Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mothers Fight For Birth Certificates of Their Children

Imagine nine months excitedly awaiting the birth of your child and when the time comes, you deliver a dead or stillborn infant.

To add insult to injury, you receive no record of his birth. Just a death certificate. “Having to sign a fetal death certificate triggers a lot of feelings. As one dad said to me, that’s only half the story.”

“The experience of giving birth and death at the exact same time is something you don’t understand unless you’ve gone through it,” Sari. Edber, fighting for a change in the law, said.

Mothers of stillborns feel the negation of their child';s birth by lack of certificate to officiate it, adds to their pain and loss..

The New York Times reports that in the last six years, 19 states, including New Jersey, have enacted laws allowing parents who have had stillbirths to get such certificates. Similar legislation is under consideration in several more, among them New York.
It all sounds very familiar to mothers such as myself who never received and a birth certificate and have no record of birthing a child they lost at birth or shortly after to adoption  Like these moms, our fight is also symbolically important and about "dignity and validation.”

Joanne Cacciatore, an Arizona woman who started the movement called “Missing Angels” after her daughter, Cheyenne, was stillborn 13 years ago notes: “It’s the same reason why we want things like marriage licenses and baptismal certificates.”  IF ONLY!

And yet, something that should be a simple no-brainer is mired in American religious politics. Many antiabortion groups say the laws fill a need for parents. But some abortion rights supporters see the push for these laws as a barely disguised political move to undermine abortion rights.

Joanne Cacciatore said:  “When I called and asked for my daughter’s birth certificate, the woman asked how she died, and when I told her, she said I didn’t have a baby, I had a fetus, and I couldn’t get a birth certificate.”

The other concern is such birth certificates could lead to fraud.

It is an oddity to me that Canadian adoption access laws are bilateral, yet Americans cannot even THINK about seeking mutual access to the OBC...a certificate cannot aid mothers in searching but can offer some of them some amount peace.  To ask for access to OBC's to be granted to all to whom the certificate applies is greeted among U.S. adoption reformers like if somehow asking for anything for ourselves takes away from adoptees quest.

Sadly, such short-sighted reformers not only have compassion for us...they don't even see that politically it defuses those who try to pit mothers against adoptees and puts us both on the same sid eof the argument...

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