EDITORIAL

Getting real can be tough if you don’t have a birth certificate

Posted 8/31/22

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At least that’s what my parents told me. But how do I prove it?

Proving I was born seems ridiculous. After all, I’m here isn’t that proof? But …

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EDITORIAL

Getting real can be tough if you don’t have a birth certificate

Posted

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At least that’s what my parents told me. But how do I prove it?

Proving I was born seems ridiculous. After all, I’m here isn’t that proof? But that’s not the way the DMV sees it if you are applying for a “Real ID” license.

After panicking earlier this summer when I feared I couldn’t board a flight to my granddaughter’s graduation in Jackson, WY, because my passport had expired and I didn’t have a Real ID, I decided it was time to get real. Fortunately, the requirement of a Real ID or passport had been suspended and my regular (non-real) drivers license got me through airport security.

So, even before receiving notification that my license would expire this month, I started the process of determining what I needed to get a Real ID. Like so many things it’s not difficult if you have all the pieces. I went through the list, quickly gathering evidence of my residency – copies of tax and utility bills served that purpose – and proof that although a carpetbagger from Connecticut in 1968, I’m a Rhode Islander.

But could I prove I was born? Apparently, that was going to be impossible even though I had my Social Security card, I collect Social Security and I’ve never not paid taxes. It seems to me that should be proof enough that I exist.

No, I needed a birth certificate.

So, I did what we do today – turned to the internet for answers. Amazon wasn’t going to be of help at this point even though I don’t doubt that some day you’ll be able to order an Amazon birth certificate and get it delivered by drone. Instead, I headed for the City of Cleveland website and the department of vital records.

The website made it look easy. I printed off a form, filled it out and dropped it in the mail with a check for $25. That was in late June. I figured that would give me plenty of time to collect what I needed to get my Real ID license before my regular license expired.

Nothing came for weeks. Then in July I received a large manila envelope with my name and address carefully handwritten and no return address. It was a letter from the Cleveland Bureau of Vital Statistics.  They had had an issue processing my request – there was no explanation of what that might be – but in order to give me a birth certificate, I would need to sign the enclosed affidavit that I was me and have it notarized.

Now this struck me as ironic. I needed to have a notoriety to witness my signature although it is possible they didn’t know me. I didn’t waste time; the affidavit went into the mail the next day.

Then came the wait. After three weeks, I called vital statistics. I got a recording and waited and waited for a real person. I gave up after a half hour. I tried again the following morning and to my amazement got someone.

He asked for my name and then my birthday.

“That’s my birthday,” he said. I retorted that he didn’t sound to be that old. We both laughed. But now there was a connection.

“Let me see what I can find out,” he said placing me on hold. I feared I would lose him, but he was back in less than a minute. I suppose I should be grateful that Cleveland wasn’t so willing to hand out my identity. How would they know me from somebody trying to steal my identity?

“It’s in the mail, you should get it any day,” came the reply.

I thanked him and wished him an early happy birthday.

He returned the wish.

Now, shouldn’t that be enough to prove I’m here?

This Side up, editorial

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  • mthompsondc

    John -- Did it ever arrive?

    Saturday, September 3 Report this