Changing the facts of adoption like birthdate

Changing a child’s birth date

That’s the title of for a thread on a recent adoption forum site.
Yes, you read correctly the subject of discussion on an adoption thread.
The family in question had apparently adopted a boy who had been abandoned.
So the actual date of when he was born is uncertain.

Happy-Birthday-to-You-Image-Card-8

 

They told us Jan 11 2002.
We are considering changing his birth date to July 11 2002 because:
I am a January child and hated it. I never had birthday parties in the summer (I know we can always move the parties to the summer …)
– he is developmentally behind, so a later birth date might benefit him re. kindergarten, school etc. etc.
– we can’t really verify when his birthday is

I assume they are the authorities of whichever Country or state in which the child, which they adopted, was born.
The thing that really made my jaw drop to the floor was:

I am a January child and hated it. I never had birthday parties in the summer

So, leaving aside the legality, the ethics and the morality of whether one should even think about changing a child’s birth date; the initial quoted reason for seeking to change the birth date, wasn’t the child’s developmental issues, but the fact that one of the parents has a birthday in January and they hated it. They hated it because no one ever came to the parties! That is, in my honest opinion, one of the most shallow and trivial reasons, excuses that I have yet heard.
birth-certAn adopted child loses so much by the time they are in the system. Their birth parents, where they were born, siblings and relatives. They may even “lose” their country of birth, culture and language, if they are adopted by parents from a different country and racial group.

Getting back to the idea that you can just change essential information about the child that you are adopting or have adopted, I find . . . well I have no real words to express the horror that I feel. My personal circumstances are almost the same. I have no idea of when I was actually born and where. My birth date is not factually correct. I celebrate my day of birth on the date that I was officially taken in by the orphanage. I was a premature baby. The authorities at the time had no idea how old I was. They guessed. They assumed that I was about three days old when I was found. But I could quite easily have been older or younger. I could have been born three days before, a week before, maybe two weeks before or I could have been born the day before or just an hour before I was found. My birth date is down as the sixth of the month. But I was found on the third of the month. So already the facts about sshhmy own birth, about me have been altered and that is something that rankles the hell out of me. I don’t actually know why. But it does, it angers me. Probably because I have no lineage. I have no collective history that I can tap into like the majority of people who I know. I don’t start to exist until I was logged into and registered with the orphanage. I know that somewhere out there, there are people who I am genetically connected to. But it is extremely unlikely that I will never know who or where they are. The birth certificate is at least a formal vindication that you are real. That society acknowledges your and accepts existence. If the information on that document is false, has been tampered with, what does that make you, the holder?
An untruth, a lie?

I have to ask myself in the case of the adoptive family turning to an on-line forum to discuss the pros and cons of wanting to change their child’s birth date, why?
It appears to me that it is purely to suite the parents. Would we, as a society, in any other circumstances, even contemplate such an action? We are not permitted to do this with ‘naturally’ born children. It is document fraud and I don’t think the idea would cross the minds of any, “normal” “right-thinking” sane person. Yet some people who adopt seem to think that changing information, birth date, place of birth, name given (whether given by the birth parents or orphanage) is something that is perfectly acceptable. As someone who has been on the receiving end of this, I’d just like to say

IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE

I don’t think that changing even the name should be allowed. I firmly believe that the child’s original details should be kept intact, until such time as that child reaches their majority and can decide for themselves whether they wish to retain the name that was given to them “at birth” or not. In a similar fashion I would advocate, if I could that all transracial adoptees would have to receive proper education in their culture, history and language of their birth until they reach the age of at least sixteen. But that’s another point and another article.

adoption_agreement-300x200What is the point of seeking to change this information? It will not change the child. It will not make that child into a “different” child. It will not lessen the circumstances of the child’s abandonment or adoption. Personally I think it only makes their journey more distressful and even more complicated than it already is. We all want and need to know where we have come from. For the adoptee that desire, that need is even greater. Sometimes it is the only thing that the adoptee has. Their name, their date of birth and where they were born are the only real roots that they have. The only thing that grounds them.
I don’t think that adoptive parents, agencies, social workers or courts should have the right or the ability to change intrinsic information about an adopted child.

51xsH58tJwL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Haven’t adoptees lost enough?  Adoptees know so little. They have no medical history. No known relatives, or at least not that they know about or allowed to know about. As a child an adoptee is alone. Yes they have a new family. They have relatives but they have to get to know these people first. It isn’t organic, it isn’t natural and sometimes the child may not gel with all the family members.  Adoptees may not even have our own culture and language to turn to.
Have they not lost enough without them having to have the few remaining shreds of original truth taken from them?

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15 thoughts on “Changing the facts of adoption like birthdate

  1. I read the same post before I saw your reply and while there were a hundred things that I found appalling, one of the worst was her statement that he was behind and so that made it okay. It’s like she sees her child in a static state: he is behind and always will be. I adopted my daughter from an African country as “infant.” The agency gave me an estimated age and let me pick her birthday. She was so tiny and delayed for her estimated age I could have easily picked a later DOB but I respected the info I was provided and gave her a DOB that involved a good story I could tell her about why I chose it. As I parented her, I sensed an increasing and confusing dissonance between her age and her developmental delays and maturity. Through learning more about the manifestations of incorrect age, the specific corrupt practices (related to underestimating ages) perpetuated by the agency, and getting correct diagnoses for some undisclosed health issues, I realized that my daughter was actually older than I had been told. She is now school-age, in the correct grade for what I believe is her correct age, and excelling both academically and socially. Had I assumed that her initial delays were permanent and “re-aged” her accordingly, she would now be expected to act as a peer to children two years younger and that would have created significant problems. Age dissonance is real and it matters!! To create is intentionally is simply cruel!!!

