My dad didn’t have birth certificate. He was born on the farm and the only doctor around for miles and miles was a veterinarian. The vet had no clue that he had to file such info, you didn’t file when a horse gave birth!
So my dad went for a passport and there was no record of him. What? Wasn’t a social security number enough? Nope. And how did he get a SS # without a birth certificate? Back in those days, social security was a new thing, and they just gave it to him. So my dad took off for some state government office with his mom who swore up and down that she gave birth to him. Didn’t work. He had to find people who knew him and his mom and would certify that they knew both. Yikes! His mom was an old lady. That meant finding someone older who knew she gave birth to him. The local bank president was quite old and he produced the paperwork that he knew the family and knew she’d given birth to my dad. He also swore that he didn’t know another living soul in the area who would still be alive and went back that far who wasn’t family. Vital records took it. They issued the passport and created a birth certificate.
Today, most people are born in the hospital, and the hospital sends the information to vital records. It’s all part of that paperwork that women fill out when they have a baby. But don’t go back to the hospital and expect they will have a birth certificate. Many hospitals will issue a certificate of live birth. And unless you are the listed father of that child, you will not be able to obtain any information on that child, and that child must be under the age of eighteen. Once the child has passed the magical eighteenth birthday, no one but that child has access to those records.
My husband’s grandfather was an immigrant from Russia. He came into this country as Makary Baran. But his heavy accent and the importance to be a real American, people often mistook what he said and his name evolved into Michael Brown. Try saying Bah-rahn and Bah-rown real fast one after the other and you’ll see how the switch could be made. But how Makary became Michael – I have no clue. We do know that he entered the Army in WWI as Michael Brown. He probably just decided he’d be Michael because Michael was a fine American name. But nothing formal was ever done to change the name so I guess my husband should have been Baran instead of Brown.
The city recently hassled me over something and then tried to ignore me because George was listed first on the deed. I was so hot after a few go-arounds with letters, etc, that I grabbed a lousy hard-to-read copy of his death certificate and the box that once contained his ashes because the ashes have a tag in them (which I kept) and the box has a certificate plastered on the bottom of it with a number that matches the tag. I figured if they gave me any trouble, I’d reach in my tote and plop that box on the counter and say, “Here, talk to George!”
Fortunately for them they took care of the situation without any problem and I didn’t have to present George, which took the fun out of that visit. I wanted to see someone pass out. (George is in the mountains. It’s a very empty box! But they wouldn’t know that.)
Laws keep changing, and we’re making it much more difficult for people to obtain information. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. When my husband died, I was trying to straighten out the billing for his hospital stay. They weren’t billing the right insurance company. They wouldn’t talk to me because I wasn’t George! Talk about frustrating. What part of deceased do they not understand? It’s in red in the upper right hand corner of their computer screen! I am the next of kin.
The fight started about six months after my husband’s death. One month, I’d talk to someone in billing, and the next month, it was a different person. They continued to attempt to bill the wrong company and then wanted him to pay the complete bill. They were threatened his credit. You know, I don’t think he cares anymore. It doesn’t matter if you ruin his credit – he’s dead.
After another few months passed, I wound up working for that health care system as a sub contractor. I used that intranet to write to the director of the hospital where he died. Fortunately, I had an extremely nice response from the director which included his apology and sympathies, and the situation was settled. It took more than a year of fighting. Maybe I should have taken George to the billing office.