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I May, In Fact, Be Alive

I was born a very young person with a short attention span. I paid no attention to formalities like keeping records or filling out forms. It never occurred to me to keep track of the hospital staff involved in my delivery, or even the time of my birth. That inattention to detail was the start of my problem, lo these many years later.

This happened in New Jersey too. I had nothing to do with it. (public domain, wikimedia)

You see, I would like to get a passport. Once I get that document, I’ll be able to vacation outside the United States. Todd Snider wrote that “a man hasn’t technically flown until he lands”. In the spirit of Mr. Snider’s thought, I will also use my passport to return to the United States.

Nations are pretty particular about knowing who wanders over their borders. My home country is no exception. If they’re going to watch me go and then give me a pass to just stroll back in when I’m good and ready, they want to confirm that I am who I claim I am. So, one of the things they’ve asked to see in the process of giving me a key to the front door of the country is my birth certificate.

Since I was young and did not have pockets when I earned my birth certificate I do not have a copy of it at hand. That vital record is in the hands of the State of New Jersey…I think.

Dear New Jersey, May I Please Have My Birth Certificate?

A month ago, I filled out a form online, requesting that The Garden State send a copy of my birth certificate. I still don’t have it.

I’m amazed that obtaining a birth certificate can take so long in this modern age. The time between applying for and getting proof that I was born has given me time to wonder about some things.

I wonder if the delay is political in nature. While it is completely ridiculous to think that the Governor of New Jersey would ever have a hand in punishing someone for offending him, I wonder if people around him might have put the kibosh on my birth certificate for some perceived slight toward Governor Chris Christie. Maybe I’ve said the wrong thing. It wouldn’t be a big leap to assume that the record of my birth is still in limbo because of something I’ve said. In fact, I’d say it would be a short leap; a distance that would be easily bridged.

My birth certificate. Apparently there were lions involved in the procedure (public domain wikimedia)

Perhaps my parents haven’t been completely truthful about the facts surrounding my birth. Maybe I wasn’t born in New Jersey at all. What if I am Korean? My mother and father aren’t Korean, so maybe I was adopted. I don’t have a problem with being adopted. If I am, I’m grateful to them for the love and support they gave me as I grew up in their home.

I’m grateful, but I’m a little miffed that Mom and Dad did nothing to teach me about my culture.

Is the delay in getting my birth certificate due to the way New Jersey keeps records? When I ordered my birth certificate over the internet I imagined a streamlined electronic system that would locate and reproduce the document from a digital scan of the ancient papyrus original.

Now I’ve come to believe that New Jersey stores vital records in a vast warehouse, staffed by an elderly clerk who wears a green visor. His arthritic knees ache as he totters up and down the aisles of file cabinets. His breath rattles in his rib cage, lungs obstructed by inhaling the dust that gets kicked up when he opens the drawers containing the birth records of the baby boom.

But Wait, There’s Hope!

After I was delivered, some of the hospital staff posed for a drawing. (public domain wikimedia)

Or perhaps I simply do not exist.

That would have been a reasonable thought, since the record of my earliest existence has proven so difficult to find. But two days ago I got an email saying that the request for my birth certificate had been updated to “pending”. I pondered that, wondering exactly what that status meant and how long my existence would pend before it could be confirmed.

And today’s email brought even better news. My order has been “Completed”. After an entire month, I may be getting my birth record. Now that the month-long search for that record is over, could it be long before I get confirmation (with a raised seal end everything) that I came into existence fifty-two years ago in New Jersey, one of the United States that I would like to travel from and return to?

Maybe I’m not even Korean. That’d serve my parents right – spending all that money to adopt me and bring me over…and I was here the whole time!

And the best part is that if the old man with the green visor found my birth papyrus it confirms that I was alive. But since I didn’t have him check for a death certificate, no one has seen any record of my passing.

I may, in fact, be alive.

Thank you New Jersey.

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15 Comments on “I May, In Fact, Be Alive”

  1. motherhendiaries says:

    Hahaha! Good to know your search may be nearing its end…international travel is definitely worth all the trouble! Planning on visiting Korea? 🙂

    • omawarisan says:

      I think I might have to head for the motherland…or fatherland. I wonder how they determine the gender of a land? See what you’ve done?

      Strangely enough, my son got me in to Korean food. He respects his heritage.

  2. Linda Sand says:

    I was born at the US Navy Base in Cuba. I had to send to the US Secretary of State to get my birth certificate. The attached certificate of authenticity was signed by Dean Rusk and I got a red ribbon with my raised seal. My certificate says says I am child born abroad of US parents. Maybe I’m Korean? More likely I am Cuban? Was I babynapped?

    • omawarisan says:

      Wow, that must’ve taken some doing. Do you keep that certificate in a safe?

      My folks have a letter signed by J. Edgar Hoover from when I was born, or brought in from Korea.

      If you’re Cuban, can I come over for dinner?

  3. Wouldn’t it be groovy if it turns out you’re Bruce Springsteen?

    • omawarisan says:

      That would be a good thing. I wonder if there is additional processing time involved in certifying myself as Bruce? It might be worth the wait; he can afford to travel.

      I’m in favor of the grooviness of the idea.

  4. Steph says:

    I have 3 kids and only one of them came with an accurate birth certificate. Cabbage Patch really misled me about the simplicity of proving your origins. I’ve given up trying to get the mistakes fixed. My kids will just have to deal with that BS when they want to get a passport. Glad you might not be dead!

    • omawarisan says:

      Kinda nice to be reinforced in the belief that I exist.

      Ha ha….cabbage patch.

      That’s crazy. I imagine there’s not an easy way to correct that sort of a mistake.

  5. Eva says:

    YES. Perhaps remotely related to ‘The Boss’?

  6. Betty says:

    Bureaucracy at its best!

  7. sassygal092 says:

    In my home country (India), it is not very unusual to have a death certificate issued before a birth certificate is!

  8. I have to deal with New Jersey’s bureaucracy fairly often, and it’s seldom a quick, simple or inexpensive. On the bright side, everyone has heard of our governor…oh wait, maybe that’s not such a good thing.

  9. It amazes me that your birth certificate didn’t have to be produced when you joined the police force.
    Birth certificates can be complicated. You never know what you are going to get. When I was 15 I had to get mine to apply for a passport. When it came I found out I had been using the wrong last name all my life, my birthdate changed by one day, and my name was spelled differently. I live a very confusing life.

  10. spencercourt says:

    Your transgression was leaving the Great Garden State. Preference for birth certificates is to those who are residents. Emigrants are last since you aren’t paying those civil servants’ salaries.

    You can imagine my issue: I was born outside the country. Fortunately, I’ve had an active U.S.
    passport since I was an infant. Not too many folks have had a passport over 60 years. And, I have my Philippine birth certificate; brought it with me to the U.S. in 1970 and carted it everywhere I moved to since then. Right now, it’s in a safe deposit box at my credit union.

    Where are you going? Hopefully not just a stroll over to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. I suggest Spain! Can’t beat those 2-3 hour lunches when all stores are closed so you can’t be shopping.


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