Monday, March 17, 2008

Maybe I don't exist?

I decided to take today off from work to do some minor errands and what not. One of the things that I had hoped to accomplish was to apply for my passport.

I managed to get the appropriate photographs taken at my local AAA office. I filled out the form completely. However, when I examined my birth certificate, I realized that I have never actually laid eyes on my honest-to-goodness validated birth certificate. The crumbling and torn certificate that I have carted around with me for decades is a "Notification of Birth Registration". It lists my birth name and date on it and the file number of my actual birth certificate. However, it is not embossed with a raised seal (like an office birth certificate would be) and it does not list the legal name of my mother or the place of my birth.

The document was valuable when I was in public school since it listed all my inoculations on the reverse. And, it has been good enough to establish citizenship for every job change I have effected in the last two decades. It also was sufficient documentation to prove my citizenship when applying for my security clearance a few years ago. However, it is insufficient to get me a passport.

So, I did accomplish something else productive today. I mailed off for two validated certified copies of my birth certificate from the city of Baltimore. I look forward to seeing what the official document says about me. A long time ago, my mother mentioned that she did not list my biological father on the document. It's no secret who he is. However, at the time, she did not want to link him with my birth.

Many times, I have officially listed his name on official documents recording my official identity in all its subtle nuances. If his name is not actually on my birth certificate, does that make me subject to fraud charges? (Due to certain family circumstances, I doubt that he'd offer to amend the document if he is not listed. That's a very long and somewhat painful story.)

Additionally, I have listed my paternal half-brother on legal documents as such. Without a legal document (ie, my birth certificate) backing up my claim that T is my brother, does that additional claim constitute fraud?

So, while I need this silly embossed/certified/validated document to prove my identity to the Department of State, I am highly curious what else it reveals about me. Well, at least the 'official' me.

I KNOW who I am on an existential level, so no bit of bureaucratic flotsam is going to change the real me. It just increases my curiosity regarding the 'me' that is documented out 'there'.


Julie said...

IANAL, but... I don't think it's fraud to provide information that you believe in good faith to be true. The fact that your mother chose to exclude certain information from your birth certificate doesn't make you a fraudster!

Summer said...

Are you going on a trip that requires a passport? My careless person that filled in my birth certificate gave me the wrong middle name. They gave me my father's middle name plus they marked my sex as Male!!!!! My parents had to get an afadavid to legally change the damn thing. It's pretty funny going through customs when they look at the cerificate and paperwork that is with it. I hope yours is copasetic.

briwei said...

I can't see how it would be fraud. The fact that there is no legal document does not make it any less true. Further, it is easily provable. Fraud is about intent. By my meager legal skills, you are safe.

barbie2be said...

i didn't even have a birth certificate until i turned 16. my parents just never ordered one. i had to go to the hall of records and ask for them to look up my birth record and then give me a certified copy. thus reinforcing my (sadly) mistaken belief that i was adopted.