For most people, when you need a copy of your birth certificate you go to your parents who have one stored safely away in a file or baby book. Parents may tearfully hand it over because you are growing up and need to use it. You will eventually need one to gain identification or apply for some school, program, or job.
When you have neglectful, abusive, addicted, or otherwise non-functioning parents, that is usually not the case. For myself and many of the others I have met who have spent time in foster care or otherwise raising themselves, needing a birth certificate or social security card can be a barrier that is insurmountable unless help is found. I hope to write this and help someone else manage that hurdle easier than I did.
Step one: Find as much information about your birth as you can: Parent’s full names, date, and city of birth are a must. If you do not have this information, find any files or paperwork you have about yourself (Medical bills, foster care files, dental records). Look in unusual places for clues and ask anyone you come into official contact with. Someone will have the information on file.
Step two: Find the vital records office for the county you were born in. Usually, a search for “Vital records” on a mapping program will show the ones nearest you and can be set to any location. Your town office may have the information if you can’t find it.
Step three: Once you know where you were born, you can usually order a copy on the phone, online, or in person. If cash is your only means of paying for a copy (they usually run between $6-20), then it will have to be in-person. Anyone’s credit card will work (if you have permission) so if going in-person is not an option then you can ask someone you know to use their card and give them the cash directly.
Step four: Keep it safe. Plan ahead to have a safe folder, binder, or box to keep important papers in. If you order online it will come in the mail, and if you go in they will give you a copy. Either way, you will need to keep it safe so that you don’t have to pay for another copy. Don’t plan on keeping it in your purse or wallet. It’s too easy to lose.
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