Original Birth Certificates

My husband’s brother recently passed.  When he went back to his hometown for the services, he was able to reconnect with family, friends, sights and sounds of his hometown.  He was able to visit his father’s grave site for the first time.   It was a poignant and moving time for him.  His older sister gave him an envelope filled with some of his old papers.  Among them was his original birth certificate.  Seeing it made me cry because I will never ever be allowed to see or touch my own.

Its funny what triggers that sadness.  A little piece of paper that so many people take for granted.  The one piece of paper that solely belongs to you.  It is all about you and nobody but you.  

My husband’s birth certificate has all kinds of information :  his time of birth, place, hospital, the attendant, his father’s occupation, and where he worked, how many other children his mother had….. Just amazing.  I stared at it for what seemed like hours.  

And then I looked at his next piece of memorabilia:  his Certificate of Birth Registration.  That is what I have.  It’s not the same thing.  One outlines all the details of one’s entrance into this world and this other just “certif[ies] that a birth certificate has been filed for….. ”  It lists your name, the day you were born and the names of both your parents.  That is it.  Not the same thing at all.  

And most adoptees can attest to this.  Having one and not the other is a clear impediment to a lot of things.  Identification, passports, jobs, travel visas, etc….

This is why I fight against the current adoption laws today.  Not because I am against adoption.  Let me say it one more time:  done ethically and with regard to the child, adoption is a beautiful thing.  However, we are not second class citizens.  We deserve equal protection under the law.  This is why I fight for the children who have no voice right now and have no idea the challenges they are about to face.

Until we are heard, I will fight for every child’s right to have their Original Birth Certificate.  To have the one piece of paper in the world that belongs to no one else. 


About sjwoods318

Mother of six children - five girls and one boy; wife; community organizer, family chauffeur, philosopher, trans-racial adoptee, Deadhead, person of mixed racial heritage, artist, poet, writer who loves to swim, read, and run around with my family.
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5 Responses to Original Birth Certificates

  1. Judith Land says:

    Adoptees are not “Permanent Children” in need of lifelong supervision and protection. Most children when grown, think of their birth parents with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness.

  2. Judith Land says:

    “I was issued a false birth certificate and a false baptismal certificate. When I finally obtained a copy of my original baptismal certificate it curiously contained the names of my foster parents as sponsors, not my adopted parents, but this evidence of fraud was enough to stimulate my curiosity and launch a thorough investigation. Separation from biological antecedents, native language, geographic region, social group, and cultural heritage evoked a nefarious sense of genealogical bewilderment that stimulated an inherent need for a more comprehensive self-identity. Through diligence and hard work and an optimistic personality with a positive outlook I was eventually able to solve the mystery of my origin.” —Judith Land, author & adoptee

    • It is so much work isn’t it? And we don’t have “old Aunt Sally” who knows the whole family history. I have actually been able to get pictures of my maternal great-great grandmother from her husband’s nephew, who lives in Australia! What is ironic, she could have been my adoptive grandmother’s twin! The similarities are striking. But what a journey! And I am a third generation adoptee. But my ancestors wanted to be found, they left a very solid bread crumb trail.

  3. Judith Land says:

    Wow! Your international connections sound interesting. I wonder sometimes— “What’s in it for the social worker who keeps secrets and pronounces judgement?”

    After meeting with Miss Schweinhaus, the social worker who handled my adoption case three decades ago, I slept fitfully and woke my husband by inadvertently kicking him in the back while dreaming I was wrestling with Miss Schweinhaus on the floor, trying to gain control of the manila folder containing my adoption records.

    In the morning, I had a clearer vision about what it really meant to be banished forever into isolation and pounded into submission as an adoptee. The policies and secrecy laws passed to keep children separated from their true identity were finally becoming clear because they affected me personally. Until that day, I had never understood the significance and powers of attorneys entrusted to strangers to make monumental life-changing decisions governing the lives of adopted children. The social worker had made it clear that she was opposed to adoption reunions, and she had offered no empathy, condolences, remedies, or hope for the future. She never smiled, and she had remained expressionless during our entire conversation. I was acutely aware of the lifelong psychological harm done to infants when bonding opportunities with their birth mothers were denied because they were the same negative symptoms I had displayed as a child. I had sorely missed the opportunity to bond with my birth mother, and I was still projecting the same sorrowful maternal yearnings, as one of Harry Harlow’s rhesus monkeys desperately clinging to a rag doll in a laboratory science experiment. Nobody really cared about me as long as I obeyed the law. If I really wanted to discover my roots, it was up to me and me alone. [Ref: Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child, pp. 119-120]

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