I was born and adopted in Indiana. When I turned eighteen I considered myself an adult.
I could buy a pack of cigarettes.
I could vote for the President.
I could buy a gun.
When I turned twenty-one I could go to a bar.
I could order a drink.
I could get drunk.
But I was never allowed to inquire about my birth origins.
During my quest to find my birthmother the State of Indiana refused to release any records. After twenty years of patching information together I finally found my long lost brothers, sisters, and even an 83-year old grandmother. Unfortunately my birthmother had already died thirteen years earlier.
Armed with new information, I contacted the State Board to obtain my original birth certificate. The one I carried around my whole life was the amended one given to my adopted parents.
It said my mother’s name was Martha Watson.
My father’s name was Stoy Watson.
My name was Michael Crit Watson.
I had no purpose for my original birth certificate. I had always lived fine with the altered one but I had a right to the first one. I knew that little slip of paper was archived somewhere in a dark, musty file cabinet in an old Indiana building. I wondered what it said. I knew my birthmother’s name was Betty Price. No one knew who my father was. And I wondered what my birthmother named me.
As a final attempt I asked the State of Indiana to send me a copy of my birth certificate. If they could just see me I could prove I was a responsible adult. After all, I hung a flag in my yard on Independence Day and voted for all the past Presidents.
As I arranged the puzzle pieces of my life across the kitchen table I could smell whiskey on my breath. Blue-gray cigarette smoke floated motionlessly above a nasty ashtray. I had always refused, however, to fold a gun within my grip. I was now thirty-six years old and still asked, “Who am I?”
A calming rush washed over me as I remembered the love of my adoptive mother. I could hear her voice. ‘Your name is Michael. Follow your heart. You will receive anything you ask. You must never give up.’
The State of Indiana finally relinquished my birth certificate but with a condition- I would first have to send them my birthmothers death certificate to prove she was dead.
I agreed to their demands in 1994 and my original birth certificate came in the mail one week later. It said-
Mothers Name: Betty Gertrude Price.
Fathers Name: Unknown.
Child’s Name: Infant.