My son doesn’t have a birth certificate..
He was born in Japan, so he has a “Consular Report of Birth” instead. When he was born, the nurse at the military hospital told me “If you ever lose it, you have to request a replacement from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.” I once lost my own birth certificate, and remember what a hassle it was just getting a replacement from Frankfort, Kentucky. So needless to say, my son’s birth report is one piece of paper I have zealously kept track of over the years.
He also has an awesome bald-headed baby passport from this era of his life. Which I am saving till he manages to snag a girlfriend, for our first “show and tell.” [Insert evil mom laugh here.]
I was reading a magazine on a flight recently, and saw an advertisement for a program at the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Program. It mentioned that in the Sudan, lack of proper birth registrations contributes to child trafficking and enslavement. A child without a birth certificate doesn’t officially “exist”–making it difficult to take legal action to protect his or her rights.
A simple thing that most Americans take for granted, like a birth certificate, can help protect the safety and freedom of children in places where a paper trail can be a lifeline.
In a week where I have heard a great deal of complaint and cynicism, this little tale is a glimmer that even “government, bureaucracy, and useless paperwork” can be transformed into something redemptive and lifesaving. It was a welcome bit of optimism, bobbing it’s way to me across the waves.
What about you? What stories have made you smile this week?