Now I’ve found my birth family a couple of questions that I’ve been bouncing around my head: should I go through the rigmarole to change my pre-adoption birth record to reflect the correct details of my birth family or do I go one step further and change my legal birth certificate and more importantly, can I?

I realise changing my legal birth record would be a controversial especially with my adopted family as many would say I’d be dishonouring them and to a degree I guess they’d be right but when I look at my pre-adoption birth certificate it’s predominately a falsified document. The surname of Watkins isn’t my birth mother’s surname, she wasn’t born in Portland Victoria although she was brought up there, and my father’s details are no where to be seen. The only piece of truthful information is her firstname, Anne.

What I think is astonishing is no one asked my birth mother for identification when she went through the adoption process and then subsequently deliver me. By today’s standards this it outrageous but it was acceptable back then but should yesterday’s low standard not be rectified today? I certainly think it should be rectified!

Through my online research there’s nothing that resembles the information I’m after. The only links Google searches return are to the NSW Births Deaths and Marriage website and on this site it only lists two reasons allowable for changing birth records, they are: “only the biological parents of a child may add a father’s details to a birth registered in NSW” but “both women in a same sex de factor relationship may now be recognised on their child’s birth certificate”. Well that’s a lot of help!

However, the website did have a section for adoptees to apply for unamended birth certificates and it included an email address so I sent the following email:


I was adopted immediately after birth on 9 January 1961 and I have recently reunited with by birth family, however both birth parents are deceased.

On my original (unamended) birth certificate my birth mother gave a false surname and no name for my birth father.  I would like to know if it’s possible for me, with the permission of my birth parents closest relatives, to change my legal birth certificate to include my birth parents and also change my surname to include my birthfather’s surname?

Kitty Leigh

A quick response followed:

Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately, since your birth parents are deceased you cannot change your pre-adoptive birth certificate in any way.

You mentioned a change to your post adoptive birth certificate which is in fact your legal birth certificate. To amend this you would need to have your adoption discharged for which you would need to seek legal advice. Should you succeed at this, you will then have the unamended pre-adoptive birth certificate as your legal one.

I hope this is of assistance. Kind regards,
Duty Officer

So essentially I need to go through legal channels to apply for an adoption discharge and therefore my pre-adoption birth certificate would become my legal one. My pre-adoption birth certificate has me as “Unnamed” and my birth mother as “Anne Watkins”, this is the very certificate I want changed.

Many will say this is something I should let go and the question around disrespecting my adopted parents would be raised time and time again and maybe it’s early days and I’m still in the so called ‘honeymoon’ period of finding my family and connecting to them and luckily for me it’s been a positive experience. But the driving force behind my wanting to correct my birth records is not just around connecting to my birth family but the connection to my true bloodline.

When I submitted my DNA to ancestry, no one from my adopted family appeared as a DNA match and that was the first visual evidence separating me from my adopted family. The features I have aren’t from by adopted family nor is my inherited health conditions, weird web toes, eye colour, hair colour or skin colour. Only environmental factors can be ‘inherited’ from an adopted family and there are studies that suggest environmental features can be inherited through bloodlines for up to 7 or more generations.

When I create family trees I don’t include step or adopted children which you probably think is short-sighted especially coming from me but I asked a few of my genealogy friends and they do the same which means I wouldn’t appear on any ancestral tree and that puts me right back to where I was before I found my birth family.

With my false records not even my birth family would find me so I wouldn’t appear on of my blood descendant’s family tree and I’m not happy with this outcome. I want to be relevant long after I die because I don’t believe in life after death other than the life found in family stories. It’s the research I do on my ancestors that brings them to life and I want the same to be true for me. Therefore, it’s crucial that my records reflect my bloodline.

So for me it’s not about dishonouring my family, it’s about honouring my descendants.