In the past 35 years of being in reunion and having my true birth certificate and true baptismal certificate, along with my legal birth certificate that states that I was born to a woman who did not give birth to me, and a baptismal certificate in my adoptive name that states that the person named was baptized three years before that person legally existed, I find it amazing that many other people are confused by my identities.
I, however, am not confused. It is troubling to view my true and falsified documents, but I know who I am, and I know my legal name prior to adoption. I know my religious name prior to adoption. Actually,my religious name will always be Doris Michol Sippel because, according to the Catholic Church, once baptized, a person is always that name in the eyes of God.
Because I have these documents, people assume all kinds of nasty things about me. They assume that I falsified my own documents. Some people have accused me of fraud. Some people are so confused themselves about who I am that they argued with me because they could not warp their brain around my life’s complexities.
It is not the fault of reunion, nor is it that my adoptive mother threw my sealed birth records and adoption decree at me three days into my telephone reunion in 1974, that caused this “identity” problem for me. Opening up adoptees’ sealed records will not cause otherwise intelligent adoptees to go into a tale-spin. The identity confusion for the adoptee comes in when the adoptee realizes that the government is at fault. Changing an adoptee’s birth certificate is inherent within the process of legally adopting an adoptee. It is part of the legal documentation of the exchange of that baby or older child from one set of parents to the other set of parents. The parents do not change the infant’s name: they do not cause the legal incongruities — the court and Registrar of Vital Statistics do that.
However, adoptive parents come to accept, expect, and eagerly await their new adoptee into their lives and with the receipt of that baby, they (the adopting parents) wait for the “new” amended birth certificate to arrive in the mail. This “new” birth certificate “proves” that they are the child’s new parents! The “old” parents now no longer exist, so adoptive parents develop an attitude of Entitlement over their adoptee.
But they forget: they would not be ADOPTIVE parents if it were not for the conception and birth of that infant to another set of parents.
When we get to the point of telling the truth in both adoptive-parent-to-adoptee relationships and on the documents that record adoptions (a falsified birth certificate should actually be a Certificate of Adoption), then this adoptee who sometimes feels like an impostor in her own life, will be happy.
Truth in adoption and reproductive technologies needs to happen.