Devon Dick | Put father's name on birth certificate
The Young and the Restless TV star, 57-year-old old Victoria Rowell, a foster child, is searching for her Jamaican dad without success. In spite of her fame and fortune and having two children, this accomplished actress, writer, producer and dancer wants to know her father. All she knows is that the family could be from St Ann and that he left Jamaica for the USA in 1957 or '58. Rowell's case demonstrates that most children want to know his or her father. Therefore, every child has a right to know the name of his or her biological father and both parents name should be on the birth certificate. Once we start with that premise, then we enact the legislation to support that goal.
In fact, even when a child is given up for adoption, the child has not given up the right to know the name of his or her biological parents. Most adopted children are curious to know the biological parents, and these old-fashioned ways of hiding the parents' names have no merit and is more designed for the adopted parents, to feel secure that the child will not want to return to the biological parents after they have invested so much money, time and effort in raising an adopted child.
There could be many reasons why the name of the father is not on the child's birth certificate. Apparently powerful, popular married men are militating against naming the father for fear of prosecution, embarrassment and losing their wives. These underage girls are usual underprivileged and are afraid to talk because of potential harm to them physically, or they are pawns used by their mothers for financial benefits. By the way, how come no prominent politician gets charged for indecent assault of a minor?
According to The Gleaner, in May 2009, then Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the legislation making it compulsory for fathers' names to be added to birth certificates would be in place in three months. And in May of this year, Dr. Christopher Tufton, minister of health, announced that the legislation was being prepared (November 27). Why is this so hard to enact?
It should be an offence for a mother not to name a father on the birth certificate of her child. If the mother is underage, then the charge can stay until the mother is an adult. There should be no statute of limitation. Since a child cannot be registered in a school without a birth certificate, similarly a child should not be registered, or get a passport without both parents' name on the birth certificate.
When a child is to migrate to the USA, one has to be certain that the father is the correct person, so why is it we cannot have the legislation in place? If a man feels that he is not the father, then he has recourse to a DNA testing which should be free if he wins the case, but attracts a fee if he loses. If the mother was causing mischief, then there is a charge for that already.
According to the Christian faith, Jesus has no earthly father. His conception was a miracle. Can you imagine what a conundrum it would be for Christians if there were uncertainty about the father of Jesus? Since Jesus knew his father in such a unique and difficult situation, then every child should know his or her father and the name should be on the birth certificate.
So many of our young people are restless because they feel disconnected from their genealogy, their roots which tells them about their make-up and influences.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.