Monday, November 8, 2010

Missing Persons

Last month, we got a surprise in the mail.

Dylan's amended birth certificate arrived. It was a surprise because we received it just three months and three days after his adoption was finalized. Since our state government is in such a mess right now, we'd been warned that it might take more than three times that long.

I must say, it was very nice for something in this adoption process to go more quickly and smoothly than anticipated.

As we have after passing through several of the small and large hurdles of our journey, M. and I did a little happy dance around our living room. (We did it quiety, though, since Dylan was napping.)

Other than astonished and relieved, how did receiving this important document make me feel? Kind of strange. Actually, kind of sad.

Next to the line that says "mother," my name is neatly typed. Next to the line that says "father," M.'s name is neatly typed. There is no trace of Dylan's first parents on the document. They've disappeared, been erased.

It would take only the very assute observer to recognize something atypical: that the date of birth and the date the certificate was issued are almost exactly a year apart. Otherwise, it just looks like I gave birth to our son (at a county hospital in some strange city, I might add).

In California, original birth certificates are sealed and can only be opened with a court order. This makes me sad.

It makes me sad because it seems to somehow dimish the link that Dylan has to his birth mother.

It makes me sad that, because so many states have birth certificates that lie by omission, it is such a challenge for birth parents and adoptees who want to find each other to be reunited.

It makes me sad because it is (so far, at least) the most blatant evidence we've personally encountered that there is still a stigma associated with adoption. I keep thinking, "Can't our state come up with a better, more truthful form that provides for all of an adoptee's parents, birth and legal?" But then I assume it's the way it is because there are lots of people who don't want their association with adoption known, for whatever reason. How sad.

Having "identifying information" without having to rely on a court order is another reason why I'm grateful for open adoption. Of course, despite what his new birth certificate says, Dylan will grow up knowing all that we know about his birth parents.


Lisa T. said...

I felt the same way, made what we were doing with an open adoption seem like a sham sort of. So I have his original birth certificate right next to the amended. :) Open adoption is such a monumental honor that it seems wrong to in a sense have them cut out of the birth certificate. I didn't give birth from my body, but rather made really hard, life altering and good decisions with adults looking out for the best interest of a child. That kind of love and planning should always be honored. I wonder if IAC could come up with a non-official record of birth that could include all parties, even if it was just in our records at home it could really mean something to our children someday.

Ginger said...

I have a copy of Cass's original birth certificate. I wonder if she'll be interested in it at some point or I should give it to her parents to keep.

I haven't seen the amended one.

Bobby said...

We didn't get an original (we adopted from CA as well) and only have the ammended, which arrived in about 3 months as well. We were told about six or more. I share your feelings on the original and the birth parent relationship. Hopefully our blogs and our relationships with others will help promote Open Adoption and reduce the stigma.

Johanna @ These Prices said...

I agree 100%. We'll also only get an amended birth certificate, but in UT, he can get the original when he turns 18. His birthmom also registered with the state, so if for some reason we were to lose contact, he could find her at age 18 through the registry. (But I hope we never lose contact!)

(A friend sent me your blog, because we were just matched AND placed this weekend with a newborn baby boy with NA heritage. Can't wait to read more!)

harriet glynn said...

We have our son's original birth certificate (called a certificate of live birth in BC, Canada) as well as his updated one which names us as his parents. I had no idea how unusual this is until I started reading American blogs. So crazy and wrong especially in open adoptions - I mean why? The good thing is, it doesn't really matter in that he knows his birthmom.