Birth Certificates: Erasing Birth Parents’ Names

Should birth parents’ names be erased from birth certificates and replaced with adoptive parents’ names?  Rebecca of Fosterhood wrote a very moving and thought-provoking piece on why this practice should be banned.  All My Pretty Ones wrote additional support.  And I agree with Rebecca and AMPO … to a point.

Erasing Birth Parents’ Names Denies their Importance

Birth parents play an incredibly important role in children’s lives.  They gave the children life, their looks, their temperament, etc.  Birth parents should most definitely be respected, honored and cherished, and falsifying who really gave birth or fathered children seems to be unbelievably disrespectful.

Official Documents Should be Truthful

I don’t want my name to be listed as having given birth to my son (it wouldn’t be true!).  It’s a record of his BIRTH.  Why should government employees be knowingly and willfully faking official records?

Adoption is Awesome

Why create a lie?  Adoption is no longer a cause for shame.  We are proud of our son’s heritage, history and first family.  We think adoption is an awesome choice and way to make a family.  Open adoption is the norm now.

BUT…

Adoptees Have the Right to Disclose

My son, like many other adoptees, likes to decide who to tell about his life history.  If he knows you, likes you, and feels comfortable, he may choose to reveal this intensely personal aspect of his life.  Birth certificates are used in many different transactions: registering for school, getting a driver’s license, getting a marriage license, etc.  Why should he be forced to share his story with random strangers if he doesn’t feel comfortable?  And let me tell you that school officials will make certain assumptions about your child based off of adoptive status! (argh!)

Older, Foster Adoptees Particularly Sensitive

Children adopted at an older age and children adopted out of foster care may be particularly sensitive about wanting control over to whom and how to disclose their adoptive status.  Having lived with birth parents for a period of their lives, having suffered trauma and loss, they often are highly selective about with whom they talk about adoption.  Can they trust this person with their biggest, deepest emotions?  It raises such painful memories.  And people tend to ask probing questions about what it was like.  And sometimes (uneducated) people think differently of children after they disclose.

So  I have no clear answer here.  What are your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Birth Certificates: Erasing Birth Parents’ Names

  1. Great point! Perhaps just allowing the adoptee to have access including official copies of both the original and amended birth certificates would solve the problem. As you get children the amended one could be used for school and such, and the original would simply be accessible for them as an official record of birth only.

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  2. I understand your concern but I dont think it is reason enough to continue creating false documents and locking away originals. Adopted persons are sent so many mixed messages. You are special, chosen, loved but it’s a secret because someone might treat you different because they see you as unwanted and a problem sure to have issues. Adopted persons are often at war with themselves- do I have value or not. Erasing and hiding sends messages of secrecy and shame. School and other officials will have their opinions- and it is them who need to be educated and change their point of view- just like so many other issues- race, culture, sexual orientation, learning disabilities. It’s time for the world to listen to the needs of adopted people- we are the ones most affected and least listened to when it comes to adoption. This is a chance for you to listen to what your son thinks and would prefer. (Not implying you don’t) thanks for valuing birth families and askinng the hard questions

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful response, rhegankim82. I definitely don’t have the answer on this one – it’s so complicated! My son wants to be the one deciding when and with whom to share his adoption history, so he prefers a birth certificate that is “just like everybody else’s.” Probably this reflects a teenager’s way of thinking. I have a certified copy of the original with his first mom and dad’s names, which I consider to be his true birth certificate. I know we are lucky in that aspect, as so many adoptees are denied their original birth certificates. I struggle sometimes as I would like to educate people who need to be enlightened, but remind myself that my son’s life is just that – HIS. So I try to balance being respectful of his privacy and advocating for foster care, adoption, birth parents, fosters/adoptees, and foster/adoptive parents. FYI, I asked my son about whether he was ok with me writing about his story in this blog and he said yes as long as real names aren’t used. I guess that’s my way of striking the balance.

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  3. It is complicated- but the more adopted parents that can be aware and concerned for the needs of their children the better. I can understand how one might want a birth certificate like eveyone elses. At the very least the states need to stop locking away originals. Even though i have found my birth mother i still do not have access to minex i would have to hire a lawyer and open my file with a court order. Its maddening.

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