Keeping up with the Kardashians

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Birth Certificate Reform

Sarah Baker | October 10, 2013 | 02:17 PM

The Kardashians are always making headlines, whether we like it or not. The most recent hot topic, aside from loving or hating Baby North’s name, is Khloe’s fertility problems and news about visiting an adoption lawyer.

There are so many topics that can be addressed with this segment of “Keeping of with the Kardashians” Kim pushed Khloe into meeting with an adoption attorney, one for her own need to gain knowledge of adoption, but also because she felt Khloe needed to start weighing her options. Another hot topic that revolves Khloe’s meeting with the adoption attorney is that in the initial questions to the lawyer, she seemed most concerned with asking about how to NOT know the birth family and can she proceed with medical information but in a closed adoption. Of course you know, I am an advocate of open adoption, so that portion of the episode probably deserves its own attention for a later entry. (If anyone is interested)

So… back to the clip that I want to touch on today. I feel this one is a very interesting topic actually. In this deleted scene clip (http://www.eonline.com/shows/keeping_up_with_the_kardashians/videos/213572/khloe-kardashian-questions-birth-certificate), Khloe tells her mother about an interesting birth certificate fact she found out during the meeting with the adoption attorney. An adopted child’s birth certificate is edited to reflect the adoptive parents as the parents of the child. It is not altered to ADD the adoptive parents, it is changed. The birth parents are removed and the adoptive parents are added. The child’s birth name is also deleted (if it differs from what it is at adoption) and the new name is put in its place. While Kris, Khloe’s mom, seems shocked by this news, she quickly realizes that the reason Khloe is bringing it up is another reference to the fact that Khloe doesn’t believe she is biologically a Kardashian.

The whole scene made me wonder how many people out there do not know that an adopted child’s birth certificate is permanently altered with their birth information deleted, even in open adoptions? I suppose there are two sides of this, that one it protects the birth parents who don’t want to be found or, I don’t know, are in protective custody or something? But, seriously, why in the world, with all the changes that have happened in adoption in the last several decades, is THIS still happening?

My thoughts are that by altering a birth certificate it is striping the identity from a person. Just because they are adopted, does not mean that their original identity should be hidden from them. Ezra’s revised birth certificate actually just came in the mail about a week ago. I thought that when I got that new birth certificate, showing his last name the same as ours and reflecting us as his parents, I would be really happy. Instead, I was oddly saddened. With my open adoption, we are lucky enough to have his birth parents in our lives. We even have a copy from our adoption lawyer of his original birth certificate for his records, since now the original is sealed. But, receiving that document raised a lot of questions and concerns by me, for my son. I knew there were groups and activist out there that spoke out on adoption reform and “birth certificate identity theft”, but it wasn’t until I saw my son’s “new” birth certificate that I felt I really understood the stance these adoptees take.

How hard would it be to reform this practice?

1. Keep the original given name of the child on the certificate and amend it to state new legal name.

2. Keep the birth parents name(s) on the certificate with adoptive legal parent’s names added to reflect the adoption.

3. In cases where the birth parents personally request to remain anonymous or there is a danger to gaining that access, then maybe “seal” that information for the first 18 years, but don’t make it difficult to obtain after the child is no longer a minor.

4. If the child, as an adult, would like the birth information removed, then they can request to do so.

Nothing should ever be used to keep a child in the dark about their adoption though. Going through life feeling out of place and then finding out you are adopted only to hit dead ends in your search is cruel. Which is one of the reasons open adoption and talking about Ezra’s adoption to him with age appropriate information is important to us. Everyone says that adoption is about giving the child a better chance in life. So if we are truly doing this for the children… then don’t strip them of their identity. Let them be proud of who they are. There are many ways to reform adoption and birth certificate reform is just one of the many injustices adoptees deal with.

So while the present reform groups focus a lot on making sure original birth certificates are unsealed and made available to them as well as not being sealed in the future for new adoptions, I think we can go one step further and change the way we handle what is ON a birth certificate to begin with.

I would love your experience or feedback on this. Please comment below.

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Leaving the Hospital

Drive Thru Baby

Leaving the Hospital

Sarah Baker | August 06, 2013 | 03:05 PM

Adoption is such a surreal experience. You go into it not pregnant and yet hoping to come home with a child one day. We went through the steps. We decorated the nursery. We bought clothes and toys. We had family members and friends asking questions about when the baby would come. But, it sort of feels make believe.

There is no physical evidence that we had a baby on the way. No food cravings. No morning sickness. No feeling the baby move. No doctor checkups… at least not for me. When we were matched with Ezra’s birth mom it was so exciting, but also so scary. Joe and I were fearful that we would have another match fall through. But, we also were concerned for this woman who was making a huge sacrifice for her baby. How do you thank a person for giving you something so incredible and trusting you with their most precious creation? How do you protect them from the sadness that will surely come? How do you address something bringing you so much joy but is so tragic for them? The answer is love.

