by Kristina F. Singh on Jun 14, 2018 Birth Certificate
Elsewhere, the document has more diverse purposes. In Sudan, a birth certificate has to be presented before a child can enroll in school. In the United States, birth certificates are required to register with Native American tribes. In Sri Lanka, a birth certificate makes it possible to respect a minimum age of criminal responsibility; without it, police may informally estimate (and possibly exaggerate) children's ages. In the United Kingdom, birth certificates help establish eligibility to join the armed forces.
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.