Finally Sending Off For My Original Birth Certificate After 47 Years!

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’s torture.

It’s inhumane.

It isn’t kind.

It’s vile.

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.

From the #simplepieceofpaper initiative in 2012

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.

*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

My Sentiments on Iowa Bill HF855

My Sentiments on Iowa Bill HF855

IA HF855 – A bill for an act relating to access to a copy of an original birth certificate by an adoptee or an entitled person, providing for fees and including effective date provisions. (formerly HF 723, HSB 226)

For more information on this bill, visit here.

I want to share that I am honored and proud to know Michelle Spear, one of the leading forces at Iowa Adoptee & Family Coalition behind this bill being passed. For over seven plus years, Michelle and many others have worked tirelessly to get Iowa laws changed for adopted adults to obtain their OBC’S. I have been cheering them on from states away during this time because I am an Iowa Adoptee, but I have lived in Kentucky since I was 17 years old. I have built a relationship from afar with Michelle and have admired her dedication and hard work in all these years to DO SOMETHING!  Her hard work, and dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. I am eternally grateful!

I remember being told of my adoption back to 5 years old and asking when I could find my biological mother. Year after year of my childhood, I received the same response. “Honey, the records in Iowa are sealed, but when we get enough money for an attorney, we will get the sealed records opened. But right now, we don’t have enough money.”

Sadly, my adoptive mom knew who my birth mother was my whole life, so this was just a lie. I was spoon-fed this lie to simmer my desire and curiosity to know my biological family. However, it never calmed down my desire to want these CLOSED records OPENED and find my people. I can remember wanting my Original Birth Certificate from the beginning of my life.

As I learned of this new Iowa Bill HF855 passing, a wave of excitement and long-awaited happiness has come over me the last few days because of Bill HF855’s passing; I will be one of those adoptees. Finally, a dream come true, and one that I always thought was so far out of reach I would go to my grave never getting to see my OBC.

While I celebrate this massive milestone in adoptee rights, SOME adopted adults in the state of Iowa will not be able to receive their OBC.

Here’s why.

Bill HF855 is subject to redaction at the birth parent’s request. Instead of point fingers at the Iowa Adoptee & Family Coalition that this bill is not a clean bill, I point fingers at the entire adoption system that has set adoptees up with fighting this fight, to begin with. Let’s shine a light on the ROOT of the problem, and not those who are spending year after year fighting tirelessly to shift the laws in Iowa.

While I was overcome with multilayered emotions that I would be getting my OBC in the near future, I was equally sitting in the sadness for many of my fellow adoptees. It seems we’re still infantilized, being treated like perpetual infants who have never grown up.

This saddens me to the core of my being.

The perplexing emotions that have swept through me the last 24-48 hours are complicated at best. One minute I am crying happy tears, and the next, I am crying sad tears. Such significant steps that SOMETHING is moving in the state of Iowa regarding adoptees to have their OBC’s, but we still have so much work to do. Thank you to all who have been there for me during this time!

Part of me is so happy I will finally receive my OBC, and so many other adoptees will as well. I honestly never thought I would be alive to see my OBC and that I would be one of the adoptees who go to their grave, never laying eyes on it. Yet, I always knew Michelle was doing her best to TRY to get something moving in Iowa in the back of my mind.  

#simplepieceofpaper movement

It might be viewed as insignificant to many who have never lived without their birth certificates. Still, for many adopted people, we have been denied the right to obtain this simple piece of paper that most non-adopted people might take for granted. When someone is adopted, their OBC is kept secret, filed away in a cabinet, and the adopted person is generally never supposed to lay eyes on it as long as they are alive. They are never supposed to know who they are or where they come from. This knowledge is kept locked away for eternity.

What’s the big deal about having your Original Birth Certificate?

I want to know what information is on my OBC. Did my birth mother name me? Is my birth father listed? Does it have the correct birthday? Does it tell how much I weighed? It’s a tie to my truth, and no law should stand in the way of me having it.

I used to take care of a 86 year-old dementia patient named Pauline. I would go get her to bed at night, and even when she forgot her kids, and grandkids names, she would lay awake and stare at the ceiling and say, “I was adopted out of a home in Louisville, I never found out who my people were, but I always wondered who they were and where I came from. Were they looking for me?”

Even when she forgot many other things in life, she always remembered to her dying days she was adopted, and it haunted her not knowing who she was and where she came from.

How many Pauline’s have died before every learning their truth?

How many will continue to die before learning their truth?

I can share from the experience of building relationships with adoptees for over a decade that many feel like we aren’t alive because we feel like we were never born. Much of this goes back to being denied the right to know who we are and where we come from and to know our birth stories. Our OBC is a direct tie to our history and birth story, and every adopted person on the planet deserves to know their truth.

I also know that adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide and they are over-represented in jails, prisons, mental health, and treatment facilities. These staggering statistics are alarming at best, and we have to understand that the closed adoption social experiment has failed and failed adopted individuals miserably.

Why are we still giving birth mothers anonymity and allowing adoptees to pay the price of shame and secrecy for life? It’s a fundamental human right to know who you are and where you come from. We all have a right to know who our siblings and biological families are. Adoptees are fighting for a document that most people have, and this document shares their truth. Hiding this truth never has been and never will be in the best interest of any child.

Truth and transparency are the only way to go, and anything rooted and grounded in secrecy and lies is only harming adoptees. We can’t heal from secrecy, lies, and half-truths because we don’t know what we’re healing from.

