Debate: Amended Birth Certificates

Since I’ve seen various POVs when it comes to amending a child’s birth certificate after adoption I thought I’d start a thread here in Momberries to see what you all think of this issue. (For those who are from outside the U.S. this mainly discusses the process there since that’s what I’m familiar with.)

My opinion summarized is: Issue a new document reflecting the adoptive parents (and the changed name if applicable), yes. That new “amended” birth certificate becoming the “legal” one (to be used for school or other enrollment, obtaining identification, etc.), yes. Sealing the original one so that even the adopted child can’t obtain it, no (although the post-adoption one becomes the official legal document, the original should still be available for informational purposes if the individual requests it). Falsifying information like the date or place of birth, no.

In most other cases where an amended birth certificate is sought I usually support it, such as if there was an error on the original one (e.g. misspellings, or entering the true biological father if the wrong one was originally listed) or if the (adult) child requests it (like many transgender people do). If the state allows it* I even think it should be done with a general (non-marriage-related of course) name change (although in cases such as the ones here where a parent has namer’s remorse and it’s done to a young child the original/amended birth certificates should be treated the same way as with the adoption-related ones mentioned above).

*Some states take a “middle-of-the-road” approach and in non-sensitive cases will attach or add a note to the birth certificate stating the name change (or other amendment/correction). This leaves the old information visible, but it has the same legal weight - e.g. in most states they want the mother to use her maiden (and not married) name on her children’s birth certificates (since a married name can change again because of divorce or remarriage and it provides another identifier that is different from the father’s last name), but a legal name change that amends (or in some cases is eligible to amend) the birth certificate usually changes her maiden/birth name for that purpose.

My birth certificate had to be changed, since my parents were not able to be told my birth name. The amended one only changed my name, everything else remained the same. I don’t have the original in my files, but I have all the information from doctor reports to information about b parents.

My opinion is that a name change should be the only thing that is amended on the birth certificate. I think that also should depend on the age of the child. A 5 year old is probably too old for a name change, a young child wouldn’t remember. This is also assuming that it is a closed adoption. I don’t think anyone else has the right to change any of the other information, especially since it’s not really identifying. Additionally, I’m against lying to adoptees about being adopted so to me it just feels like another form of lying. There’s no reason to change it. [name_m]Even[/name_m] though I don’t have my original certificate, I do think they should be available if adoptees want them. Many non-adoptees have easy access to family records and are in the know, yet adoptees aren’t always granted the same rights especially a form that describes the first day they were born.

@ottertails - I agree with you that objective, factual information (such as the date or place of birth like I mentioned in the OP) should never be falsified to make it look like the adoptive parents gave birth, nor do I think an adopted child should be lied to about their story. I differ from you in that I think the adoptive parents should be reflected on the legal certificate for pragmatic reasons, so you don’t have to explain the adoption or present additional documentation when for example enrolling the child in school or sports (and you’re the parent as far as the law is concerned).

@namefan, I forgot to mention that part because I think that even if there isn’t a name change it’s done since you are the legal parents. I don’t know why that important part slipped my mind :smiley:

We adopted our son at birth. This was about three years ago. His Birthmother had wanted a closed adoption, but we had given her our contact information before he was born in case she changed her mind about wanting contact. We are really happy that she did end up contacting us, however, the adoption is still legally closed. [name_m]Even[/name_m] though it is open in practice and we have regular contact including face to face visits with her, it is still legally closed. There is no process whereby we can amend that, at least not here and now.

So we have no access to the original birth certificate, neither does our son. [name_m]Even[/name_m] though we know all of the information that is on it (and his first and middle name did not change) we can never see it and he can never see it. I think this is wrong. I don’t know if he will ever want it, but I think that he ought to be able to have it.

It took us over two years to be issued a new birth certificate. It was a complicated process. On the new certificate, it lists me as his mother and my husband as his father. This is true information. It does not state that I gave birth to him, it just says “mother” and “father.” But he has two other parents as well. I guess I wish we could all be on there together?

On the other hand, the mere fact that it is an amended certificate meant that when we applied for his social security card, they had to send the birth certficate BACK to vital records to be verified. So that made getting an SSN take several more months. Social security knew by looking at it that it was an amendment. I don’t see where that it noted on there, maybe they are just going by the date of issue? But it was an added layer of red tape and annoyance, so I guess I see why they want the birth certificate to look just like anybody else’s. Hopefully we won’t be hassled about it every time we sign up for school or t-ball or whatever.

In short, I think that a more ideal process would be for 1) all of the parents to be listed on the birth certificate and 2) all agencies, governments, schools, t-ball leagues, etc to treat the birth certificate of an adoptee the same as the birth certificate as a non-adoptee. In the event of a closed adoption, since the adoptee would have access to other information upon turning 18, the original birth certificate should be part of that. I think that the right of the adoptee to have all of his information trumps the right of the adoptive and birth parents to keep that information private forever and ever.