Adoption

Strange Doings

Last week I went online to order a copy of my birth certificate. Somewhere I have an old copy, but I have squirreled it away so carefully I could not find it. Perhaps this is a sign of age. Perhaps this is a sign of being ENFP. Perhaps this gives off a whiff of chaos.

I decided that the surest way to find it would be to order a fresh copy. I sent off for mine and for #1 Son’s since we were both born in that far away Southern Commonwealth and need them to get our passports.

After a lot of befuddlement, I ended up on the phone with the service that arranges quick shipping of vital records. I gave them my date and county and town of birth. I gave them my father’s name and my mother’s maiden name.

As an adopted person, I really have two birth certificates, one from before the adoption, and one adjusted after the adoption was final. I remember when I was seeking my birthmother almost twenty years ago, I wondered what it would be like to see the other certificate. What names would have appeared? Would my birth father’s name have been on it?

When I opened the package this morning, I had a shock. Everything on it was as I expected, with one exception. My mother’s name was given as “First Name, Middle Name, Maiden Name Not of Adoptive Mother But of Birth Mother.”

Now, I know my birth mother’s name already, so it is not new information. But what an odd sensation to see the two names in combination. And what if I hadn’t already known?

I guess I will call and insist that they send me the legally correct birth certificate. Meanwhile, do I dare go and apply for a passport with this one?

It’s an odd feeling to have a document that is yours, but is not yours, all at the same time.

10 thoughts on “Strange Doings”

  1. I cannot begin to imagine how that must feel. I think you make a very good point…what if you had not already known?

  2. I have copies of both my adopted children’s Original Certificates. It is odd. My son has the same first name on both. My daughter is a totally different person, only the birthdate is the same. I believe in open records. I think all adult adoptees should have access to all information about them. Sometimes I think there needs to be an adoption certificate rather than a birth certificate, that emcompasses all parents. I know in some situations this wouldn’t be safe or practical. Plus it may be uncomfortable for some adoptees.
    I hide things in safe places that are so safe I never remember where they are too.

  3. Your last statement haunts me. That’s how I feel about my birth certificate–my only birth certificate. I feel as if it’s not really about me, it’s just a piece of paper I have to have to legally be a human being who exists. But it has nothing to do with who I am.

  4. Yes, this legal document is a fiction. The whole thing feels very odd. I think one of the reasons I love being a pseudonymous blogger is having a name that is really mine in a way that none of the others are.

  5. I am confused … did the clerk make a mistake and send you your original birth certificate, or are both of your mothers’ names on the certificate?
    I just got the non-identifying information on my adoption from the state in which the adoption was finalized, and it was very powerful stuff. They will do an identifying search for me if I request it (mutual consent required for contact, though) … I am unsure. I don’t know how I’d feel to see my original name/birth mother’s name on a certificate together. Strange, I think.

  6. Ruth, an error was made, somehow. Using a pseudonymous example, let’s say my mothers’ names are Mary Lacey Higginbotham (adoptive) and Grace Susan Franklin (birth). The birth certificate gave the mother’s name as Mary Lacey Franklin. The age and place of birth were correct for my adoptive mother.
    There’s no question that taking it another step is a huge decision.

  7. I do think that you are right about how the shock could affect the unknowing; I am thankful to see more adoptions are open these days. Yes, I am trying not to over-commit with KALs this summer, and am sticking with only two.. the Trek Along and the Sock Kit.

  8. Wow, what an experience. I started laughing when I read the post because I have done the same thing with not only my birth certificate but those of my children. Someday I will find them and it will all seem so obvious. But the story about receiving the birth certificate gave me shivers. I, too, am adopted and I met both my birth parents 17 years ago. And I have looked at my revised birth certificate (back when I knew where it was) and typed along the margin near the parent’s names it said “Abridged.” I always wondered what the original would have looked like, too. I don’t remain in contact with my birth mother and remain confident that God’s hand was definitely involved when I was placed for adoption and raised not as Jennifer but as Mary. Blessing to you!

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