At the hospital when a baby is born, you are usually bombarded with family and friends coming to visit. Adoption is a sensitive matter and we felt that having our family visit us at the hospital would be disrespectful to Ezra’s birth parents. This was their special time to spend with the baby. This was also a time for us to not only bond with the baby, but to strengthen our bond with them. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we visited, we bonded. The hospital staff was very generous in giving Joe and I a room of our own, right across the hall from Ezra’s birth mom. We could rest and talk and spend time together and apart. It was a beautiful experience. (minus the stomach bug I had while there)

The final day at the hospital was a very emotional day. Ezra’s birth parents had to sign papers stating we were allowed to take him home and have guardianship of him even though their termination of rights wouldn’t be signed and completed for another day and a half. (72 hours in Ohio) There were social workers coming in to talk with us and them. His birth father filled out his birth certificate paperwork and gave him the first and middle name we had chosen and his biological last name. What a gift to give him a name that he can take with him as his identity. While the adoption has since finalized and he now has our last name, he will forever have that first surname to carry with him as a part of who he is. We ate lunch together and quietly oo’d and ahh’d over the adorable little miracle.

As we packed our things, I sobbed. We were taking this little baby home with us… and they were not. How can you feel so much joy and sorrow at the same time? We walked with them to their car and said our goodbyes. We hugged and tried to hold back more tears. We waved as they pulled away and suddenly we were hit with the realization that we were now with a little infant. As we walked to the other side of the hospital, holding hands and carrying our newborn son in his infant seat, we smiled and were rather quiet as we tried to digest that “this really just happened”. The thought of 4 months prior, our hearts were crushed by the loss of our first matched baby. Then 2 months later we learned that we were matched again. To that day… where there we stood with a baby we had prayed for. We arrived at the hospital for a fluid check of a woman that was not me, carrying a baby she intended to give us, that part of me was unsure would be mine. Only 2 days later we were headed home with this perfect little human. That’s the enormity of that event is so hard to comprehend. All I knew was that was the scariest drive home EVER. I was now responsible for another little tiny life. WOW.

Finalization

Finalization

Sarah Baker | July 23, 2013 | 07:56 PM

Today, we had a huge day! We finalized our adoption of Ezra. I had no idea what to expect. We got a letter from our agency with the court date (which was changed because our first judge retired) and it included a list of rules for court. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue what to expect.

In my mind, I expected a court room that looked like Judge Judy’s. I expected a very formal hearing with gavels and someone in the corner typing on a typewriter. I walked into a small room with three tables and a few chairs. Our lawyer and adoption agency director were waiting for us in the room. The lawyer left to let the judge know we had arrived and a few minutes later he entered. We stood and the judgee told us not to worry about standing. We shook his hand and introduced our family. The judge oodled at Ezra for a minute and talked to Isaac about starting football. He went to his table and asked our lawyer if all the paper work was in order. He then asked us if this adoption was what we wanted, of course we eagerly said yes with goofy smiles plastered across our faces. Even Isaac looked excited! He then just said “congratulations” and stood up and talked to the lawyer and then posed for pictures with us. Our lawyer left the room with him and a few minutes later came back with the Adoption Decree showing Ezra was now legally our baby.

We took more pictures in the small court room and chatted for a few minutes. It all went so quickly and still feels so surreal. There were no big speeches, no formal questions, no reviewing of our case paperwork, no doctor to make sure we were taking care of the baby, no probing us or the agency director that everything was done, no truth serum or lie detectors, no gavel. It was like we just met a new guy and he congratulated us on our beautiful, chubby baby.

But, we know what the day means. The day means that he IS our son. The day means that his last name is now ours. The day means that we will need to spend every day of his life protecting him, teaching him, loving him, nurturing him, etc. The day means that the blessing we received may be a bitter one for his birth parents. These people made a sacrifice for him and for their other children. They placed him for adoption out of a love that is unfathomable by many. We may be his parents and “parenting” him… but we aren’t the only parents he has. We aren’t the only parents that love him. They will always be a part of his life through an open adoption agreement. Denying him of his family is not an option for us. Why deny him more love? Why deny him his identity? Why deny these amazing birth parents the ability to see the beautiful boy his is. They gave us a lifelong gift… the greatest gifts are those that you can share in the recipients enjoyment. They can see how happy he makes us, which makes them happy. His original birth certificate may be official sealed after today, but his roots are not.

Thank you Teri and James, today wasn’t possible without you. We are forever in your debt.