Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Franz Kafka -- born 70 years too soon

Can't give you a link (subscription only) but the BMJ reports on a Russsian woman whose only son Andrei died without issue, so she had his frozen sperm used to fertilize a donor egg, and the resulting baby was carried to term by a surrogate mother. Okay, so now Ekaterina Zakarova has the grandson she always dreamed of, right?

Not so fast. Since Andrei died two years before the baby was born, he cannot be legally registered as the father. Because the egg donor was anonymous, the baby also does not have a mother. Hence the baby does not legally exist, can't have a birth certificate, and has no relationship to Ekaterina, who is also too old, according to Russian law, to legally adopt him. The Civil Registry office has now gone to court to have the boy placed in an orphanage.

Ekaterina would have been better off, it seems, if she had never tried to get a birth certificate for the baby. When I was a youth, I met a hippie family -- well, semi-hippie, the father worked for the phone company, but they lived back in the woods and had a beautiful marijuana patch -- who decided not to register their son so he would be free of societal hassles. What those hassles were wasn't exactly defined, but in those days we all thought the future would somehow be radically different. A sweet little boy, with no birth certificate, no social security number, no official existence.

I don't know whether they ultimately sent him to school, and I don't suppose he would have needed to prove his existence for that purpose, but I wonder what happened when he first tried to get a driver's license, or a job? Born in the USA, he's an illegal immigrant from the 5th dimension. We all have to be in the computers, there's just no way around it.

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