birth certificate and finalization
May 7, 2013 § 27 Comments
This is something I started writing a few weeks ago.
Well, this is an embarrassing story to tell, but I didn’t know how sealed the original birth certificate was. I should have known that “sealed” means “lost forever.” For some reason, though, I thought there was a chance I could get a copy of it. A few weeks ago, I tried searching around the internet to find out if I could obtain the original one. I couldn’t find a precise law about the way that it worked. I know the original OBC is sealed, but I didn’t know if it was sealed from me. I put in a request anyway and just decided to see. Now, I know people are probably thinking, “jeez Ariel, of course you can’t get the birth certificate” and I knew there was a chance of that. But I also thought there was a chance of getting it. It’s just another depressing trinket for the wooden box in my closet, right? Nothing important.
I was surprised by how much it hurt to not get the birth certificate. It’s one more thing that makes our connection less tangible. The lady from the Office of Vital Records called me a few days after I submitted the request, saying she couldn’t find it. She sounded baffled. I said, “Okay, never mind then” because I knew exactly why she couldn’t find it.
“Well, was he born here or somewhere else?” the lady pressed. I told her he was born here, but he was adopted in [state name] and his parents named him [full name].
“And are you the…birthmom?” “Yes.”
After a moment, she said, “I found that entry. The adoption was finalized on February 12th. You can get the birth certificate up until it finalizes, and then it’s sealed. I’m sorry, they should’ve told you.”
Yes, indeed, “they” should have told me a lot of things. I didn’t ask her to, but she was nice enough to refund my money back on my card. They technically could have kept it because you pay a “search fee” when you request a birth certificate.
Of course, the record existed openly within my reach for 6 months, and it still exists somewhere, in an encrypted, court order protected kind of way. But if the lady working at the Office of Vital Records can’t find it, it’s the exact same thing as if that paper was burned. As if that part of the baby’s life with me and David was erased. I’ve read 1984 several times, and I’m reminded of the rewriting of records, the alteration of deleted people as “unpersons,” and the incineration of original documents. The original birth certificate, in the memory hole. The birth name, unimportant. My name and David’s name were on the lines that specified “mother” and “father,” on a document that existed for 6 months, and I never got to see it.
And the baby has a new name, officially. I named him after David, because I love the name and David’s dad (the birth grandpa) is also a David. I really shouldn’t have picked a meaningful name. It hurt a lot more when C and L chose a different first name for him. It’s sort of amazing, how stupid I was then. Aside from hating that they changed his name, I hate the name itself. It makes me think of Harvey the giant rabbit. It’s just a stupid name, especially with their last name.
I’m over the birth certificate thing, now. I don’t need it. What’s one more reminder that I have no connection to the baby? We are not together, and that alone is a loud enough reminder. I do feel bad that I could’ve gotten the original birth certificate, if I had thought of it, but it never occurred to me. He probably won’t care about having it in the future, but if he does, I’ll have let him down. In yet another way.
The mentions of adoption finalization made me sad, too. I had to remind myself that it has nothing to do with me, because my parental rights were terminated one day after birth, effective immediately upon signing. Being an unparent was already as final as it gets. It had to do with C and L becoming his legal parents. I wondered how that went. They must’ve been excited. They must’ve dressed up to go to court and celebrated afterwards. I wouldn’t know.
It’s weird to think how, up until that point, the agency was still having regular contact with them and checking in. The agency didn’t contact me after I left the hospital. I wonder what they’d say if C and L asked about me. I have no doubt they would’ve fed them lies about how well I’m doing. I wonder how long it would take them to find out if I died, or if they would assume that I disappeared. I suddenly realized that if something ever happened to one of them, I would certainly find out on my own, but no one would tell me and I would not find out very quickly. It’s better not to wonder about that.