Dad's name on birth cert so that child 'won't be treated differently'

Anna's relationship with her boyfriend of one year was already on the rocks when the 18-year-old found out she was pregnant.

Her boyfriend, who is a year older than she is and serving national service then, asked her to go for an abortion. Anna (not her real name) could not bear to do so, after seeing an ultrasound scan of the foetus.

Now 21, she has since broken up with the father of her child. She suspected him of cheating on her and felt he was not involved in raising their son, who is now two.

Anna said she listed his name as the father on her son's birth certificate. His family wanted her to do so as he was helping to support the boy by giving her $300 a month.

She added: "Society is judgmental and I worry that his teachers may treat him differently if there is no father's name in his birth certificate."

Ms Jennifer Heng, founder of the DaySpring New Life Centre, which helps pregnant women in need, said some unwed mothers, like Anna, list the father's name in the baby's birth certificate as they feel that it is best for the child if they do so.

They do so even if they have broken up with the man or have a strained relationship with the baby's father, so that the child will not feel different from other children or, worse, be ridiculed.

Anna's main worry now is making ends meet. Jobless and unwed, she gets by with the help of some financial aid from the Government. An orphan, she found it hard to keep her job with a young child to look after and no family member to help her.

In her former job as an administrative assistant, she took leave once too often as her son was sick and her boss was not pleased. Single motherhood is stressful, she said. "I have no back-up at all."

Theresa Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Dad's name on birth cert so that child 'won't be treated differently''. Print Edition | Subscribe