Today is January 1, 2022. I never thought the day would get here where I could finally say that I could apply to receive my original birth certificate from the Iowa Department of Public Health. But unfortunately, most non-adopted people don’t know that most adopted individuals from the USA (and other countries) don’t have their Original Birth Certificates, so I am here to explain things a bit.
While I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and all the hard work in getting this law changed, for some reason, I thought I would be able to do this online, so when I went online to do it this morning, I was a bit disappointed that I had to download forms, fill them out, get them notarized by a notary and mail them off with a $15.00 money order. Uggh. I hate to complain, but after waiting 47 years, I hoped it would be an online and much quicker process but it is the way it is and I can’t change it. The documents need notarized so I get it.
Nonetheless, I am still satisfied that I will have this completed by Monday, 1/3/22, and my request will be in a sealed envelope on its way to IDPH!
Some people who aren’t adopted might not understand what something like this means for an adoptee like myself. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but this is one of the most important events of my life. I know most of my fellow adoptees get it, but for others, I figured I might share a little about why this is such a milestone event and what it means to me to get my original birth certificate. I’ve been fighting the good fight for 47 years!
Back to 5 years old, I have been dreaming about the woman who gave me life. Who was she, what did she look like, did I know her, where could I find her? Was she looking for me? Questions plagued my mind every day of my life. So I started searching for her everywhere I went, all the way back to the beginning of knowing she existed.
When someone is adopted, their original birth certificate is sealed away by the state, and a new “Certificate of Live Birth” is issued to the adoptive parents with the biological parent’s information redacted. Then, it’s replaced with the adoptive parent’s information. This is to protect the identity of the birth parents and to eliminate the adoptee from ever finding out who they are. Unfortunately, this is one of the areas where the deception in adoption begins, and it only gets deeper and deeper as the years pass. This is one of the many reasons I can’t support the adoption industry. I can’t support secrecy, lies, and half-truths.
Can you imagine not knowing who your mother and father are?
I know you can’t because it’s unimaginable.
It isn’t kind.
It’s awful and cruel.
I was a persistent adoptee. I didn’t care who I hurt trying to find my truth because none of them cared how much relinquishment trauma, adoption trauma and secrets hurt me. I tell people on a scale of 1 to 10, and 1 being an adoptee with minor issues and 10 being an adoptee with many problems, I was at about 10,000 and off the charts with my adoptee issues. There has never been anything positive about adoption in my world. I can’t even think of ANYTHING positive that came out of it for me. Nothing. I have tried to think of things, but it has always bothered me to my core.
I didn’t bond with my adoptive mom, and being forced to bond with her was a traumatic experience for me. I was unfortunately stuck with her for legal reasons. So, as a result, I acted out in many ways, and I hated my life, I hated the world, and I have wanted to die more than I have wanted to stay alive. Why? Because the pain from my story has been so great that it almost killed me many times over.
The simple piece of paper has held the keys to my healing, and because I haven’t had it for 47 years, my healing has stalled because of it. I am one of the fortunate adoptees who pushed and pushed my way around because I was not taking “NO” for an answer when it came to finding my biological family. They told me no, I pushed harder. I was stalled, lied to, gaslit, and experienced so much emotional abuse because I wanted to know who my fucking parents were. It was and is abusive, and so many adoptees experience this abuse just because we want our information and sometimes we experience just because we are alive!
I finally found both my biological parents, only to be rejected by both of them ten years apart. This broke my heart, and I was once convinced that was what would kill me. I was going to die of a broken heart.
The birth certificate for me is a seal of the deal. It’s the last missing puzzle piece to my story, and although I was one of the fortunate ones to find my biological people, I still want the first piece that I will ever have to my story. I don’t have a birth story. I don’t have happy memories or things from the first days of my life. But I have my original birth certificate. It’s a piece of me, and it’s a part of my story. The government has said I can’t have it for 47 years.
Some of the things that I am asking myself about my OBC are, I wonder if my birth mother named me? I wonder if it will have my birth father’s name on it? I wonder if it will have my time of birth and confirm my birth date? I wonder if I will get any other information, like health history or additional value notes? I wonder if I will even get it? What if I’m the exception and they don’t have it or can’t find it? What if they send it to me and it’s blank?
These are my obsessive thoughts, which I suspect many adoptees think about relating to the unknown. When someone doesn’t have the truth, we’re left to wonder, dream, fantasize, and even obsess about thoughts of who our biological family is and where they are. As if that isn’t punishment enough, many of us suffer from wondering if we are dating one of our very own siblings or cousins!
Adoption is INHUMANE.
