The Confidential Birth Act is intended to allow women in distress to give birth anonymously while establishing the child's right to know its origins. Experts believe that the balancing act succeeds.
Caller sounds distressed: she's heavily pregnant, labor pains already coming every seven minutes. No one knows about her pregnancy, and no one should know either. The woman at the other end of the line tries to help quickly and without complications. An ambulance is organized to go to an arranged location to pick up the pregnant woman.
Finally, she can give birth to her child – in a hospital. And she does not have to give her name to the doctors. Instead, she notes it, puts the letter in a sealed envelope, which is kept in a safe place. It can only be viewed by their child when he or she is 16 years old.
Confidential birth has been possible for the past five years
Cases like this are everyday life for the employees of the help hotline for pregnant women in emergency situations. Women repress or conceal their pregnancy – for example, because they are not in an intact relationship or have been victims of sexual violence; because they do not know how to deal with the situation.
For five years, such a – confidential – birth is possible. It is meant to help desperate mothers in a seemingly hopeless situation, when no one should know about the pregnancy. The mother can give birth under medical supervision and remain anonymous. At the same time, the corresponding law is intended to establish the child's right to know its origin.
If the pregnant woman opts for a confidential birth, her details are recorded in a certificate of origin. These will be kept sealed at the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society Tasks, where the child will receive them from the age of 16. can see it at the age of 16.
Only in specially justified cases can the mother maintain her anonymity. So then she has to prove that the child's insight "may cause her a danger to life, health, personal liberty or similar interests worthy of protection".
Sharp rise in anonymous child deliveries
Experts believe that this balancing act is succeeding: The number of exclusively anonymous births – including the baby hatch – without medical care and the deposit of the name is decreasing. This is now also the result of an evaluation that Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) presented in Berlin on Tuesday: According to it, there have been about 570 confidential births since the law was introduced and about 2.200 counseling sessions.
Of the women counseled, just under a quarter chose to live with the child and slightly more than a fifth chose a confidential birth, according to the report. 13.7 percent gave their child up for regular adoption. Almost 12 percent of women opted for abortion.
The strong increase in the anonymous child deliveries, which according to ministry information in previous years was noticeable, is thus declining. Four years ago, for example, 157 children were delivered anonymously; in 2016, there were 151 children. Previously, the number had risen from 46 to 147 in the years from 2003 to 2013. If this trend had continued, the experts are sure that significantly more anonymous child deliveries would have been expected in the years to come.
In a few years, children whose mothers used confidential birth today will be able to see their certificate of origin. Carmen Thiele of the Federal Association of Foster and Adoptive Families explained how important this can be for children. Biological origin is part of identity, she stressed. Thus, origin plays an enormous role.
By Birgit Wilke