Hurrah, the anonymous birth is here!
The desired child: an argument for adoption and against forced parenthood

Earlier this year the European Court of Justice with a majority of 10 against 7 made a decision on the question of anonymous birth which is quite startling. A French woman had sued for the right to learn the identity of her biological mother and wanted to have access to her birth documents by a court order. The supreme court however confirmed that the French regulation stands for the legally recognized possibility of anonymous birth and is not in contradiction of the European Human Rights Convention and thus rejected the complaint. The informal self-determination of a child thus finds his/her limit at the informal self-determination of his/her biological parents, their right to anonymity under certain circumstances.

Many people are probably not aware what consequences this decision has and what enormous possiblities lie hidden in it. Because as soon as one permits the thought of a decoupling of physical birth and parenthood, one touches on the core of racism, biologism and multiple discrimination in society. Who doesn't know the history of Brecht's Caucasian chalk circle, in which the unselfish love of a mother for the child claimed by two women was the sole crucial criterion for maternity? The Salomon verdict is very similar - no investigation on pregnancy or a witness of the birth but rather only the proof of love for the child on the menace of it's death counts: in both examples the physical and/or biological "condition" is not consulted for regulation by "relationship", instead only the relationship between the child and the person who becomes the mother under these circumstances.

As a result, the demand, expressed in the modern way, is that each child is adopted. There is no other parenthood except the voluntary one, technically carried out for example by a voluntary signature of parents on the birth certificate of a child. This door is opened with the possibility for a legal anchorage of anonymous birth, now confirmed by the European Court of Justice for human rights. Surely this would accompany with it that bological parents would have a priority, temporally limited optional right to "adoption" of the child but on the other hand no-one could be forced into parenthood by becoming a chromosome or gene donor.

The parent/child relationship has thereby been placed on a force-free basis from the outset, the will to assume together the responsibility for a child as the basis for a certain period of life, if not for the whole life. With "adoption as the general rule" society would make a quantum transition, comparable to the progress made when a partnership is based on affection as opposed to a forced coupling as with a dowry.

However thereby everyone could steal themselves from the obligation of paying maintenance for his children. But is that really a problem? Instead one would have expected a restructuring, so that "custody" becomes the "obligation of welfare", "maintenance payment" becomes "the right to maintenance payment" and "education authorization" become "education obligation". Everything would be financed by an increased inheritance tax which would be used for the maintenance payments to all children. This would mean an increased equality of opportunity, because all of the maintenance payments for the children would be taken from the entire national economy. The fantasy of "biological" descent is replaced by linguistic genealogy; the surname would be the connection to the past. Linguistic defines the origin: we actually do not live as heaps of similarly grouped molecules, but rather as communicating beings, i.e. created linguistically.

How valid is this suggestion with regard to the current discussion? In Germany the so-called "baby flaps" (life-supporting "drop-off" stations for unwanted babies of mothers who thereby remain anonymous) and the anonymous birth move in a legal gray area. The abandoning of a child is punishable, however if the child is left in a secure environment, this is not punished. In the Bundestag (Parliament) a bill was therefore brought in for the abolition of the duty to notify the authorities about anonymous births, which all parliamentary groups supported except the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). One year ago the legislation process was interrupted in order to wait for the decision of the European Court of Justice.

The driving force behind the legalization efforts is in particular the Catholic Church, which uses the argument of protecting life to explain an anonymous birth as an emergency birth and which believes the prevention of mortal danger for the unwanted child to be more important and more valuable than the individual right to knowledge about a biological relationship, which has been elevated to become a "personal right".

Physicians argue against the anonymous birth, since women in a state of distress could not be prevented from actions which are lethal for the child just because they have the possibility to use the "baby flap" or an anonymous birth. If these women in emergency situations would already act so rationally that they would use a "baby flap" or an anonymizing birth station, then they would be in such control of themselves anyway so that they would not need to take the step of committing this "horrendous crime". The Catholics as well as the medical attitude have the common acceptance that this is about an "emergency", because sexuality flopped, so to speak. A child becomes the "unwanted one", because it developed outside of family planning.

A model of self-determined parenthood by "adoption as a rule" would mean the exclusion of "forced parenthood" and sexuality would be disconnected from parenthood and the responsibility for a child. As a more welcome - anti-Catholic - side effect, sexuality and pregnancy would thereby be freed from central fears. A central element of rule would be made dispensible, because desire without punishment is the horror of all ruling powers.

Isn't a "desired child" actually realized only by the fact that parents redeem it in an act of voluntary agreement for the assumption of the responsibility for this child? Isn't the prevailing interpretation of "desired child" a construction actually deeply biologistical, even racist and exclusionary? From this arises the major portion of reproduction medicine and the clone-centered biomedicine fantasies. Where else do such absurd theories such as "life prolongation" as a clone otherwise come from? Against this fantasy production not even calls by the state for punishment costing millions would be of any help. Instead this dominant biologistic ideology is strengthened. Voluntary parenthood would work diametrically against it. The first step towards this is the legalizing of the anonymous birth - in the Federal Republic it is on the agenda of the legislators.

Original authors: Sylvia Zeller and René Talbot