I have had three significant milestones in my life, and that’s the birth of the three amazing humans I brought into the world. The next is the ability to gain access to my original birth certificate! The idea that the government can keep this from me, and it’s something that belongs to me, is revolting.
It’s damaging, and it hurts.
I had the honor of being invited to Des Moines, Iowa, in May 2021 to be present for Governor Kim Reynold’s bill signing that enacts a law for many adult adoptees to gain access to their original birth certificates. I was over the moon and so thrilled that I could attend. Here’s an article I wrote about it. My Sentiments on Iowa Bill HF855. When I showed up in Iowa, I decided to wear yellow as a sign of remembrance for all the adoptees who passed away before ever receiving their truth.
From the bottom of my heart, I can honestly say that gaining access to my original birth certificate is something I would never be alive to see. I have fantasized about this my entire life. I can’t help but ponder all the people who passed away before receiving their original birth certificates. I also think of all the people who will just be finding their biological family but find out their biological parents have passed away. The reality is, no adopted person should be withheld from knowing who their biological parent is, ever. And to be completely frank, no one adopted or not should have to live without knowing who their biological parent/s are. It really can and does do an unmeasurable amount of damage, and it can and does last a lifetime. It also reverberates through future generations.
While I’m learning after I mail this request off, I will then have to wait 6-8 weeks before I receive my OBC in the mail. Let me share something with you about the mail. When I found my birth mother in 1995, she promised to write me and send me pictures. I was so excited to see what she looked like and her handwriting. I was dying to know her thoughts or if she had any sentiments to share. You know, something sweet for the daughter she gave away 21 years earlier. I checked the mail every day; I met the mailman at the box most days because I watched for him. Days passed, followed by weeks and months. She lied; she didn’t keep the agreement. I was crushed, and still to this day, every day I walk to the mailbox, I think of her, and all those days I waited, and I never got anything.
I think waiting on my OBC might be triggering because of this, and because as an adopted person, I have spent my whole life WAITING on her to come back or to change her mind about me. So I am not sure how I will handle the next 6-8 weeks, but I will do it the only way I know-how. Relish in plenty of self-care, and stay busy. Idol time isn’t my friend.
I’ve decided I will likely get together with my kids, and they can be with me as I open it. I might invite two close friends. I am sure I will be an emotional basket case, but I am ready to get this chapter behind me. No matter what I get back in the mail or how this turns out, this will likely be the last chapter of my search, the final clue I collect, and the last piece to my puzzle. Of course, I can never say never, but these are my thoughts now.
Interestingly, my OBC is something I’m gaining access to at 47 years old, and it’s a significant tangible piece to my truth and the beginning of my life. However, if I’m lucky, my life is likely half over, and I’m just now getting this simple piece of paper. Just wow.
I hope in 2022, more people who aren’t adopted get on board for advocating for equal access for every single adult adopted person to be able to gain access to what’s rightfully theirs, and that’s their original birth certificate. Every state needs to change these laws, and every adopted person deserves to know who they are and where they came from.
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*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova
10 thoughts on “Finally Sending Off For My Original Birth Certificate After 47 Years!”
Completely over joyed for you! Hopefully the next 6-8 weeks will go by quickly and not drag on slowly. Agree. We all deserve to know who our birth parents are along with OBC. Thank you for expressing and sharing what I’m feeling from my mind and heart too!!💕
Happy New Year!😊
Hi Pamela, Thank you so much! It’s a long time coming for sure! And you are more than welcome! Thank you for your support and validation! It means a lot! 😀 Stay tuned! ❤ 😀
Getting my original birth certificate two years ago was life changing. I mean, nothing changed in my life but me. However, I am not the person I was before I saw it. It is impossible to explain to anyone who isn’t adopted. The idea of simply knowing who you are, and not who you have been required to be.
I recently read a well-intentioned post a nice friend made on Facebook. She was celebrating the day she adopted her teenage son many years ago when he was a baby. And in her post- where she reminisced about how happy her son makes her by spending the entire time talking about all the paperwork and last minute things they did and “went through” to get him- she used that language about the birth mother giving up her son everyone says that always makes me feel a little like I was a used car. “She loved him so much she chose to give him up and give him a better life.” The pictures of this boy literally look like a kid just trying his best to please whoever is taking the picture of him. He looks happy, which is good, and he is certainly well-loved but is he loved well? I wish I was sure. I wish I could believe that adoption is better now than it was 50 years ago when it happened to me. A “wonderful couple” was able to adopt a child! The system worked! The friend also mentioned a “hiccup” where a grandmother thought she might try and raise her grandson, but thank god that was straightened out. Because how horrible it would be for that boy to know his grandmother? Because it’s what is best for the child, of course.
