Thursday, July 12, 2012

In Search of My Father: Part 1

"If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough." -Audrey Hepburn

My biological father passed away a year ago now. And my struggle with our relationship in life has lingered on after his death.

This struggle was once again brought to life recently when I needed to go to the vital records office to get a copy of my birth certificate and copies of his death and birth certificates.

(Let me digress for a moment to explain... I have made it 36 years of my life without an official birth certificate. I have an "heirloom" certificate from my birth hospital, which is a pretty piece of paper with my birth stats on it, which has been accepted to get my drivers licences, marriage certificates, mortgages... how scary is that in terms of identity theft??? Some fluffed up piece of paper with the words "Birth Certificate" in Old English across the top has never once been questioned as my identity???)

Anyhow, I want a passport and I know I needed my birth certificate plus I wanted my fathers legal papers for my records.

So off to Maine I went for a trip to the Vital Records office.

And my heart wrenching day from hell was about to begin....

The office was very small with one woman behind the counter. I asked her for the appropriate paperwork for my 3 requests and promptly filled them out as there was nobody else waiting. I figured I could be in and out in 15 minutes. As I handed them back to her under her plexiglass shield, she kindly smiled and told me it would just be a couple of minutes.

True to her word, she called me back up 5 minutes later. I could see only 1 state-issued document in her hand and my heart sunk.

"I am sorry." She looked very sad. The sadness in her eyes brought tears to my own.

"There is no father listed on my birth certificate is there?"

She shook her head. "I am so sorry." she repeated. "But I cannot give you his records without proof of lineage."

I knew in the back of my head that he was not listed on my birth certificate, my mother had told me that a very long time ago. I knew also because I had to have a DNA test when I was 10 because the State of Maine had requested it to garnish his wages for child support. But when she pushed my birth certificate through the window and the 'Father-Name' block was empty, my heart dropped. I could not stop the tears now as I stood in front of this poor woman. "I have my marriage license that he is listed on..."

I handed her my marriage license... which, again, I am not sure how I was able to add him to that when he was not even on my birth certificate... oh wait, the birth certificate I did not even have to provide to get my marriage licence!

She looked up at me and paused, "I will take this." She made a note on my request forms and then quickly printed me his birth and death certificates.

I can not even express my gratitude to actually get a kind-hearted, sympathetic employee in a position that she was in.

"How can I have him added to my birth certificate? I can not leave that blank? I know DNA results exist that prove his is my father since the State of Maine required it to get child support from him."

"If the state required it, there would have been a court case. Start over at the district court. They should be able to help you."

With my papers in hand, I walked out to my car, got in and just started to bawl...

(To be continued....)


  1. That is heartbreaking. I have had a tumultious relationship with my father over the years, but he has always been there (numerous) flaws and all. I hope you can get it all sorted out and get the paperwork you want to keep. :(

  2. I'm sorry! More than you know, I know how you're feeling!