- By Michael Buchanan
- Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC News
“There can only be one mother” on the birth certificate.
That’s what an official at a registry office in Cambridge, UK, told Sarah Osborne when her partner gave birth.
After denying her the right to appear as a mother on the birth certificate, Osborne was forced to adopt her own son.
Now the UK High Court has overturned the adoption and annulled the original birth certificate.
In addition, the court ruled that she must be recognized as the parent.
Cambridgeshire County Council said it is aware of the consequences of the events.
After the ruling, Osborne, 48, said she was “delighted and eager to be registered as the mother of my child.
At the time of birth, in 2014, the law was clear that same-sex couples who had a child through in vitro fertilization, and in which both gave their consent to be considered as parentsshould appear on the child’s birth certificate.
But when Osborne and his partner, Helen Arnold, went to register the birth at the Cambridge Register Office, they told him that she could not be included on the birth certificate.
The registrar claimed that unless Sarah was the father, and she “clearly wasn’t,” then his name could not be put on the birth certificate.
“The disrespectful, indignant and impertinent attitude of the registrar made me feel stupid for asking or expecting to appear as a parent,” Sarah said, “like I was just some random stranger on the street.”
When the child was 6 months old, the family was told that Sarah had to go through with an adoption and in 2015 several meetings were arranged with social workers to Evaluate your suitability to be a mother.
She was told that adopting a child was “not to be taken lightly” and that she had to complete a criminal background check and request a court order, which arrived in November 2015.
It wasn’t until the couple had a second child in 2018, and Osborne was registered as a mother, that they realized something about the procedure had gone wrong.
“Sarah should never have had to adopt our son,” Helen said.
“We have always been the mothers of our children and it is outrageous that we have gone through the painful and humiliating process of Sarah having to adopt.
The family’s attorney, Jeremy Ford of The Cambridge Family Law Practice, praised the women for giving up their right to anonymity and “bringing this issue to national attention, as there may be other couples who have suffered the same injustice.”
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “We hope that today’s judgment will provide a clear path forward, to allow the necessary legal steps to be taken to achieve a birth record naming both parties as parents“.
“We recognize the impact this has had on the family and would welcome the opportunity to work with the Registrar General’s Office on a review to try to prevent any family or local authority from ever being in a similar situation again.”
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