No matter how you feel about adoption, good or bad, I think all can agree that every individual born into this world has the right to their original birth certificate. In case you really don’t understand why this is so important and a basic human right, I’m going to break down the major elements of a birth certificate.
Do you know your name? Does what you know to be your name match what’s on your birth certificate? If it does, then you’re lucky. Many adoptees find a different name on their original birth certificates when it is finally released to them. What does that mean? Well it means someone (the woman who gave birth) cared enough to provide a name that meant something to them. It also means that someone else (adoptive parents) changed that name to something that meant something to THEM. The adoptive parents probably didn’t even know there was a name given. How does that dichotomy make one feel? Torn? Lied to? Betrayed? “Special”? Whatever the feeling is, it’s unique to each adoptee who finds themselves with two different names and not something anyone should have to face or deal with.
Do you know your birth date? What if the date you always knew to be your birthday didn’t match what’s on your birth certificate? What if this happened to you and what does it mean? It means that someone was careless or even worse, it means someone deliberately lied about the actual day. It leaves adoptees wondering why something as simple as a birth date can’t even be recorded in honesty. It causes one to feel like they can’t trust anything or anyone when it comes to their history.
Mother of child:
Do you know your mother’s name? It would be pretty upsetting not to know who your mom is. Think about that and then think of the many adoptees who don’t know and will never know the name of their mother because it is locked away. Some would argue that your “mom” is whoever you want it to be. It’s the person who raised you and loved you, named you and birthed you from her heart. I agree that my “mom” is the one who raised me as her own. But I never forgot about the woman who was my mother; the one who raised me in her body, spoke to me and nurtured me for 9 months. Why am I expected to forget that she existed and that is my history? Maybe she’s not my “mom” but she is my mother, no question about that. So many people will never get to know the name of the mother of the child even though it is DNA, it is history, it is fact.
Father of child:
Do you know your father’s name? I could repeat the above paragraph in this one but it is a little different. Many, many adoptees will never know the name of their father because he is typically not named on the original birth certificate. Unless you find your mother and she is willing to tell you who your father is, you will likely never find out his name. This is common even with non-adoptees so I think more people can relate to the pain of not knowing the name of your father. Yes, I have a dad who raised me and I love him more than any other man on this earth but it doesn’t make my history and DNA just disappear like it never existed.
There are other elements of a birth certificate that are like pieces of a puzzle that tell a person where they came from and who they are like place of birth and whether or not there are other children born to the mother. I’m lucky in that my amended birth certificate kept my real location of birth so I always knew at least that. I at least knew where I was born and believe me I was very proud to have that bit of truth my whole life without having to fight for it. As for siblings, no one can deny how huge of a loss that is, as well. Not only is a baby losing their mother and family, they may also be losing brothers and/or sisters. Yes, we also gained a new family and that is a true blessing! However, the addition of a wonderful and loving new family does not negate the loss of the original family.
There are fun elements like time of birth that most adoptees will never have the privilege of knowing. You know how mothers like to call their children at their time of birth to say happy brithday? It’s simple and not a significant piece of information but if you don’t have it then it feels like a hole on your timeline. Just the simple fact of NOT knowing when I was born on my birthday makes me feel like no one cared. It makes me feel like the entire period of time when my mother began labor until I was whisked away to the nursery for adoption was inconsequential and that it didn’t matter. Well it did matter because it was my beginning to life and it mattered.
Keeping all of this information from an adoptee is just plain wrong. And can we all just really ask ourselves WHY… Why is it or was it important to lock away someone’s true history and replace it with a new one? It is admirable to adopt a child who needs a home so why hide any trace of the adoption? Whether it is an open or closed adoption or something in between, every person has the right to know where they come from and who created them. The original birth certificate holds the key to unlock the secrets of our past that should never have been locked in the first place. So you see, it is not just a simple piece of paper. It documents our existence and is the basis on which we build our truths with basic facts such as our name, when we were born, and who are our parents. This is the foundation on which our experiences and environment builds who we become. Knowing that we have different original parents that relinquished us only enhances our ability to grow and appreciate the second chance we were given.
So I ask you, whether you are adopted or not, to please fight for open records.