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My Birth Certificate Is a Lie

I received my real birth certificate on January 27, 2016. Colorado adoption laws had changed and allowed me to purchase my birth certificate for 37 dollars. There is so much wrong with the state monetizing an adoptee’s right to know who bore them. I assumed I would tear into that letter from the state as soon as I got it. Instead, I sat there with the envelope in my hand, fully aware that my life would be altered once opened. Given a name, I was sure it would take no time to find a trail leading me to my birth mother. I was ready but not ready on that day. I placed that envelope in a drawer and did not open it until three weeks later.

As an adoptee, I know we can get excited to rip back the veil of secrecy surrounding our births, but I caution you to temper that excitement and be ready for what may follow. Being an adoptee and birth mother, I proceeded on this journey with both perspectives in play. I was excited for my origin story to come to light and imagined, at some point, my birth son going through the same process as he strived to uncover his own. I had signed up for the Colorado Adoption Registry years ago in hopes that if my birth son ever did seek me, his journey to the truth would be easier than mine had been to get to this point.

I was not prepared for a couple of things when I looked at my original birth certificate; I had a name, and my birth father was listed. Non-identifying information I obtained previously stated my birth mother did not tell my birth father about me, so I assumed his name would not be on my birth certificate. Although I gave my birth son a name, it never occurred to me that the name my birth mother gave me would be on the certificate. I was so focused on knowing her name that I gave no thought to my birth name.

After opening this document, it took me approximately 45 minutes to identify the woman I believed to be my birth mother. A search of her name returned results that were either wrong race or age to be my mother. Using the name listed as my birth father returned the results of an obituary for a Colorado government official who passed a few years prior. He was too young to be my father but reading through his surviving family was his father, whom he shared a name with and the first name of my birth mother with a new married last name. I searched by this new name and most of the hits connected to the obituary. I switched my

method and focused on one of the sons, my brother, who had a unique first name, and took a chance he had a Facebook account. Bingo. Looking through his friend list, I saw my birth mother’s name listed. I clicked on her name that took me to her page, and looking back at me was my face, nose, lips, and even my head tilt on a photo of this woman. I showed her picture to my best friend and children, and they unanimously agreed this woman had to be my mother. I thought about sending her a message on Facebook messenger, but something about that didn’t sit well with me. Instead, I began searching public voting records and property records that provided a mailing address giving me another option for contact.

After identifying this woman, it took a month to decide to write her a letter to send through US mail. When I set out to confirm I had found my birth mother, I had no expectations other than the confirmation that she was indeed the one who birthed me. There was no thought as to what would happen after that. No idea of building a relationship, family dinners, meeting siblings. None of that. My fantasy stopped with the equivalent of a Maury Povich moment announcing, “Yes, You are the Mother!” It’s been six years since I received that confirmation, and I have embarked on a reunification journey with my birth mother.

These are the steps I took to search for my birth mother:

  • Google Search

  • Facebook

  • Property Records

  • County Voting Records

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Én kommentar

Mary Ellen Gambutti
Mary Ellen Gambutti
23. mar. 2022

I enjoyed your thoughtful piece. It made me realize that what I want from SC vital records is not only to where, to whom, and exactly when St. Frances Hospital in Greenville released me, but also confirmation of my name at birth. My adoptive mother gave me my court papers at forty. At age one, I am the named petitioner, Ruth Ann, in the court papers. My guardian ad litem spoke for me, Sister Matthia, the director of the infant home. I learned my mother's name--one of the times I paid $50.-- through a Catholic Charities record breech. The knowledge and ownership of our names is empowering to adoptees. The states' lies, secrecy, and control over us must stop. …

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