Any fudge factor with adoption birth certificates (1960 and earlier)?

My wife was adopted, and thru a DNA match has found the identity of her biological *father. Her birth certificate shows her place of birth as the city where she was adopted, and her adoptive parents as her parents.

Her adoptive parents had always said that the adoption agency told them that her biological parents were college students. In the case of her biodad, unless he had skipped a grade in school (entirely possible), when she was born, he had just graduated HS.

Biodad’s family lives in another city 100 miles away from the purported place of birth. At this time, we don’t know where Biomom’s family were located.

I find it unlikely that they would have traveled 100 miles from one big (by southern standards) city to another to have the baby delivered. So either she truly was living in the adoption city, or they just put that as the place of birth.

I’ve known quite a few teen mothers over the years, and only in very rare cases was the Biodad younger than the expectant mother. If this turns out to be the case here, she would have been a HS senior or younger.

Given the suspect information that the adoption agency gave on the bio-parents being ‘college students,’ I’m now skeptical of the place of birth—but that’s a recorded legal document, not just something the agency was telling.

So, the GQ: Legally (at least back in the old days), did the birth certificate have to show the actual place of birth, or did they have leeway to list the place of adoption as the place of birth?

*Mother still undetermined, but closing in.

It’s entirely possible that mom was “sent to live with an aunt” when she began showing. that was quite common decades ago too. Or biodad’s family moved around the time of the birth, possibly to escape an angry father of the non-bride. (I knew one family where the teenaged father left town. It didn’t help that when he was working his weekend job pumping gas, the girlfriend’s father parked across the street and just glowered at him for hours at a time. Of course, some young men don’t need added incentive to disappear when junior is announced to be on the way.)

Or they had met during vacation; doesn’t have to be summer, could be any other kind of family trip.

I just encountered a similar situation in real life: A woman had just gotten in touch with her long-lost son, who found her from a DNA match. The son had been told that his mother was a college student who voluntarily gave him up, but she was actually 16, and was forced against her will to put him up for adoption.

So apparently, adoption agencies lying about the birth parents is a thing that really did happen in the 1960s.

We can concoct a myriad of reasons why X was in city Y. Also, the conception, as I understand, happens 9 months before that. (What month was the birth?) The couple could have procreated in HS and the result only appears in early college. And so on… Being in HS, it’s possible for two students to be in the same class, with all the familiarity that implies, and almost a year’s difference in age. If a couple is in the same class, I doubt 6 to 9 months difference in age will matter as much.

Is there a college in the “birth” city? If they are decent sized, I assume so.

Keep in mind, at the time the adoption agency was telling these things, (parents location, college students), these files were very tightly sealed. There was no sign that that could change, they were pretty confident they wouldn’t get caught out, whatever they said.

I surrendered a child to adoption, and have since reunited. They told her parents lies about my circumstances. And they told me lies about her parent’s professions. I’m unsure if it was to be somehow reassuring or to confuse if anyone went looking. They did not change the location of birth, but I don’t see much standing in the way of them doing so at the time, if they decided to.

‘College students’ sounds like a common refrain in adoptions. No need to change the birth location, she probably had gone out of town while pregnant to avoid family embarrassment.

Different cities/states may do it differently - but in my city/state, the procedure (both now and in the 60s ) is that the original birth certificate is amended to list the adoptive parents’ names and the child’s new name. There is no doubt a record somewhere with a court order amending the birth certificate - but my husband has copies of his pre and post adoption birth certificates*. Everything but the names is the same - including the certificate number

*Which is actually how we confirmed that my husband was the person bio-brother was looking for- you can fake a lot, but it would be really difficult for a fraudster to not only know that my husband was adopted, and the details of his birth (date, time etc) but also the certificate number - it’s not like 10 babies a year are born in NYC.

Some additional info:

If the DOB is correct, she would have been conceived in October.

Biodad’s family is firmly rooted in the their home city, with a successful business going back to the mid 1950s.

Cousins located on the biomom’s family all appear to be from west of the Mississippi, with absolutely no connection to the southeast.

So, I suspect that biomom’s dad might have been in service, or with a government agency that led him to a job in that area. With that, both biodad’s family’s home town, the recorded place of birth, and one town in between are possible locations where biomom’s family might have been living.

Another suspicion: Biomom, possibly being a serviceman’s child, thought that biodad’s affluent family would be a ticket to an easier life. Biodad probably wasn’t looking for the responsibility of being a father, and even if her were–given the times, I’m guessing his dad would have put the kibosh on his #1 son getting hitched with someone from the wrong side of the tracks.

Side note on the biodad’s family: I’ve found lots of information on his three siblings, but biodad himself. . . Nada! Other than his name and where he is/was living. He might have been the black sheep of the family, as one of his much younger siblings ended up taking over the family business, but he has led an extraordinarily quiet life.

