Adopted People Have Two Birth Certificates | Marilyn Mendenhall Waugh | TEDxTopeka

most people do not realize that when a

domestic adoption occurs that a u.s.

adopt D then has to birth certificates

they have an original birth certificate

which all of us in this theatre have and

they also have a second birth

certificate an amended birth certificate

so this evening I want to explain the

differences between these two documents

and the unique challenges that are faced

by many adult adoptees today and then I

will explain a proposal that I have to

change this very confusing odd and

archaic system that exists today so what

do we use birth certificates for we use

it for identity that tells who you are

when you were born

and where you were born these birth

certificates are used to enroll your

child in school if you're getting a

Social Security card you better have

your birth certificate when you're

obtaining a driver's license or passport

if you're applying for college financial

aid they will request that if you're

applying for a marriage license if you

want to join the US military and more

and more states are requiring them to

register to vote for the first time so

what is it with these two birth

certificates how different are they the

original birth certificate is what those

of us in this theater have it explains

who gave birth to you it was the mother

on your birth certificate but it may or

may not list the father and that's

because birth fathers were not given

legal rights until the early 1970s by a

US Supreme Court ruling so sometimes the

space for father is blank sometimes it

will list a what's known as a legal

father and this could be someone who has

absolutely no biological connection to

the infant on the birth certificate the

legal father could be someone that the

was married to several years ago but now

divorced from legal father could be a

man in the military who's been overseas

for a year who obviously is not

biologically related to this child when

an adoption occurs a second birth

certificate is then issued and this is

called an amended birth certificate this

certificate reads as if the adoptive

parent or parents gave birth to this

infant and I want to repeat that those

of you in genealogy your heads probably

spinning around right now but the

amended birth certificate reads as if

the adoptive parents gave birth to this

infant now at the bottom of all the

birth certificates there's a signature

for the vital records registrar and it

has a date that that birth certificate

was issued on original birth

certificates that date is usually two or

three days after the birth of this child

with an amended birth certificate then

that can be weeks months or even years

later and so that that's causing some

issues when you try to establish your

identity so when did this get so screwy

when did adult adoptees start having

trouble proving who they are and getting

their identity I believe it all goes

back to the u.s. Patriot Act and this

was the act that was an octa enacted by

Congress right after the terrorist

attacks on the East Coast and this was

in the year 2001 and the Patriot Act

initially was started so that money

could not be funneled into terrorism and

it's an acronym some government workers

spent a lot of time coming up with this

one I'm sure so it stands for uniting

and strengthening America by providing

appropriate tools required to intercept

and obstruct Terrorism I love that so

the basic principle was to stop people

from opening back

accounts and then funneling the money to

terrorists so in order to open a bank

account the banking industry set up

parameters for establishing an identity

through the years that has kind of

morphed by state governments into you

have to prove your identity for several

reasons now and now in 2017 we

frequently have to prove that we are who

we say we are as I mentioned you have to

submit a birth certificate for a

passport application well if you're an

adoptee applying for a passport for the

very first time and sending in your

amended birth certificate you have to

sign the same statement that every US

citizen has to get a passport warning

false statements made knowingly and loli

willfully in passport applications

including affidavits or other documents

submitted to support this application

are punishable by find and/or

imprisonment under US law including the

provisions of 18 USC one-zero-zero-one

18 USC 154 - and/or 18 USC 1621 well

it's no surprise that often the

application that an adult adoptee makes

is denied by the US passport office and

it has returned because the birth

certificate looks odd it looks

fraudulent and a lot of that goes back

to the date that I mentioned on the

bottom of the birth certificate where it

says when it was issued so you're

thinking well they have to birth

certificates why can't they just submit

both of them with the passport

application well here's the kicker

original birth certificates are

available to adult adoptees without

restriction restrictions in only nine

states right now

that's Alabama Alaska Colorado Hawaii is

our most recent one added Kansas Maine

New Hampshire Oregon and Rhode Island

and even though you could obtain your

original birth certificate if you were

born in why this nine states they do not

agree on what constitutes an adult

adoptee in some states like Kansas it's

18 in some states it's 21 and in some

states you have to wait till you're 25

before you can access your original

birth certificate so each state has

their own rules and regulations for

giving this original birth certificate

and in Kansas and I like to warn adult

adoptees about it because it can be

drawn to see you get the original birth

certificate and diagonally and bright

red across the document it reads void

and that is so this document cannot be

