' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Father's Names on Birth certificates: More artifice than fact

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Father's Names on Birth certificates: More artifice than fact

Oregon Health Authority

The baby may look like his dad, have his dad's  eyes and hair, but unless his parents have done their paperwork, his real dad may never be his legal father. As the chart above attests, Oregon laws, like those of other states, create a labyrinth which unmarried men seeking to establish themselves as fathers must navigate at their peril.

When my daughter Rebecca was born in California in 1966, the Vital Statistics Registrar took
my word for it when I told her my daughter's father's name.  After I married and changed my name, I was comforted in knowing that if Rebecca obtained her original birth certificate, she would be able to find her father and, I assumed, he would lead her to me.  Later I learned that many states including Oregon where I live now do not allow Vital Statistics Registrars to include father's names based on the mother's word alone. The reason I've been told is that mothers would put the names of celebrities on birth certificates in order to embarrass them or even blackmail them.

Oregon is one of only a handful of states where adoptees can obtain their original birth certificates. Through participation in a support group. I had the opportunity to see some of these once verbotten documents. The Registrar left "name of father" blank or inserted "n/a" or "unknown," which ,of course, led the adoptee to believe his mother was promiscuous. I saw one Oregon birth certificate from 1969 where "colored" was typed in for the name of the father.

Oregon allows the names of unmarried fathers to be included on birth certificates if both parents file an "affidavit of paternity." What happens if the couple doesn't file the paperwork or the mom decides she doesn't want the father's name on the birth certificate?  Well, the dad has to file a lawsuit to establish his paternity. Meanwhile unless he has filed a notice with the Vital Stats office claiming paternity, he may not get notice if the mother decides to give the baby up for adoption. And lest you wonder, that chart, as the link above attests, is from the official Oregon State site. Yes, procedures in my state of Oregon, though not quite as bad as Utah, are definitely not father-friendly.

We at First Mother Forum would like to see states cut out this nonsense. Let mothers put father's names on birth certificates.  And if they don't, give fathers notice and a reasonable amount of time to add their names or file a lawsuit to establish paternity. Birth certificates should record, well, birth information. Leave it to other documents to establish legal relationships.
for more on father's rights see: Utah rules against natural father. Again. And again. Adoption is big business there. And Utah to Birth Fathers: Go Back to the Grave.
First Fathers Matter
 Fathers Day 2010: Unmarried Fathers Who Fight for their Rights to be a Dad


  1. Jane, Father Unknown suggests Rape by Unknown Attacker. And that is a "nice" search discouraging possibility.

  2. Jane:

    When I gave birth to my son in 1972, his California birth certificate listed his father. Like you said, they took my word for it. It may not sound like a big thing to some people, but it meant a lot to me...and 18 years later, it meant a lot to our son to see his father's name on his OBC. (By befriending the director of medical records at the hospital he was born in, who just happened to be an adoptive mom and who just happened to know both my son and his adoptive father, we were able to get a copy of his OBC that had been filed away in our hospital records.)

    When I heard that the law had changed in 1980 and that single women were no longer being allowed to name their babies' fathers on the birth certificates without formal acknowledgement of paternity on their parts, I felt really sad that so many adoptees may come to believe that their mothers were promiscuous and the fathers were truly "unknown."

    I really think the law here in California needs to be changed back to the way it was in the Seventies.

  3. The power is back on in my house! No damage sustained from Irene.

    When my daughter was born in New York in 1966, both my name and that of her father were to be listed on the birth certificate. Yes, the social worker took my word and his, as he had filled out forms on his family health history.
    But of course no one has ever seen that documents except the person who filled it out.

    Jane, I love the chart--looks crazy.

  4. Every child born should have a paternity test to ensure that the man listed on his/her birth certificate is actually his/her father.

  5. Why, anonymous? Let the lucky girls who have found their St.Joseph enjoy their fortune.

  6. eh, I see motherhood is still legitimized by marriage in the process pictured above. How sexist (and adultist--to say the least). If one's husband did not father a child, he shouldn't be on the birth certifiate. Why is this so hard for people to accept?

  7. Please, that is the beauty of marriage, Amanda. The noble claim of fatherhood, in defiance of any highly reasonable doubt about the actual sire.
    Allow a little bit of romance, love.

  8. I'm still wondering (and my mother won't say) how my father was put on my original birth certificate since they weren't married, but I was glad to see his name there. This was a birth certificate from Colorado in 1955, where my mother resided when I was born and my father was in Cuba and could not attest in person of his paternity.

    There were a couple of mistakes. His middle initial was wrong and his eyes weren't green.

  9. Theodore....Lying to a child is NOT romantic, "Love". Making that lie legal fiction is not romantic.

    You, "Love", are clearly a typical ignorant with his OBC.

  10. Who is talking about lying to a child? It's a little white lie to the state, that's all,...

  11. I just looked at the chart carefully (by blowing it up so it can be read) and one of the little squares says:


    Like that is even a question? Where is truth for the child? The mother has to agree that the father's name is on the decree?

    Maybe a DNA test of the purporeted father and child should be mandatory to establish paternity. Let the chips fall where they may. And they would.

  12. My WA OBC does not list the father.

    My adoption study in my court records shows my fathers name and city of residence. (court ordered unsealing).

    The adoption surrender does not have the fathers name. (part of the court papers unsealed)

    The adoption petition and judgement notes the father is unknown. (court ordered unsealing)

    Which makes me laugh - the court had to look at the adoption study because it has both sets of parents details and whether the SW approved (Chief Juvenile Probabtion Officer back then) and that is the only place it states that and in the surrender papers she is given the authority to approve the family by the judge.

    This organization is trying to get CA to change the laws re paternity.

  13. Lorraine, why only test the daddy?
    Nowadays we cannot be sure about genetic maternity, and if giving birth is the act that is making real mothers, being in agreement with the mother about it being your fault makes fathers, for all the State has to know.

  14. I don't think there's anything loving or romantic about motherhood continuing to need to be legitimized through marriage to a man. Love is each putting the other first. Love is about bringing out the best in each other. Love is about what both partners bring to the table, not about how a woman is redeemed by legal subordination to a man.

    Love is about truth.

  15. @Amanda I rather have the idea that we are talking about different things.

    Marriage cannot make the bond between mother and child established by birth anymore legitimate, it is the source and standard of legitimacy. On the other hand daddies are fun too, and that was what I was talking about.



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