I’m a firm believer that every adopted individual should have UNRESTRICTED ACCESS to their original birth certificate under the law. While Iowa Bill HF855 is a shift I am eternally grateful for, we will continue to have work to do in Iowa and any other state that isn’t allowing unrestricted access to adopted adult’s original birth certificates.

I urge anyone who might read this article to share their voice and speak loud about the unjust treatment adopted individuals experience worldwide, just because we’re adopted. It’s never too late to get involved with supporting adopted adults and push for unconditional access to our OBC’S.

While I’m celebrating for Iowa, and I am celebrating for myself, I am celebrating that step by step, year after year, changes are happening for adopted adults. It’s just deplorable, so many people support adoption, but they don’t realize they are also supporting secrecy, lies, and half-truths.

ADOPTEES ARE DYING, NEVER KNOWING THEIR TRUTH!

We can’t afford to turn a blind eye any longer.

On the flip side, I’m honored to be a part of such a significant milestone for my home state of Iowa and show up to celebrate with them. Wednesday, May 19, 2021, I will be traveling to Iowa for the Governor’s formal signing of bill HF955 into law, allowing Adoptees to Access their Original Birth Certificates. I will spend less than 24 hours in Iowa, but I wouldn’t miss this event for the world! On January 1, 2022, I will be able to apply for my original birth certificate.

Wednesday, I will be wearing YELLOW as a sign of remembrance for Adoptee Remembrance Day, as well as all tribute to all the Iowa Adoptees who died before they ever found their truth. I would like to invite anyone attending this historic event to join in with me to wear yellow as well. I know my emotions will be running high, as many emotions will be that day. I have close friends attending, I will be in great hands.

I want to say a special THANK YOU to my close friends and family who have supported me through these past few days and my journey in general. Keila, Damia & Damond, Thanks for your continued love and support! Thank you Jennifer for being my side kick through this whole thing. Thank you Taylor & Clarita for covering work so I could go! You all have no idea how much your support means to me, and even just listening to me and saving space for my sadness and tears is healing in a million ways. I appreciate you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For all those who have had a part in this bill moving forward, Michelle, Susie, and the rest of the tribe… I salute you all, I thank you, and I love you. I will always hold a huge space in my heart for your efforts, your sacrifice, and hard work!

Love, Love!

Pamela A. Karanova

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

Adoptee Rights Rally Letter Writing Campaign

Good Evening Everyone,

We’re starting a letter writing campaign and we wanted to make sure you were invited to participate.

The goal is to have as many adoptees impacted by adoption write a letter to President Obama and we want him to receive the letters by February 14th. This gives us all this week to pull something together and get busy. Wouldn’t it be awesome if he would get flooded with letters from those impacted by adoption in time for Valentine’s Day?

Yes, you guessed it that’s 2 weeks away!

IMG_20160131_203305

All it will cost you is a few minutes and a stamp and envelope. Let’s face it, WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER. Multiple letters will make more of an impact than very few.

 WE NEED YOUR HELP!

We would like you to express that although we were adopted, some of our adoptions were successful and some were not but the longing to answer the questions, “WHO AM I” & “WHERE DID I COME FROM” have haunted us all our lives. We really would like you to pour your heart out at an attempt to pull some heart strings. Share why this is so important to you and your kids, and their kids. Don’t forget to share the most important part- IT’S OUR CONSTITUTIONAL AND CIVIL RIGHT TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE SAME DOCUMENTS AS THE NON-ADOPTED WHICH IS A “SIMPLE PIECE OF PAPER” – KNOWN AS OUR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

If you are one of the adoptees that already has your answers, please take part in this campaign for all your fellow adoptees that haven’t been so fortunate.

You could share in your letter to President Obama that this could be one of his biggest legacies to leave office having impacted hundreds of thousands of adoptees and families that are impacted by this archaic system. What better way to leave office than reuniting so many long lost family members?

If you have trouble writing your own letter you can use Sandy’s A Stroke of Your Pen letter to President Obama as a template. Feel free to get ideas from this letter. You will find it in the “File” section of the Adoption ALARM Facebook Group. Feel free to change things around and add and delete things, remove her name and add yours.  Also, please print off the ADOPTEES RESTORATION ACT and include it in your letter. You can also find this under the file section of the Adoption ALARM page.

Please share this letter writing campaign as many places as you can. Copy and paste it and share it on your social media, emails, with your fellow adoptees, etc. Please consider taking a picture of your letter and emailing it to pamelakaranova@gmail.com  ATTN: Letter to Obama before you send it off. This isn’t critical but it would be fun to share on our social media pages as we get closer to the rally and to use to encourage others to participate in this campaign.

Keep in mind the letter can’t be more than 500 words.

Writing letters to The White House please consider typing it on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. If you hand-write your letter, please consider using pen and writing as neatly as possible. Please include your return address on your letter as well as your envelope. If you have an email address, please consider including that as well. And finally, be sure to include the full address of the White House to make sure your message gets to us as quickly and directly as possible:

The White House

President Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 Together we can do this!

When President Obama receives an outpouring of LOVE on February 14th is going to be an amazing way to show how important it is that ALL ADOPTEES HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES.

Blessings to all,

2016-01-10 18.04.25

Pamela Karanova

Media & PR Team

Adoptee Rights Rally 2016

pamelakaranova@gmail.com