So often there are news stories about the poor decisions some parents make when it comes to their new baby's name, but there is a bigger story that has been brewing for one family over the name on a birth certificate, and it isn't their child's.
Donnell Teal and girlfriend Meaghan McCraw had little Lillian in 2017, but even though Donnell is the baby's father, when the birth certificate came, McCraw's estranged husband, who she hasn't been with for years, was listed as Lillian's dad, all because of an old law in their state, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's Uniform Parentage Act dictates that the state's Vital Records Department automatically notes the mother's husband as the father, even if they are separated. At the time of Lillian's birth, McCraw's divorce from her ex hadn't yet been finalized, and since then, her ex has been using the birth certificate as leverage in the divorce, costing the new parents thousands to fix the issue.
Donnell told KFOR News, "The day I held my daughter in my arms I cried. I said, 'Hey this is my daughter.' The hospital put it on the temporary birth certificate, and the state later said, 'No it's not, it's this man's.''' A spokesperson for the state explained, "By law, Oklahoma presumes the spouse is the second parent. That is consistent with other states and is a fundamental part of the Uniform Parentage Act which establishes the uniform legal framework for establishing parent-child relationships."
Parents can alter the records if the father listed signs a denial of paternity and the true father signs an acknowledgement of paternity. If anyone refuses, a DNA test can be administered and a court can then remove the incorrect parent from the birth certificate. McCraw stated, "This allowed my ex-husband to get what he wanted in the divorce because he had legal rights over my daughter."
Local politicians and even the governor were no help to the couple, suggesting they hire a lawyer. The pair wound up going to court to force Meaghan's ex to confirm he was not the father. After two years, they eventually got the certificate fixed but only after spending a lot of time and money on the issue. Now, they are hoping to have the law changed.
Donnell said, "In today's world, there are a lot of different types of relationships - some of them self-explanatory, some of them complicated - that could produce a child. I think it's wrong that the state is denying fathers like me rights to our child. Once the court had established that I was her father, we began petitioning the governors. We petitioned senators and the attorney general, and none of them really want anything to do with it. They seem more inclined to uphold the status quo and the state authority versus the individual rights of parents."
As yet, none of the politicians have reconsidered their stance on the matter. In happier news though, Donnell and Meaghan are now married.