Most people have a birth certificate, and it shows their birthparents’ names. Proof of age is very important in so many circumstances. Our children were often required to give a copy of their birth certificate to sport teams, schools, and the DMV!
In adoption, birth certificates are an even bigger deal. When an adoption is legally finalized, the original birth certificate is replaced with a new one. In a closed adoption, like mine, my original birth certificate was sealed away in a vault—by law, it was sealed forever. The new, or amended, birth certificate had the names of my parents who adopted me, my mom and dad.
In my memoir, I reserve the names, mom and dad, for my parents. My birthparents are my birthmother and birthfather, or mother and father. So, at a glance, the reader knows who’s who!
Once I knew my birthmother’s name, I decided to ask for my original birth certificate. It was a tricky process, but thankfully, I succeeded. What a joy to hold that simple document, a lawful and legitimate record of my illegitimate birth!
When I showed it to my son, he said he was surprised it wasn’t framed and on display—he knew how important an original birth certificate was to me. It is the only record I have that includes my birthmother’s name, her signature, my name, and my date of birth. That is who I was until my parents took me home at eight months. In fact, legally, my first name was my name until my adoption was finalized. I was almost two years old. That’s a long time to have a different legal identity!