Her Non-Cert OBC

I received a shrunken down, photocopied, non certified version of my daughter’s original birth certificate.

I am underwhelmed.

I do not mean that negatively rather I expected to feel something more than I did when I opened the envelope.

I opened it, stared at the receipt that came with it for a bit before looking at the OBC copy. It still looks fake.  Does the one she would get look different?

It is sort of an odd feeling. Surreal? Unreal? Questionably real?

What does this document mean? Moreover, what did I expect it would mean?

I was surprised to see they had not spelled her birth name incorrectly. It was spelled incorrectly on that ever so lovely petition to adopt notice published in the law bulletin.

As I expected the addressed listed as my address was 2130 North Kenmore, Chicago, IL, the site of the maternity “home”.

All other info was seemingly correct although I question why her father’s age was listed but not his name? I know why his name is not there (he was not present to admit paternity after birth…rather only present to surrender his rights to her pre-birth). I also think the age is wrong. They say he was 19 at the time of her birth. I think he was 18 and would have turned 19 a few months later. I could be wrong. I do know his birthday (and remember, oddly that his fathers birthday plus his mothers adds up to his).

It did remind me of the time she was born. I had not recalled that. I recall going to the hospital in the evening of May 15 (or so I thought). I think they sent me back to the “home”. I believe I puked up a coke on the wall of Gehring Hall. My friend Carol might remember more details.

I do not remember going to the hospital, or being admitted. My mind jumps from puking on the wall to being in the delivery room and having the doctors move the mirror away from my view so I could not see her being born. Prior to that, I remember hallucinating when they gave me Demerol (and told me I was “lucky” I was with Easter House as “clinic” girls from Gehring do not normally get pain killers). I remember the bloody half moon nail marks I made in my caseworker’s hands during labor. Then I jump to some quiet time alone with my daughter  (time I was also told I was “lucky to have courtesy of Easter House”), Whitney Houston “Greatest Love of All” on the radio. My mother arrives at some point. The memories are all foggy, jumbled, the images float in and out and in again.

One less foggy item is that I now know the time she was born.

I suppose that is a good thing to remember.

I stare at the document, at her name, well, not her name, but my daughters name. My dream daughter. The ghost child I carried around in an invisible ergobaby wrap for 18 years. Where did that dream girl go when I found the human version of my child? I feel like she is gone, sort of, but that ergo is still wrapped around my torso.

What am I to do with this now? Put it in “the box”? File it somewhere? What value does it hold now that I have it, if any?

Yes, I have proof my daughter exists, yet she doesn’t.

10 Thoughts.

  1. In response to my friend suz ‘ s memories leading up to the birth and/surrender of amber..st. Joe’s did send her back to gehring. ..she wanted a coke and had same and did throw it up in the hallway..i believe that night was also the dream of the fuzzy oranges.. i don’t remember which house mother was on duty when she finally did go into labor…as as matter of fact I don’t even remember sue leaving…i do remember her mother swooping in and then sue was spirited off to CT.

    • ha! carol I knew you would remember. and no, fuzzy oranges was earlier (or later?). dont think it was that night. i thought it was after.

      oh and my mom left first. I came back to Gehring and Easter House sent me home a day or so later.

      • Hmm..all this had me trying to remember brandon’s entrance into the world..i remember getting snippy with the intern who insisted on asking if I was certain that my water had broken or had I urinated on myself..i remember ice chips..i believe pitosin was given..having gone to st. Joe’s around 12??? And Brandon was born at 5:21 pm on June 21, 1986 who knew that alondra would be born on June 21, 1994 at 7:21 p.m.

  2. Wow Suz, this is so damned poignant and bringing stirring up my memories of a similar evening, but in a Booth Home for Mothers in Pittsburgh. They did exactly the same thing with Steve’s obi, had the father’s age but not his name.

    For some of us, we never really get them back. Even after we saw that sealed birth certified. The fact that it remains non-certified feels like just another way to marginalize our role.

    Anyway, thank you writing this…it’s a wonder we survived to be any kind of a normal person.

  3. My chest is tight, my heart is beating fast and there is a pit in my stomach. You all (including my own mother) went through so much and continue to endure so much. Thank you all for sharing these raw details and emotions.

  4. Suz, your daughter does exist and I hope some day she will really get to know you as the good woman you are. She is not a name on a crummy piece of paper, nor is she the fantasy you clung to because there was no reality to connect with. She is your daughter with your DNA and her father’s, whether she chooses to acknowledge that or not. She is the real and imperfect person she has grown to be, her own person, not anyone’s fantasy, and that is good.

    I know how hard it is to have found a child who is not interested, who turns away. My son did that for almost 20 years after being found and it hurts like hell. But he was never been not my son, nor is your daughter not your daughter, whether she likes that or not. It takes a very long time to let the fantasy child, the lost baby, go, but it has to be done in order to accept the real adult with her own life and issues and independence.

    I had one of those lousy short form OBC s for my son because he was in foster care, and it meant nothing to me. I gave it to him at one point; I think he lost it when he moved a few times.
    Papers are symbolic and legal, but blood and DNA are real and forever, no matter what emotional and relationship rejections and problems we have in reunion. I know this is small comfort now, but it is better than nothing, and I do not think that the legal papers can mean the same thing to mothers as they do to adopted persons in most cases.

  5. I was underwhelmed when I received my daughter’s OBC too. I was nervous opening the envelope because I expected to be really upset but for some reason it just didn’t hit me that hard.

    My daughter’s birth name was not on there but I knew that already. No one asked me what her name was, they just printed up the certificate without it and told me to sign it. I suppose they thought it didn’t matter. Of course, very early in my reunion my daughter asked me if I had a name for her and of course I did, so I told her. It seemed to matter very much to her that I had named her so it makes me mad that they never put it on the birth certificate. The father’s age was on it as well but not his name. That seemed weird to me too. If you can’t put his name on their based on information that you received from me, why is it ok to put his age down?

    The most important part for me was seeing MOTHER next to my names. I have no other children and I felt like I wasn’t really a mother for so long that seeing it in black and white was really something for me.

    Seeing the OBC really brought me back to that time in the hospital after the birth, like signing the birth certificate, more so than her actual birth for some reason. I showed my daughter her OBC (she has not requested it herself) and she said it looked more or less the same, outside of different names for the parents of course. When I told that to my therapist, she said, “They really tried to obliterate you, didn’t they?” Which is true and awful and sad but her comment also inspired me a bit. They tried to obliterate me, but I’m still here. And now I can hold in my hand something that says so in black and white!

    How awful that they told you that you were lucky to have painkillers and to see your baby! I’m going to concur with Carol on this one and say that it’s amazing we survived it.

  6. I remember the date, time, how much she weighed, how long she was and every moment of the three days we spent together in the hospital. I was treated well and considerately in the hospital – the nurses routinely expressed concerned that I was making it harder on myself by having my daughter with me in the room (rather than the nursery) the entire time I was in the hospital, but I would have it no other way. And honestly, how much harder did I make it? It was downright brutal regardless. The discharge nurse decided honesty was her best policy and told me she couldn’t believe I “gave my child to strangers” (in retrospect she had a point) and sent me into a complete tail-spin, post c-section (maybe not her finest hour).

    All of the details are permanently etched, however much I with they’d go away.

    xoxox to you, dear Suz.

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