used for fraudulent purposes some states

Missouri for example stamp for

genealogical purposes only not to be

used for establishing identity so 22

states you will never be able to get

your original birth certificate period

it is not available to you 19 states now

have partial or access with restrictions

so what are some of those restrictions

and this is where the system appears

really bizarre limits may include span

of dates not allowed in some states if

you were born prior to for example 1941

or born after 1961 yes you can have your

original birth certificate but if you

are born between 1941 and 1961 sorry

you're out of luck another restriction

that is commonly used is that you have

to prove both birth parents are deceased

well this can be difficult if you don't

know whose names are on your original

birth certificate

now another restriction they require

therapy from a certified therapist or

social worker before we will release

your original birth certificate to you

the next absurd one is is one of my

favorites notarized permission from

adoptive parents so if you're 70 years


you need notarized permission from your

90 something year old adoptive parents

now if one of those parents says no then

you don't get your original birth

certificate they both have to notarize

that another restriction is to pay a

court approved confidential intermediary

the going rate right now is between four

and five hundred dollars and they will

ask your birth parents they will find

them hopefully and ask their permission

to release the original birth


now if the birth mother says yes and the

birth father says no you are out four

hundred to five hundred dollars and you

will not get your original birth

certificate another one of my favorite

absurd things is if you are a stepparent

say you were born and brought up by one

of your biological parents who then

married another partner and that partner

adopted you well some states will let

you look at the original birth

certificate still can't have it but at

least you can look at it

so how absurd can these situations be

well as you can imagine they can get

really weird for example and these are

actual examples to two tall blue-eyed

blond parents adoptive parents went to

kindergarten roundup with their child

and this is for those of us that are

parents this is a big big deal

when you can finally take your child to

kindergarten roundup and enroll them for

public school so this couple went with

their daughter five-year-old daughter

and the daughter is beautiful she has

big brown eyes and black hair and she

has dark skin and so the parents

explained to the

school that yes this is our adopted

daughter and here is her birth

certificate and they present the amended

birth certificate and the school refuses

to enroll this child for school because

the signature at the bottom is dated two

years after the birth and so they do not

believe this is really their child

another example is a single male adopts

a child and the birth certificate

remember reads as if this parent gave

birth except there's no woman on the

birth certificate so yeah he has no hope

again the passport widowed father

remarries and remarries a much younger

woman so the birth certificate then has

changed when she adopts her husband's

child and on the amended birth

certificate it reads as if she gave

birth to this child

but she was seven years old at that time

so that looks odd a mother was enrolling

her child for soccer and this is another

instance where you have to show your

birth certificate to document the the

age group and the adoptive mother was

listed as having lived in a certain city

and state that she had never been to and

the person enrolling this child in

soccer was from that particular city and

state oh gosh what high school did you

go to what part of the city did you live

in so she had to admit that she had

never been there she had no idea what

the town was like I talked to a

genealogy group a few years ago a state

group and afterwards a man came up he

said can I tell you about my situation

and I said absolutely he grew up next

door to a rather elderly woman and this

woman adored this man and had watched

him grow up and she didn't have any

other family and so she asked if he

would be willing to help her with being

the executor for her for the estate and

she would like to leave the house to him

so they went to an attorney and the


well why don't you just adopt him so

they did the adoption occurred and the

vital statistics mailed the man his new

birth certificate which showed that the

next-door neighbor had given birth to

him and it was signed over 40 years

after his birth this poor guy has no

hope again any government services so

what can we do here's my proposal

let's eliminate these absurd amended

birth certificates I'd like to see them

abolished if you can stamp void across

an original birth certificate I think

you can stamp certificate of adoption

across the amended birth certificate we

need to quit pretending that the

adoptive current parents gave birth to

this child it's just absurd and it's

causing problems we need to archive the

original birth certificate with the

amended birth certificate which will now

call a certificate of adoption together

in the vital records department of each

state and when the parent of a minor

child needs a birth certificate she or

he will contact vital stats and both

documents will be sent and we need to

have more than nine states we need all

50 states to allow access to an original

birth certificate at age 18 and a birth

certificate is not just a simple piece

of paper a dear friend of mine and a New

Jersey adult tada D just had this

profound statement that that I love and

I want to end the talk with this if

birth certificates are not important

then why are they called vital records

thank you for listening