I wonder if adoption agencies found that prospective parents balked at taking kids who didn’t have stellar backgrounds: “College kids who got in trouble” sounds like the kids came from a “good family”–an idea I think carried a lot more weight in the 60s than today. “Got pregnant in high school” was a lot more morally reprehensible.

Jean Webster’s Dear Enemy is a novel set in an orphanage around the turn of the century, and there she talks about how no one would adopt children unless they had a wedding certificate from the parents and a respectable cause of death.

Don’t pay too much attention to that. The overwhelming majority of my very large extended family lives close to NYC. But there’s the odd cousin who lives in Salt Lake City and one who lived in Japan ( her husband worked for IBM) and my cousins who lived in Iceland and the ones who live in Florida and Kansas now but didn’t grow up there … If any of them took a DNA test, they’d match mostly with people in the NY/PA/CT area. There’s only a small chance that they would match with each other - that would first require that Kansas cousin and Iceland cousin both take the test and that they have enough DNA to consider them a match

Also there are two separate items - misrepresent(?) parents as college not high school, and did they fudge the birth location? I suspect the former is entirely possible, I suspect the latter much less so. I have not heard of the birth certificate being altered in that manner.

Just out curiosity, what does an adoption birth certificate say - I assume it says something like “parents - redacted”? I assume it does not lie and say the adoptive parents are the biological parents? Plus the other questions would be how soon was the baby delivered? I assume most adoptions in those days it was not necessary to go to another city several hours drive away with a brand new newborn to find a willing couple, so very likely the birth happened in the same city as the adoptive parents lived.

It’s still done. I know a lot of adoptive parents, these stories are common. It’s either a glowing picture of young well meaning bio parents who made a mistake and are acting responsibly by putting the child up for adoption, or it’s a horror story. Clearly the horror stories are a tougher sell, and luckily there are wonderful people who don’t shy away from that and most of those kids find a home eventually.

In all the cases I know of, yes it does lie, if you consider making no distinction between bio and adoptive parents is lying. Basically, “it was a live birth, it happened here, these are the parents.” Not a lie, once they’ve adopted the child, they ARE the parents.

Also, it is not particularly likely that the birth parents and the adoptive parents lived in the same city. Remember that until recently the whole thing was almost always shrouded in secrecy. If you were in the same town, too many people might put things together.

Not sure, but I believe in some states you can get a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents name on it that looks no different from the rest of the certificates.

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Not sure, but I believe in some states you can get a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents name on it that looks no different from the rest of the certificates. The bio father can be unknown, although many times the mother is pressured into naming someone. It’s tough to deal with sometimes, bio or adoptive parents may not want all the details revealed, but the bio parents and adopted children should have some way of finding out their genetic history if necessary, and of course most adoptive children have a desire to find out who their bio parents are. Many may never find out or be bothered by not knowing but some can go to the opposite end and become obsessed by it.

And you are right, it’s not a lie to list a child’s real parents on the birth certificate, real parents are the ones who love and raise a child, not the DNA donors.

This is the default in every state I know about; in many states, an adoptee does not even have the right to see the original birth certificate, or must go to court and convince a judge they have good and sufficient reasons.

Depending on state laws and practices, other information might be different too: some states would change the place of birth to the residence of the adoptive parents, for example, and there are even examples of the birthdate being changed. In the era when twins were commonly separated, a twin certificate could be changed to indicate a singleton birth; while I’ve never seen the reverse, I would not bet money that it didn’t happen at some point.

Sounds a bit like we do with the stories used to find forever homes for homeless animals. Sometimes a lot of ‘creativity’ involved in writing those. Not really outright deception, since it’s obvious: can anyone actually tell that ‘this elderly cat is looking for a calm, quiet forever home where he can live out his remaining years in peace & comfort’?

“60 Minutes” or some similar program did a story about this kind of thing a while back. In this case, the adoptive parents were told the “college students from good families” line, when in fact the mother was in a state facility, for either mental illness or retardation, and the father was usually unknown (most likely, she was raped by an employee) or if he was known, he was a fellow patient. The APs became suspicious when the children hit their teen years and started showing signs of severe mental illness.

Granted, my personal experience is “not very many”, but the people I know nowadays who adopted still-young kids know that whatever their kids’ background was, it WAS horrible because they adopted the children out of an orphanage or foster care. It’s also obvious, with one exception, that the children are adopted because they are not the same race as their adoptive parents.

I used to work at the grocery store pharmacy with a woman who was adopted at birth in 1980, and we’re now on Facebook. She always knew she was adopted, but never really thought about it until she went to work there, and she once told me, “Now that I work here, I’m really glad that my mother gave me up, because I see all these women with these fatherless kids and I know that if she had kept me, that is probably what my life would have been like.” They have contacted; she has not yet met her birthmother, who still says she isn’t ready to do it, but has met her half-sister. She does have information about her father, but AFAIK has not contacted him. It’s also possible that she did and found out that he was deceased or she had other reasons for not discussing this further.