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Birth certificate closure another step closer

Thu 20 Feb 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Rowen Sullivan with her mums A special piece of legislation which would give a Lower Hutt woman both her mums’ names on her birth certificate has sailed through its second reading. When one of Rowen Sullivan's mothers, Diane Sullivan, fell ill from terminal lung cancer, her other mother, Doreen Shields was not given the option to jointly adopt her, because Rowen was an IVF baby born before a 2005 law change. Shields become Rowen's guardian instead, and adopted her after Diane's death. The result is that only one of Sullivan's mothers is listed on her birth certificate. The situation was revealed during the marriage equality campaign and drove Labour MP Louisa Wall to seek change with a rare Private Bill. It's passed its second reading in the house, with no votes against it. Wall read out comments from Rowen Sullivan, who says she is finding it hard to believe that on the cusp of her 21st birthday she is close to having official recognition of both her parents. "I feel very lucky to live in a country where it's possible for that to happen." Labour MP Carol Beaumont said it was an unusual situation, and also unusual to have such positive contributions from across the House. “This Bill has the support of all parties. That’s a very good thing. And this does feel like something where we are making a real significant difference to two people.” Beaumont acknowledged Wall for coming to Parliament and truly creating change, and paid tribute Doreen Shields and Rowen Sullivan for making it happen. “You’ve done it, and a lot of people would not have perhaps gone the distance,” she said. “Feeling legally orphaned must have been a deeply unsettling and upsetting situation. So this isn’t just a piece of paper, this is a process to respect and honour a mother who had obviously loved her daughter very much.”      

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 20th February 2014 - 10:05am

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