The inconvenient truth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am


While couples opting for home births may be spared gratuitous medical intervention, securing a birth certificate for their baby can be troublesome.

The Immigration Department requires newborns to obtain a birth certificate within 42 days. Hospitals will send details of babies born in their care to the department for processing as a matter of course.

Parents can also obtain birth certificates from the Births and Deaths General Register Office, but home birth dad Fung Kin-hang says the process takes three months.

'It's very inconvenient,' he says. 'It took just 15 minutes for my friend to get the certificate for his newborn at the office. But we had to get a doctor to write a statement that the baby was born. Then my wife and I had to go to the Immigration Department headquarters to make a declaration, detailing the whole birth process.

'Our friend also had to make a declaration as a witness. Immigration officials visited our home later to inspect the environment and our photos to ensure it was a real home birth and we had not smuggled a baby from the mainland.'

The couple also encountered difficulties when they took their daughter to a maternal and child health centre. 'We went for the check-up a week after she was born. The staff didn't know how to handle our case. In the end, they regarded us as non-residents and made us pay more than HK$1,000 for the free check-ups. Although we were reimbursed later, it was a lot of trouble.'