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Stephenville woman fighting to have late partners name on daughters birth certificate


Contessa LaSaga of Stephenville wants her daughter Rozalind to have her late dads name on her birth certificate. Star Photo by Frank Gale

STEPHENVILLE - Contessa LaSaga wants her baby to have her deceased father's name on her birth certificate, however, she is having trouble doing it.

According to Vital Statistics, she's been told it's not possible under the current legislation.
The Stephenville woman was pregnant for her fiancÉ, Lindsey White, when he died suddenly at the age of 27 of a heart attack on Oct. 7, 2007. Their baby Rozalind, was born on May 3, 2008 after White's death, and LaSaga has been trying since to have his name on her daughter's birth certificate, but has ran into one problem after the other.

"I went to Vital Statistics and even talked to the former director, Brenda Andrews, and was told that this has never been in the legislation and until the legislation changes, they can't do anything for me," LaSaga said.

She feels her late fiancÉ has the right to have his name on his daughter's birth certificate. If he were still alive, his name would certainly would be there, she said. She also said his family is supportive and willing to do whatever they have to do to get his name there.
LaSaga said she even went the court route with it, and was told a judge won't look at it because the legislation is not in place.

"I spoke with a receptionist at provincial court in Stephenville and filled out a declaration of parenting, which is what I was advised to do by Vital Statistics. After dropping off the papers and going back the receptionist said a judge wouldn't be able to look at it for me," she said.

LaSaga has made contact with the office of her member of the House of Assembly, Tony Cornect, and is hoping something will come from that.

She said while she can put any surname on the certificate for her baby, the benefit of having the name of her baby's father on the birth certificate is that Rozalind would then be eligible to receive an orphan's pension, which would be a big financial support to her as a single mom.

LaSaga said White died with no life insurance and losing him was difficult enough.
"If there was anything positive that could come out of a sudden tragedy like this is that Rozalind could have her father's name on her birth certificate and I feel she deserves it," said LaSaga. "I feel even if she couldn't receive an orphan's benefit, she still deserves to have her father's name on the certificate indicating he is legally her father."

LaSaga said she was told that if she had a signed affidavit from White, he could be put on his daughter's birth certificate.

"Who, at 27 years of age, thinks of something like that?" he asked. "He had a sudden heart attack and there was no way for us to know that was going to happen. It's not like he died of an illness that went on for some time," she said.

LaSaga said there is a problem with a system that has nothing in place for a situation like hers. She said whatever means it would take, she would be willing to do it even if it meant DNA testing.

With nowhere else to turn, LaSaga decided to go to the media in the hopes that somebody will be able to lend assistance or guidance towards getting her fiancÉ's name on her daughter's birth certificate.

Vanessa Colman-Sadd, director of communications for the Department of Government Services, said as the legislation stands now, unless the couple is married the child will have the mother's name unless the father agrees to having his name on the certificate.

She said unfortunately cases like this, where a parent dies, happen from time to time and such requests come forward more often when the man dies.

Colman-Sadd said government is reviewing the Vital Statistics Act, and this is one of the pieces that will be under consideration. She said the department is leaning towards the spring session for that and the review will certainly be within a year.

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