would indicate whether or not the child was born naturally. Supporters of the campaign claim the current system breaches their right, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to private and family life, because it places the onus on parents to inform their children they were conceived via donation.
She said of her own situation:
“If my birth certificate was a true reflection of the situation, there would never have been a question of ‘when shall we tell her? [My parents] would have been encouraged to tell the truth earlier and maybe I wouldn’t have found out in an argument.”
Children born via artificial insemination since 2005 have the right to contact their donor parents once they reach the age of 18.