I was going to start this piece with the sentence “This is who I am if I should die ” and then write my “Name at Birth”, for all my following generations to be able to google. If the law will not allow me to use my identity now, reclaim it, then I will put it out there in cyberspace for all eternity. Many official NZ BDM documents state on them “Name at Birth” and then prevent every adoptee in this country from writing their actual “Name at Birth”. We have to write our adopted name. Legally, we have to. legally we have no choice. We have to tell a lie. How can this be possible ? It defies belief to me.
Now that I go to type that name, the name given to me at birth, I am reminded that I am caught between two identities, and I really do not know who I am. Some days I imagine changing my name to something I make up myself, and I start all over from scratch. If I made my own name, would I then be who I am ? I really am very confused about who I am and who I should be, and how the hell I can leave something legal and official for my future generations to find, so my true identity is never forgotten or mis-represented. I cannot think how to leave an authentic trail to my authentic identity. The courts and legal system will not allow it.
I have two identities, one I had for about 1O months, but was never called, and one I have lived with for nigh on 6 decades. Neither is really who I am. I could say I am **** **** ***, the daughter of **** and **** . They are my parents, the ones who were blotted out of my life as a tiny baby. My father does not even feature on my birth certificate, he was blotted out from day dot. The space where my fathers name on my birth certificate should be, says “NR” – for Not Recorded. He is not even worth a mention, and yet he was very much in the picture, in my mothers life, in my life. If they don’t write his name on the birth certificate then perhaps he can be erased too ? Just as I would be in a matter of months.
I could say I am **** **** **** – I am still to afraid to write my name here lest my adopted family read this and identify me, I am scared of them, and see them reading my inner thoughts on adoption as pearls to swine – the name my adopters chose for me and who I have been for all these years. That is who I thought I was, who I have been living for decades, but that surname is not mine, not my children’s and not my grandchildren’s. And those first names are the ones I was changed to be. I have been questioning this for the last twelve months. My maiden surname is my adopters surname. No genetic connection at all to my DNA, or my offsprings DNA. Yet, my Government and the legal system of my country – Aotearoa, Land of The Long White Cloud, or more like the colonial run and led, white majority, male majority led, New Zealand, insist I say this is who I am. They re- issued my birth certificate, erased **** **** ****, legally, forever. They never thought for one second, that I may want my name back, and that I would demand my authentic identity back when I became an adult. Or that I would want to reclaim my two biological genetic parents. We had no rights then, as that tiny baby, and we still have no rights now, as adults. We don’t matter. We do not count. We were innocent pawns in a game of infertility, social stigma and religious dogma.
Closed adoptees have two birth certificates, two identities, and we have to, by law, play the role and be the second one, whether we like it or want it. When we become adults; who can get a job, vote, drink alcohol, drive a car and more importantly for the system, pay taxes; we do not have the right to get our true identities back. It is illegal. There is no law that allows this, unless you can come up with the most extraordinary of reasons, and want to take on the legal system, or are strong enough to take on the legal system. If you do, I believe you must have the most strongest of constitutions, the determination of a bull and the patience of Job himself.
I was born, my birth had to legally be registered by my mother even though she knew was to lose me to closed adoption forever. They made her name me, the baby she was about to lose into the black abyss, then they took that name away. They thought I would never want it or ever need it returned. They were wrong. They legally erased my identity and replaced it with a new one, and gave me a new birth certificate. That birth certificate says my adopters are my natural parents. This is misleading, untrue, unethical and immoral. It is also criminal. I should have one birth certificate, like every other non- adopted person in this country, with my both my genetic parents names on it. So that I forever go down in history as their child. The truth.
My first birth certificate had to be especially applied for. I had to nominate a counsellor and pick the certificate up from this counsellor. As far as I can gather, this woman was not an actual qualified counsellor, but a respected person like a JP, who was entrusted to be able to give me my longed for identity. How ironic that this strange woman gets to look at my birth certificate before I even do. She reads it, then prepares me for any shocking information that may send me into an emotional tail spin. How ironic is this also, when closed adoption is the emotional tail spin and I have been in it for years. She “prepared” me by telling me ‘it was unusual in that my mother was older…most mothers who gave up their babies to adoption were very young’. My mother was 38 when she had me. I find telling me this information just plain nosy. Who gives a f*** how old she is? And that is my business to read, not hers to tell me. We had some other banal conversation and she something condescending to me and I left. So much for the ‘counsellor’.
I want my identity back, but everywhere I turn there is a huge roadblock. Some who are in the field, for example an adoption social worker I spoke to just recently, had never even heard of an adoption discharge, and yet it is in the adoption law of this country. When I ask questions of NZ BDM’s, they often give the most bizarre answers – the clerks do not know what I am referring to. No one in my country, the so called professionals or officials, seems to know too much at all about closed adoption. And yet we adoptees have to beg and scrape and plead for what is, by rights, ours to have. I have written many letters to the Minister and the Prime Minister on this subject. I get nowhere. fFellow adoptees have been advocating for changes from the Government for decades, before I took up the cause, with little results. I cannot help but feel they just don’t care at all about us, and in a few more decades we will all be dead anyway.
I want to leave my identity online for my future generations, to make sure they get the truth, that my truth is not erased. That I feel I can somehow beat the legal system that denies me my rights to be who I choose to be. That tried to erase me. I can leave papers to my future generations, but they can get lost and misplaced. How do I leave this earth as I entered it ? The natural born child of my parents? How do I stamp my identity on this earth forever as that child/person, with those origins? Perhaps none of us can. Most of us are forgotten after a generation or two. Perhaps I am making too much of it all. I just do not want my future generations to be given false misleading information about their genetic origins. That is yet another – wrong – legacy of closed adoption.