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    1. Hello Ali, thanks for taking the time to read my post. We have to talk about these things openly and with honesty. Doesn’t mean that everyone will agree, but if we don’t talk how can we gain a better understanding of ourselves and each other. I am glad to hear from you and respect and kudos to you of respecting your child’s DOB even though it was in fact unknown. I am glad to hear that your daughter is now doing well. Wishing you and your daughter all the best as you both journey together.
      Kind regards
      Lucy

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    2. I am an adoptee that knows so very little about my birth mother and her family and when I was in grade school my adoptive parents were told that I was ‘slow’ — as an adult I now know that those who said that were the ones that were actually ‘slow’ but reading your comment I now can’t help but wonder if part of that ‘slowness’ wasn’t related to not feeling like a part of a ‘real’ family [I say this not because I wasn’t part of a real family, but they weren’t MY real family]. I wrote my master’s thesis on ambiguous loss because that is what I experienced raising my mentally handicapped son, but I now think it could also apply to what we adoptees grow up with … we have a family, but it’s not OUR family. In the case of my son I grieved the loss of a normal child, and every time a normal milestone was not reached I grieved that loss all over again; seeing families that are genetically connected brings up that loss for adopted children. Anyway, thank you for allowing me to ramble … 🙂

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  2. Hi

    I appreciate how hard it must be to lose one’s heritage and identity. what would have happened to you if you had not been adopted? What opportunities are there for an an abandoned baby in a Third World orphanage? I know of a number of Cambodian children that have either died or become part of the vice trade at 13. Unfortunately in Thailand, China and there are still not that many domestic adoptions which would be the best scenario and unfortunately the future can be extremely bleak for many of those children residing in orphanages,

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    1. Hello Fiona thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
      Yes it is a very difficult one. If I had not been adopted then it is more than likely I would not have survive infancy. Even if I did it’s extremely unlikely that I’d be doing what I do now (though not entirely impossible, just highly improbable). One of the problems that many TRAs have is that all this information is hind-sight discovery and that can invariably be difficult to handle. Especially if the “truth” actually contradicts what you may or may not have been told when you were a child or a teenager about the circumstances of your adoption.
      Yes sadly I agree that in Asia (Southeast and East) about domestic adoptions.
      Who knows what would have happened to me had I survived and remained in the orphanage

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  3. Lucy, just because you might not have survived infancy in China is no reason to invalidate the pain you are experiencing now. I am sorry you have had to travel this road. I do understand that a child needs a birthdate, and when it is not available, the authorities need to “guestimate.” But what is so preposterous is that state legislatures allowed the attorney and adoptive parents to fill out the amended birth certificate with whatever lies they wanted to tell. They could change the birthdate, time and place of birth. And of course the parents’ names. And when the birth certificate is sealed, American adoptees can’t prove they are citizens. Babies born in America are citizens. But if you cover that up, what then? Thank you for bringing this issue to the internet.

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    1. Hello Mary,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my article. I don’t deny or want to invalidate the pain that I felt, feel. I’m just saying I can now understand the perspectives which certain people and groups take. I don’t condone their behaviour, I don’t agree with what they say. I’m just in a place where I have gone through the blinding anger and to a certain extent hate and come out of the other side able to “deal” with such extreme and knee jerk reactions and behaviours.
      I totally agree that the ability of state and other organisations to be able to intervene even further in what is already an extreme intervention (adoption) and change “facts” about another person’s life which will impact upon that life for as long as they exist should not be allowed.
      But it happens and continues to happen and some people such as the family on that forum seem to be handling the idea of changing a DOB, like taking an item of clothing back to store for a refund or an exchange.
      Ignorance, lack of education and in some cases I am sure unsuitability to be considered as adoptive parents is what needs to change. Not all adults are up for the job of being a parent and it shouldn’t be just about money or demographics. There is still so much that goes on behind adoption that needs to be talked about openly.

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  4. I too read this the other day and was absolutely shocked. I am so worried for this child’s future. You can’t just change a kid’s narrative because they are adopted.

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  5. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:

    51xsH58tJwL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Haven’t adoptees lost enough? Adoptees know so little. They have no medical history. No known relatives, or at least not that they know about or allowed to know about. As a child an adoptee is alone. Yes they have a new family. They have relatives but they have to get to know these people first. It isn’t organic, it isn’t natural and sometimes the child may not gel with all the family members. Adoptees may not even have our own culture and language to turn to.
    Have they not lost enough without them having to have the few remaining shreds of original truth taken from them?’

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  6. Thank you for your thought-provoking words.

    My paper trail is rife with falsehoods. After speaking with individuals who procured the children of others and some children who were procured through the same system I was processed through, I am left with the distinct impression that all of those who made false statements regarding facts did so primarily to protect some inner pain that they held deep inside.

    My circumstances were quite “like taking an item of clothing back to store for a refund or an exchange.” (See, http://basnavely1.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/a-return-policy-for-defective-infants/ ). Perhaps I should be “grateful” (i.e., feel indebted) because I was not returned, but I am not…

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    1. Hello Brent
      Thank you for taking the time and trouble of reading and commenting on my article.
      I have a fair idea of what you speak of and I too have been told on numerous occasions that I should be both grateful and indebted. Which, I am not, either. Adoption I feel for many is not about the child and all about the adults.

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