This week has been full to the brim.
I have spent most of it trying to find my birth certificate. A piece of paper issued to my parents 46 years ago which proves without question that I am a British Citizen.
I’ve lost it!
Not that I ever remember having it in the first place. I am pretty useless, both at remembering and keeping my important documents safe and sound. The chances of important documentation being somewhere safe and sound and somewhere I will actually remember, without a trail of breadcrumbs is, well, unlikely.
Two forays in to the loft space turned up nothing.
Although, I did find the log book for the old car, (which incidentally reminds me I haven’t had my new one yet?), my diaries from when I was repping (should probably burn those) and some fab old photos. Along with a million empty boxes. I think every item we have bought over the last ten years has its original box upstairs, there are Lego boxes, boxes for hair straighteners that have been replaced three times since and boxes for phones, laptops, you name it there is a box for it, all neatly stacked next to a load of dead flies.
For a few seconds I wonder about all the dead flies. I would think this is not a good sign, but I don’t have time for another case at the moment. I have to solve the mystery of the missing birth certificate first.
After I have been waylaid by Elsie, who was hankering after getting the Christmas Decorations down. “It saves you having to go back up there, doesn’t it?” she says, from the bottom of the ladder. Well that’s as maybe, but where I will put it all for another 6 weeks is anyones guess. We could always use the tree box as a coffee table I suppose. “Why don’t we just put them up?” she asks. I will tell you why my lovely, because by the time Christmas comes around I will be well and truly fucked off with them, that’s why! Oh and because it is not bloody Christmas yet.
The next hour was spent negotiating what date we will put the christmas decoration up!
The best I can offer is a Saturday (usually a Sunday but football will take precedence, no doubt) near the 25th of December. Elsie disappears back in to her room, leaving me swearing profusely at the fact that I can never get the loft hatch closed without losing a bloody finger.
So with everything except my birth certificate, dragged back out the loft (I’m going to have a sort out 😉 ), until my next visit, I contact my Mother. Surely she must have it.
I text her from work on Thursday to ask, it was around about 10 am. By 10.23 am she had responded with a resounding, No. However, what she does have is my ‘original’ birth certificate and my adoption certificate. Hmmm. I thought about this for a moment, uppermost in my mind is the realisation that I clearly do not have her organisation skills and secondly, I’m not sure that a birth certificate in my ‘other’ name will be any good?
The reason I need my birth certificate is to apply for Elsie’s passport.
Over the last year or so I have been paying for Elsie’s school trip to Switzerland, which they are taking in the half term in February. Quite why I left it until now to organise a passport for the trip is a little beyond me but there we have it. I imagine that I thought my finances would be better once I had actually finished paying for said trip. I know, a ridiculous notion.
Anyway, I am under pressure now as the school keep asking for a photocopy of the passport. Why? I don’t know. Insurance maybe? Elsie is becoming really quite stressed about this and mentions it around 400 times a day. I have the form and the photos and it has been countersigned, I have Elsie’s birth certificate, which I managed to locate easily, in a shared file of paperwork for her and Tom, but what I don’t have is mine and because Elsie is under 16, just, I need it.
It is at this point that I start questioning the need for all this bloody stuff.
In a world where I imagine everything about you is stored on some giant database somewhere, do you really need a piece of paper to prove where you were born. It seems unlikely to me that the passport office wouldn’t be able to access information about me, or my children in an effort to determine whether or not we qualify for a passport. Maybe, this is just my scepticism at the how fast HMRC can catch up with you, should they need to.
My next step in this procedure I assumed, was to order a replacement, so after a quick surf around Google, I ended up at the local government website completing an online application for a copy of my birth certificate. Eleven pounds lighter for the privilege and an assurance that it would be with me in within 14 days (I didn’t tell Elsie that bit), I was relieved to almost put it to bed.
Friday I received a phone call from the council office, to inform me that they could not locate my birth certificate with the details I had given them. I didn’t think for one moment that they could, after all this is me. I explained that I had been adopted by my father and therefore, I only had my birth one and not one with my new name, etc, etc. “Oh!” she says, “You will need to phone the central office for that one” and promptly waved me off with the telephone number.
So in the middle of a busy Friday morning, I try to explain what I am looking for to a very helpful chap on the other end of the line, who tells me that actually there will be no such thing. “What, no birth certificate?” This can not be. How can I not have a birth certificate. I have had a passport before, in fact I have had two, different ones (the buddies and I were trying to decide afterwards if this was illegal or not?), but that’s a whole other story, I must have one.
To cut a long and relatively boring story short, it turns out that despite being adopted and even if you decide to change your name a hundred times you will only ever have one birth certificate. This will be issued to you on your arrival in to the world and never ever, will you get another.
Makes perfect sense now.
There is a patient at the surgery who changes her name regularly, goodness knows why, I never ask, it is really none of my business, even if it does seems a bit unnecessary and every time she is given a legal document as proof. However, her birth certificate will always be the one she was given at birth, which will state her original birth name on it.
So, it turns out that I do not need a birth certificate, as my adoption certificate supersedes it. I wonder how I never remembered this when I applied for my last passport, although it was some time ago, yet more evidence that my memory is definitely not improving with age.
Back on the phone to Mum, I inform her that I do indeed need my birth certificate and adoption certificate, which she says she will send me by way of secure post. Saturday morning and my documents arrive safely, with a little note from Mum begging me to keep them somewhere safe. She knows me well.
Taking the almost disintegrated pieces of paper out of the envelope, I notice that Mum has sent me all the adoption paperwork. It was quite weird seeing the court documentation and the order that stated my biological father was to pay £3.00 per week until I am sixteen (I wonder if he did?), but it was seeing his name that was strangest of all. Never having known anything about him, or been interested enough to ask about him made seeing his name in black and white a little bit to real.
I have always felt it unnecessary to replace the Dad I grew up with someone I do not know. My feelings have not changed. However, it does, if only for a moment, make you wonder. What is he like? Do I look like him? Is he still alive?
Over the years this has happened at various times in my life. When you know something like this you can’t help but think about it sometimes. So far I have no desire to do anything about it, whether this will change as I get older and the realisation that if I ever wanted to meet him or find out if it was possible, time is not on my side, I don’t know.
It is hard to describe how I feel about it, there is a feeling of intense love and loyalty to my Dad, for everything he did for both my Mum and for me. The love and respect for my Mum who despite everything was determined to bring me in to this world, with or without him by our side (unusually for the time with my grandparents support), meant that I never felt lacking in anything, least of all a father.
There was nothing missing in my life. Nothing needed replacing. I had a happy, fulfilled childhood with two loving parents and my two hugely irritating Sisters, it was perfect. Well OK, not perfect, but right. Normal, if there is such a thing.
I have thought about it a lot this week but only because of the circumstances surrounding my birth certificate. It is not something I think about often but when I do it only reminds me of my Dad, the one who was by my side.