Yesterday, we received five copies of Millie's new, and now official, birth certificate. We have had Millie's original birth certificate for some time now, but we needed to wait until the adoption was finalized in order to get the new one.
We expected to be over-the-moon excited with the arrival of the new birth certificates. We expected it to feel final and exciting and all things good. And so when we saw the envelope yesterday, we eagerly tore into it. We took out the birth certificate and, as a family, we took a look.
And it didn't feel all good.
It was wonderful to see our names and Millie's current full name all together on such an official document.
It was wonderful to see ourselves recognized as co-parents (though my name was still written in the box that said father/co-parent, which only made us both chuckle).
It was wonderful to have official documentation of the legal standing of Millie as our child.
But in all of our excitement in thinking about what would be on the new birth certificate, we didn't think about what wouldn't be there anymore. Millie's birth parents' names are now nowhere on her birth certificate. The name that Millie was first given is now nowhere on her birth certificate. And Carla and I both agreed that these facts made us a little bit sad.
Since we brought Millie home, we have had no desire to pretend that we are her birth parents. We have had no desire to pretend that she only has one set of parents. We have had no desire to pretend that she didn't have a history and a story before she came into our lives. And now the birth certificate seems so devoid of all of those things. For Millie's sake, it makes us sad.
I guess I just don't understand why it had to be this way. I would have loved to have had her original birth certificate remain official and then be issued a second certificate, but this one a certificate of adoption. It would still list us as her parents for all legal, and for so many other, purposes. But, it wouldn't attempt to erase her first family or her start in this world. If I was in charge of this world, which I so badly wish I was, that is how things would be. Because then, a child would never have to feel as if part of his or her history and life were being erased. A child would never have to feel as if his or her adoption meant the negation of his or her birth and first family.
So though we expected to feel only joy, we were actually met with a mixture of emotion. And that seems to be the hallmark of this whole adoption journey. In our extreme happiness, there will always be her first family's sadness. And in the happiness that her first family feels in seeing how happy Millie is, there will always be the sadness that they feel in not being able to be there through every single step of her life. I guess what we are starting to learn is that there will always be room for both. We will always try our best to acknowledge both so that Millie grows up understanding that it is okay for her to acknowledge both as well. We will never ask her to choose happiness or sadness about her adoption. We want her to know that there is always room for both and feeling one doesn't negate the other.
I just wish that we could have incorporated that idea into her birth certificate as well.