Thursday, July 22, 2010

birth certificates: good news, bad news

We are still in a holding pattern, waiting to hear that our little guy's birth certificate has been obtained and our case resubmitted to court. Due to some office closures in Ethiopia it has taken a bit longer than expected to get the certificates, but we are told they should be ready this week and that cases may be resubmitted next week. Hooray! It looks like our most likely time-frame for a court date is October or November.

On the one hand, the new birth certificate requirement probably added at least 12 weeks to our process because it pushed our court date until after the rainy season closure. But on the other hand, this requirement seems to me like an absolutely necessary and valuable thing, so for that reason I am glad it was made. Personally, I have major issues with the fact that the US issues birth certificates with adoptive parents' names, without acknowledging in any way the fact that these parents did not, in fact, play a role in the child's birth. I would want my birth certificate to have my birth parents' names on it, no matter what happened in my life after I was born. Or, if I had made the heart-wrenching decision to place my child for adoption, I would still want my name to be on the birth certificate because I still gave birth to that child. Why not let a birth certificate remain the record of a child's actual birth and then issue an adoption certificate with the same legal weight as a birth certificate? I'm sure that could create issues I haven't thought of yet, but at least it would give adoptees and birth parents the respect of having truthful documentation of their lives.

[Disclaimer: I feel I should admit that I am not the most informed person on the whole issue of how an adoption is legally documented, so if someone out there reading this sees something in the above paragraph which is misinformed or not factual... help a sister out and educate me. I'm just basing my opinions on what I do know, which is admittedly not all that much. End disclaimer.]

Anyway, as sad as I am to have to wait 12 or more extra weeks to hold my little man, I am so very glad that his country of origin is taking steps to make their adoption process more ethical and respectful of the children and birth parents involved. I am hoping that we will receive a copy of our son's original (pre-adoption) birth certificate. It makes me uncomfortable to think that the only legal document we'll have related to his birth will have our names on it. Even though we will now be his parents forever, the truth is that we weren't there when he was born and a piece of paper doesn't change that.


  1. First of all, congratulations on being one step closer to bringing your little boy home - that is wonderful!! It must be nice to at least have an idea of when, right?

    Second, as an adoptive parent with a changed certificate: we still have a copy of the original, which of course will be passed over to Eddie at some point in his life. But it is actually kind of wonderful to have our names on it as well. I know I didn't birth him, but while not part of the physical process, we felt very intertwined in the whole event. Legally, it was necessary I think to prove that we are officially his parents, and because we changed his name. Sometimes birthmothers don't even want to name their children, sometimes they want no identifying information presented to the child, etc. I am sure there is more to it, but that's our understanding... and my two cents :)

  2. The US does not issue birth certificates for intl adopted kids, rather, they issue "records of foreign birth." It is a confirmation of the information you give then about your child when you adopt, and a confirmation of your child's US citizenship. They list the city, country, and birth date of the child. On T's, we are listed as his mother and father, but, we are T's mother and father, and we were legally when that certificate was issued. It doesn't say that we gave birth to him, there is no physician signature or hospital listed. It looks different than a birth certificate, although it is printed on the same official paper. T's Ugandan birth certificate does not list us (obviously :-) ), and we didn't have to turn it in it to get our record from the US.
    I think every intl adopted kid should have two birth certificates/records. One from their country of birth that lists their birth parent information (or, in most cases of the cases I know of "unknown" or an alias) and one that documents the change in their family.
    On a side note, I didn't know that Ethiopia didn't require birth certificates (granted I know nothing about adopting from Ethiopia). How do they verify orphan status without that kind of vital paperwork?
    I'm sorry for the delays...but so glad you are a little closer to bringing him home!

  3. I can tell by reading this that you have been continuing your transracial adoption bootcamp. I am amazed at how quickly my mind has shifted in such a short amount of time. I am so thankful for the information available to adoptive parents and I really wish everyone would take the time to educate themselves-- even when it's uncomfortable.

  4. What a great attitude to have. I'm praying you have peace through the waiting.

  5. @Carina: thanks for offering your perspective, I can definitely see where you're coming from. And in your situation, you guys actually *were* much more involved in the birth & beginning of life for Eddie, as compared to most international adoption situations.

    @Amy: Thank you - that is helpful info. I may be mistaken, but my understanding is that Ethiopia actually used to (maybe still does?) issue a birth certificate for their adopted children prior to the embassy date, listing adoptive parents' names on it. Orphan status is proved through other documentation issued from local government offices where the child was born and/or relinquished/abandoned [those are the legal words used]. I'm sure I'll learn much more valuable info about how it works in Ethiopia when we go over there and have this paperwork in front of us! Either way, I'm just glad the country is making positive changes in their policies. I totally agree w/ you about int'l adopted children having 2 records - that just makes sense to me.

    @Melissa: guilty. :)

    @Sabrina: thank you!