I don’t hate the entire concept of adoption, but why is it still this institution where the adoptees have the least say in what happens to them, or how they are allowed to feel about it? I simply don’t think closed adoptions should exist. I truly think that making many of these well-intentioned adopted parents face that they are, in fact, raising someone else’s child and not a sign or gift from god would be a healthier start to the child’s life.
It’s supposed to be about giving a child a “better life” right? But you take away a child’s complete identity and basically put a piece of contact paper over it with the new family info and everyone goes “what a blessing!” Don’t dare to try and pull up that contact paper to see what’s underneath because it doesn’t matter anymore. To whom? And why, exactly, is it wrong to want to know? It’s messy and inconvenient and doesn’t play into the narrative so it’s best to leave it alone. Best for whom?
I don’t want to barge into my birthmother’s life but it’s amazing to see the people who were my grandparents on Ancestry.com, and my great-grandparents. My adopted grandparents were awesome and I miss them and love them immensely. But I have my grandfather’s ears. If you have never been allowed to know that, it’s a big deal. I don’t know yet who my father is or was, but I have seen pictures of his cousins. I have my mother’s nose and my father’s forehead because all the cousins have my forehead. A sentence on a piece of paper from the adoption agency told me I was German and French and Swedish. I’ve since learned that I am far more Scottish/English and Irish and actually Finnish more than Swedish. I may never be accepted or acknowledged by any of these people, but at least I know who they are now. And I know me a little more.
Thank you so much for sharing with me. I am so thankful you have received your OBC and to learn how impactful that was for you. It’s interesting that most people who aren’t adopted just can’t fathom why something like this would be so important to an adoptee. I also know who my birth parents are, and I still want my OBC. That seems even more ludachris to most people.
I am so sad to hear of the “gotcha day” story you are speaking of. I actually have that topic on a list I plan to write about for 2022 and I have so much to say about it. It’s so insensitive and mind blowing that anyone wants to celebrate that day. 😦
I am so glad you have some similarities with some of your people! It’s awe inspiring to learn of these similarities and life changing for sure. Every adoptee deserves all their truth, no matter how hard is is to receive.
Cheers to knowing ourselves a little more, and hopefully 2022 brings us more and more! XOXO ❤
A thought crossed my mind in response to a post I saw on Twitter. As an adoptee, it would actually be much, much easier for me to buy an assault rifle today and just walk out of the store with it, than to even see a copy of my own birth certificate.
Yep, this is totally true and accurate! I actually went to purchase a fire arm and had it out the doors in less than one hour, and only showed my license. It’s criminal.
I am so excited for you! I had to wait 49 years and it was such a surreal moment to actually see my OBC. You express yourself beautifully and it is healing for me to read about your story and to relate to many aspects of your journey. Thank you!
Hi Amy, thank you so much. It truly means more than you will ever know!!
I’m so glad you received your OBC and can relate to this multilayered journey. Helps me not feel so alone. It’s really a mixed bag. I can’t help but wonder every day, if I’ll actually really get it. I have so many fears. But hoping for the best! 💗
Pamela, I have been reading your blog but never commented on anything, just allowed your words to soak in. I am a 52 year old adoptee who is in reunion with his birth father and four half siblings. Emotions have been all over the board for the last 6 months, but I will say that the one thing I have done during this time which has given me so much peace of mind, is gaining access to my original birth certificate from the State of Texas and also receiving redacted files from the center that I was adopted through. As you stated, filling in those last missing pieces of information has been so fulfilling for me. It hasn’t stopped any of the emotional roller coaster I have been, but it has provided a firm foundation which I never had before. How powerful one piece of paper can truly be. Just wanted to share this with you and thank you so much for all you do for the adoptee community. I, for one, have benefited greatly from your words.
Thank you so much for reaching out and for all you have shared here.
I can so sympathize with the roller coaster of reunions and the emotions that come with it. Even in the best of reunion stories, they are still very difficult to navigate. So sorry for your pain!
I’m so glad you were able to get your OBC and other important documents that are a piece of your puzzle. You deserve that, as we all do. It’s wild at all we have to go through to get it, and how much it means to each of us. This is one of the reasons material possessions don’t mean much to me. The things that have carried the most meaning besides having my kids, is seeing my birth mothers face one time, Meeting her one time, getting my OBC, and that’s really about it. No amount of money can come close to equating what those things mean to most of us.
It’s truly my honor to do what I do, and it’s for me and you too! Thank you for your support and encouragement my friend! Together we are going to make it through this thing! 💝