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Lesbian mother who adopted her own child wins legal case

Sarah Osborne was told she couldn't be labelled as a parent on the child's birth certificate as she wasn't the father.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Pexels

A woman, who was in a same-sex relationship, was told to adopt her own child after she was refused to be registered as the child’s mother has now been granted a High Court ruling to quash the adoption. 

The High Court revoked the adoption order and reversed the original birth certificate on 15 July.

Sarah Osborne, 48, and Helen Arnold, 48, had a baby through IVF but Ms. Osborne was forced through a “painful and humiliating process” of adopting her own child after she was not named on her child’s birth certificate.

The Cambridge Register Office wrongly said there “could only be one” mother on the birth certificate and the family was instructed to carry out a “step-parent” adoption involving numerous social worker evaluations to assess Ms. Osborne’s suitability to be a parent.

In 2014, when Ms. Osborne and Ms. Arnold’s child was born, the law stated that a lesbian couple who have a child through IVF, and who consented to be a parent, should be named on the child’s birth certificate.

It was when the couple had their second child in 2018 and there was no rejection of Ms. Osborne being registered as the parent that the couple realised something was wrong with the process.

Speaking after the ruling, Ms. Osborne said she was “delighted that we have finally had this erroneous adoption order quashed and look forward to being registered, as I always have been, as the parent of my child,” the BBC reported. 

“The disrespectful, indignant and flippant attitude of the registrar made me feel stupid for asking or expecting to be named as a parent,” she continued, “as if I was a random stranger off the street.”

Ms. Arnold said this ordeal should have never happened, adding: “We have always been our child’s mothers and it is outrageous that we have been through the painful and humiliating process of Sarah having to adopt.”

She continued that it was “simply unfathomable” that adoption was the only route for them and then to find out what they went through was unnecessary was “incomprehensible.”

“It gives me great pleasure today to make this order for what I know for your clients has been a very difficult number of years,” said Mr. Justice Macdonald, the judge, according to the Guardian.

Their statement continued: “I am certain that it has caused great distress and discomfort and upset for them and I hope that the court making the order today can bring some form of closure to them. It is extremely unfortunate that these events occurred.”

Cambridgeshire County Council said it recognised the legal blunder and the subsequent impact of the events.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “We hope that today’s hearing provides a clear way forward, to allow the necessary legal steps to be taken to achieve a birth registration which names both parties as parents.”

“We recognise the impact this has had on the family, and would welcome the opportunity to work with the General Register Office on a review to try and prevent any family or local authority being in a similar situation again.”

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.