Today we are fortunate to have a second guest post from adoptee, Pavel Kurecka. Pavel previously shared his experience and difficulty in obtaining his passport due to the closed records system we currently have. Today he shares a potential source of information that many adoptees may be able to use to find answers. I’m grateful to Pavel for sharing. Please kindly comment and share any thoughts or additional suggestions for adoptees.
Adoptees, Never Discount a Potential Source – Pavel Kurecka
Information about adoptees has been a secret for many of us. In fact, those of us in the baby boomer generation – as adults – are legally prevented from obtaining information about ourselves in the same way that a non-adoptee can. (And I am not referring to registries – they may work for some, but they require both the adoptee and a birth parent to register; that level of luck [both knowing about the registry and consenting] is rare and it is insulting that government and “charities” tell adult adoptees that, absent such luck, you are SOL.) However, there are other, legal ways that information can be found. Here is one example; required a bit of luck, but maybe others, knowing of it, may also find that luck.
It was a cold, bitter winter. The night before that day, I think it was a Wednesday, but it was a week day, there had been a substantial snow storm – and for Michigan, that means something. There was over a foot of new snow and that added to the over two feet already on the ground (reminiscent of January 1968). But the weather did not bother me as it usually would. I was home from university for an end-of-year break. It was a chance to see my family and, most important, my then fiancée.
(I was over 800 miles away for my studies, and this was well before Skype™).
This fiancée, whose first name was Lynette, and I had planned for a wedding ceremony in the upcoming September; that would give all friends and family a chance to plan ahead if they chose to attend and give her and I the summer for some vacationing. This, of course, meant doing much of the wedding planning during that break.
Adoptee Search – Details Make the Difference
Bit of background. Lynette was Roman Catholic (you would have to ask her if she still is) and she wanted a wedding done according to the customs of that church. My adoptive parents raised me as Roman Catholic, but that had worn off. I point this out only because the Roman Catholic church will only marry a man and woman if both are “never yet married” or widowed. And they require proof. This is generally done with baptismal certificates. Not only does the church keep records of its parishioners’ “sacraments” in its ledgers, these records are also copied onto the baptismal certificate. No marriage listed on the back of the certificate meant that, in the eyes of the church, one had not been married and was eligible to be married.
We were planning the marriage at the church where my fiancée was a parishioner. Besides the fact that I was not a parishioner anywhere, that was the tradition. So, my fiancée’s baptismal certificate was already on file, but I needed to obtain my baptismal certificate from the parish where that was done. That I did – on that snowy day when the roads were quite a challenge and I felt lucky that the parish office was open.
After I returned home with it, I wanted to see what it looked like (earlier that year I had seen my grandfather Friedrich’s from 1886 and I was wondering if mine was as ornate (it wasn’t). But here is where the good luck entered in. In the spot for Mother’s Name, was listed my birth Mother; the spot for Father’s Name was blank. On the reverse, where other “sacraments” were listed, were my adoptive Parents, noted as Foster Parents. (Legally, that was their status when the baptism was done.)
My adoptive Mother did not take this well. She immediately insisted on looking at it and, before I could ask to have it back, she jammed it in her purse, got on a coat, and drove to the parish office where she demanded that 1. the certificate be updated and 2. a very good explanation of why this happened be presented. The reason was the official church ledger listed my birth mother by name (it still does). My adoptive Mother had to be satisfied with a redone certificate with her and my adoptive Father listed as the parents on the front and no parents mentioned on the reverse.
Adoptees Searching and the Baptismal Certificate
I know of no other instance where this has happened, but I am sure I am not unique. I am told, by those who would know, that the church’s proper procedure to keep denying adoptees their biological heritage is to place a note in the ledger directing all inquiries to the local diocesan office where at a letter under official seal will attest to the baptism post-facto (and probably affirm no prior “blessed” marriages). Yet for others, it may be a place to look.