Apparently, a few days before the US killed Osama Bin Laden, President Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate. In the adoption community, many people – especially adult adoptees – noted that most adoptees would not be able to furnish such a document. You see, in almost all states, adult adoptees are not allowed access to their original birth certificates (OBCs).
When a person is born, a birth certificate is created. When a person is adopted, that birth certificate is changed, or amended, to reflect who the person’s parents are.
Many adoptees, and some people who aren’t adoptees, call the amended birth certificate a lie. I wrote about it at AdoptionBlogs.com, just over two years ago. I vehemently disagree.
Regardless of the history of the birth certificate, at this point, the birth certificate is not a medical record. It is a legal document. Legally, I am my son’s mother. Fine. In an adoption, this is pretty straightforward. But there are other situations in which the biological parent differs from the one who might legally be a parent. In embryo adoption, the biological parents are completely different than the legal parents, and the biological mother is not the mother who gave birth to the child. In surrogacy, the woman who gives birth may or may not be the biological mother, and the legal father may or may not be the biological father. There’s egg donation and sperm donation to think about. Who’s on the birth certificate then?
I have often thought that there should be an additional two fields on birth certificates: Biological Father and Biological Mother. But I recently read a comment on an adoption blog that made me question that. I can’t find the blog post right now, but I know the person who commented is another adoptive parent blogger. She wrote that it wasn’t anyone’s business to know that her children are adopted. She wants that information to be private for them to share as they wish. She further stated that, if the children’s biological parents were listed, that would cause others in their community to treat them differently, as these people were well known (and not in a good way).
(ETA: I found the comment! It’s jensboys.)
As I’ve always said, there are two issues here: Access to original birth certificates and the birth certificates themselves.
I believe that all people should have unfettered access to their original birth certificates.
I also believe that my son’s birth certificate is correct. My name – his mother’s name – is Robyn Chittister, and his father’s name is Robert Chittister. (Yes, Robert. That’s another post.) Nowhere on his birth certificate does it say he was born to me. On my own birth certificate, the Attendant’s Certification reads “I hereby certify that I attended this birth and that the child was born at the hour, date, and place stated above.” Notice that the attendant doesn’t certify that the child was born to these parents.
The “amended birth certificates are lies” people say that the adoption decree should be enough to satisfy the legal question as to who the child’s parents are. Using the adoption decree simply isn’t practical.
- Adoption decrees are long legalese documents, not one-pagers.
- It would be extremely easy to fake an adoption decree. I think ours was done from a standard Word template. There’s not even a letterhead or a seal, though the judge did sign it at the end.
- Why is it everyone’s business that the child was adopted? No, adoption isn’t something we should be ashamed of, but every individual should be able to decide if he really wants to share that information with the college registrar, the HR guy, the town clerk, the passport office…
- What about situations in which the biological parents didn’t give birth to the child? Who’s listed on the birth certificate in the case of embryo adoption or egg or sperm donation?
I suppose the nice thing about a blog is that I can rant and rave about these things, even though no one probably cares. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.