The birth certificate is the most political and politicized public document issued by a government entity in the United States today. It is the “breeder document” that generates all other government and private documents of identity and entitlement. Since the government has positioned itself as the arbiter and creator of identity, bestowing upon each of us the legitimacy of our existence, we cannot function in a “normal” way for long without it. What were once routine activities everyone could enjoy, are now mediated by a piece of government paper issued to us its discretion..
The unkept bastard–that is, the adoptee–is in the unique situation of being issued, (with some exceptions), by state law, an allegedly legal, but fictive birth certificate containing government-created false information including new names for child and parents, and depending on state practice and/or date of adoption, false birth date and place of birth for both parent and child. While these fictions are important and bode serious consequences to bastards, of most concern to bastards right now, imo, is the codification of what has for some time, been documented practice, the rejection of passport applications due to late filing with the Registrar. The late filing, of course, is due to the adoption itself, which the state hides,
- Baptismal certificate
- Hospital birth certificate
- Census record (The 1930 Census is the last publicly available census).
- Early school record
- Family Bible record
- Doctor’s record of post-natal care.
- notarized and submitted with early public records;
- completed by an affiant who has personal knowledge of birth in the US
- Must state briefly how the affiant’s knowledge was acquired
- Should be completed by an older blood relative.
- voter registration card
- Army discharge papers
- Social Security card
- the full name, place of birth, date of birth, and citizenship status of your parents, step parents, siblings, and step siblings.
- your mother’s residence one year before your birth; her residence at the time of your birth; and her residence a year after your birth.
- your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth; her dates of employment, name and address of employer. (Apparently, no one cares what your old man was up to.)
- mother’s re-natal or post-natal medial care; name of doctor and dates of appointments.
- the circumstances of your birth (whatever that means), including the names, addresses and phone numbers, if available of those present or in attendance at your birth.
- religious or institutional records regarding your birth or events surrounding it (ex: baptism or circumcision)
- a list of all of your places of residence, and dates of residence from birth to present
- a list of all employers, address, dates employed, name of supervisor, and phone number
- all schools attended, addresses and dates of school attendance
Failure to reply “correctly” with any of these absurd questions, even with an “I don’t know” can mean a rejected application (what’s a little more rejection for adoptees?). What the dates of your mother’s doctor’s appointments or proof of your circumcision (hehheh) or who you mowed grass for 30 years ago has to do with your passport passport isn’t addresses. What the state wants you to do is data mine yourself for its files.
Of course, the State Department is performing more Security Theatre of the Absurd. Proposed Form DS 5513 (not to mention already-in-place adoptee-impossible identify regs), is the paper version of the naked body scanner and genital squeeze. One strips you of your clothing and dignity, the other of your right to travel internationally. .Both are meant to create the compliant citizen who is only too happy to sacrifice rights for the vague promise of security from something.. Today it’s your passport…tomorrow. it’s your…
Birth certificates as we know them today, are a product of the Progressive Era eugenics movement in the United States. Since their federal mandate a little over a hundred years ago, birth certificates, in the hands of the state have been used to eugenically erase/create/re-create racial, national, social, and family identity. They have been a tool to segregate races, control who marries whom, determine mental inadequacy, and hide children and parents from each other. See, Edwin Black’s award wining epic account of eugenics: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s campaign to create a master race. While Black doesn’t address adoption in his book, he includes several pages on Virgina’s first Registrar of Vital Records, Walter Ashby Plecker and his manipulation of birth certificate data to erase and re-classify the racial identity of thousands of Virginians.against their will and sometimes without their knowledge. Plecker was probably involved in all sorts of adoption shenanigans that we don’t know about; but we do know that he once attempted to remove a set of twins from a Presbyterian orphanage because they were illegitimate and, therefore, the “chances are 10-1 they are of negro blood.” (A 2-part article from the Virginian-Pilot here and here, is a good place to start with Plecker.) The important connection between eugenics, adoption. and sealed records has been all but neglected. I wish I had time to delve into it.
About 15 years ago, a member of the Washington State ACLU Privacy Project told Bastard Nation that no one over the age of 18 needed a birth certificate. If a bill were introduced to seal the birth certificates of everybody, it would probably. support the measure.The email was sent several years before the events of 9/11 authorized the US government to wage its war on the American people and was clearly a snarky response to BN’s criticism of its opposition to OBC access. The message was clear, though: the state can do what it wants with your identity and your documents.
I regret I haven’t kept better records on the nightmare stories I’ve heard, particularity from adoptees, regarding their records and corpo mediation and control of them. A campus Young Republican couldn’t get his driver’s license due to “irregularities in his ABC. An EMT, with neither an OBC or an ABC, denied certification because his adoption involved three states; each state, “destroying” his paperwork because they thought the other state had it. An Army lifer and later civilian contractor, with security clearances from both jobs, denied Social Security because his birth certificate didn’t trail back like it should. The continuing number of adoptees denied passports. Years ago, Bastard Nation-co-founder Shea Grimm, who had traveled internationally under an aparent passport as a child, was denied a big people’s passport when she became an adult (though she finally did get it). Lately, stories of adoptees denied are growing. To make it more interesting, I heard casually, and don’t have verification, that some states, get around this problem, by backdating the ABCs to make it coincide with new passport regulations. That is, ANOTHER fake document is created on top of the old fake document., The lies never end.
Last I heard, the original Real ID law–the national ID card law– was in big trouble because states just couldn’t or wouldn’t implement it. In its stead other less expensive laws or less draconian parts of Real ID were being implemented or cajoled.. Whatever is going on isn’t good for the American people and especially Class Bastard.
A couple years ago Bastard Nation began to implement what I call “Real ID language” into our legislative testimony, pointing out possible consequences of continued sealed records on adoptees: that go beyond the traditional rights infringement.
Tacking this year’s birther idiocy for instance, we included this in our submitted testimony against Indiana SB 114:
Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances due discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems. Indiana is one of 11 states currently considering a law to require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present proof of citizenship through birth certificates. Indiana’s proposal, SB 114, sponsored by Sen. Mike Delph and currently in the Elections Committee, requires that “a certified copy of each nominee’s birth certificate, including any other documentation necessary to establish that the nominees qualifications” to appear on the ballot.
Next year we’ll beef it up.
No one lobbying for the restoration of adoptee rights to OBC access can afford to dismiss draconian federal mandates and penalties due to “irregular” birth certificates.. While we correctly argue the restoration of the right to access our original birth certificates as a stand-alone right–and should continue to do so– we must also argue that the lack of the obc creates all kinds of scenarios for government abuse and the loss of more of our rights and privileges. Lose one right and lose them all.
The birth certificate is the breeder document of all other documents of identification.Without a “correct” birth certificate, all other rights and privileges are in limbo. Bad BC? Sorry, no driver’s license, no Social Security, no bank account. We’re down to the wire on this. It’s no longer a matter of one right–but every right. For us the OBC is the breeder document