I never paid much attention to my birth certificate – it wasn’t something special or that I thought about much, and if I remember correctly the first time I saw it was on my 16th birthday when I went to get my driver’s license.
The next time I saw it I used it was to get my passport so I could immigrate to Canada and to get my marriage license.
I cannot remember doing more than giving it a cursory glance either time mom gave it to me, I really only looked to make sure she gave me mine and not one of my siblings.
It just wasn’t special and held no fascination or appeal – just a document that stated the details I already knew and could access any old-time, but that I needed it to get what I wanted. I’m sure I still have that birth certificate mom gave me so many years ago but which box or where it is, I haven’t a clue. When I took out my citizenship I just ordered a new one knowing that would be quicker and easier that looking for the old one, in one of those old dusty boxes that have followed me wherever I have moved.
But yet more than four decades after I was born – the day I got my original birth certificate in the mail is a day I will never forget. I came in from the mail box, sat down on the couch and carefully opened the manilla envelope. I gently pulled out the single piece of paper and instantly had a flash of anger that someone had dared to fold this precious document in half that had been denied me my entire life.
I checked my name: (Baby Girl) XXXXXXX and was crushed – I was not named, at least officially.
I checked my date of birth: Relief flooded over me – my date was right.
My mothers name and address listed clear as day – it was so very surreal to see it listed on my birth certificate and all the details matched the court papers I had recently received.
I was a single birth: Kind of mixed feelings about that, on one hand relief that I did not have a twin out their somewhere, but on the other had I had always secretly wished I did.
It did not list my time of birth and each time I talk to my aunt I forget to ask until I have hung up the phone, and even if she only remembers I was born during the day or night that would suffice.
I now know how much I weighed at birth, and how many weeks my mother carried me.
I stared in wonder at my original birth certificate, bemused.
That birth certificate now hangs framed on my wall and I look at it each day – proof of who I was born to be, who bore me, who birthed me, when and where. Knowledge withheld from me for over four decades simply because the adoption industry, religious adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and sometimes even the ACLU lobby and testify against adoptees knowing who they were born to be.
Words cannot describe the feeling of having this true record of my birth that is denied to most adoptees.
And for those who say we have an open adoption so there are no secrets – your childs original birth certificate is still sealed away and your child is deemed “less than” and “not equal” just like the rest of us denied that right.
It is wrong for one class of people (adopted) to be denied what non-adopted people take for granted and don’t even give it a second thought. To the non-adopted it is just a document and what is the fuss really about, they don’t get it, they know who they were born to be, and all the details of their birth. I think they need to realize that they suffer from non-adopted privilege and cannot and will never understand what it is like to be adopted and accept that we know better and they should stand up and support our right to know too…….and that goes double for AP’s…are you going to the next adoptee rights demonstration to throw your support behind the adoptees – so your adoptees too can have equal rights?
Good luck at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Texas - I will be their with you in spirit only and wish I could be there in person.