An Ohio Story: Black Boxes by Megan Collins, guest blogger

When I opened my original birth certificate, seeing the name “Holly” was validating. I had spent years of my life wondering if that really was my birth name and now had tangible proof. When I saw “Danielle” as my middle name, I was surprised, but the sister I spoke of had a twin brother named Daniel, so I thought it could be a reference to this or maybe it was chosen randomly.

I then saw a black box where my last name should be. I expected some redaction in theory, but I wasn’t emotionally prepared to see black boxes all over my birth certificate including over my last name. It shocked me. Page after page of black boxes and missing medical information and a box checked to inform me she wanted no contact at this time. It also stated that the preference form could not be enforced…

It’s absurd that I received an original birth certificate with my last name replaced with a black box, my birth mother’s name as a row of black boxes and the birth father information as blank spaces. This is not the original birth certificate. It is a legal document that was changed to reflect the legislation currently, just as my other birth documents are.

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