by Danielle M. Rosenberg on Jun 14, 2018 Uncategorized
This happened to Rachel Zients Schinderman, whose father died when she was four. As an adult she was adopted by her stepfather, which triggered the reissue of her birth certificate to replace her father's name with her stepfather's. This was an emotional experience for Schinderman. "No one could take my real father away from me, and someone else wanted to be there for me too," she tells me. Even so, the result strikes her as uncanny. "It is very strange to see [my stepfather's] name there and the age he would have been at the time of my birth." Schinderman understands why birth certificates get reissued upon adoption, but feels alienated by the bureaucratic requirement for such a change. "I just wish I had the option," she says.
But it's not always easy to find the document. That situation is especially acute for displaced people. Birth certificates are important for family reunification. Children born in refugee camps face the prospect of becoming stateless if they can't prove their parentage, and thus where they can claim nationality. This is tricky for Syrians in Turkey, for instance, as Syrian citizenship passes down through the father, and details of the father aren't always known.