Friday, December 5, 2014

What's in a Name?

Me, newborn

I've had to write this so many times that I think it's time I just make a blog post about it. I wasn't born with my current name. Well, I'm a married woman in the US, so there's a good chance that's true, but I mean my whole name.

My mom was asleep after giving birth when I was named by the other person on my birth certificate. I know people who think my name was cute, but honestly, I think if you give your child a name that means 'tumultuous' or has otherwise negative connotations, you're a jerk. Just for the record. I don't mean an unusual name (I love unusual names), but a name that most people identify as a negative trait.

No, I'm not telling you what it was, sorry. Part of the reason it was changed was to protect me, and honestly, the name triggers memories of verbal/emotional abuse. I was mocked by my friends' parents, my teachers, everyone. They thought it was so funny to talk about what a problem child I must be -- because of my name. Something that was thrust upon me within hours of coming into the world. They didn't care one bit that it hurt my feelings or gave me a label to aspire to (after all, if I'm already judged as 'bad'...).

So, when I was seven and that other name on my birth certificate was driven out of the country because he was a disgusting -- let's just stop there -- my name was changed to protect me, as he'd supplied my surname as well and neglected to fill in the middle name field.

So I got a shiny new name via common usage. This was no problem until the Patriot Act went through and the DMV only began accepting court ordered name changes. Suddenly, even though everything except my birth certificate used my legal name, the DMV would not issue me a new ID because I accidentally let my last one expire.

My birth certificate was never changed because that's expensive. So is the whole court order process. My mom couldn't afford it, and really, neither can I. However, last year, my husband did ask his work-provided lawyer to start the process for all of that with our tax refund... Never happened. That's a whole different rant.

As a result, I don't have an ID. I can't travel, except in a car, I can't withdraw from my bank account except through the ATM (nor open a new account). I can't purchase alcohol if I get carded (I'm 34 and get carded 90% of the time). I can't go to a club where alcohol is served.

Further, when my middle child was three, she got into my carefully guarded and supposedly out of reach and difficult to open drawer containing all my important paperwork. She lost my birth certificate (which was the original, tucked into the one issued by the hospital), my SS card and the only 'official' paperwork I had that proved my name change (a notarized paper from the school district). 

I need a valid ID or a birth certificate to walk into the social security building to request a new card. I don't want to order a new birth certificate until it matches my legal name. That's going to cost over $300 (assuming no lawyer fees) and require me to to do something I'm psychologically incapable of doing -- speak to a judge (I have selective mutism, and thanks to trauma caused by a psycho judge during my disability hearing, judges are on the list of people that render me unable to speak... unlike Raj, alcohol doesn't fix anything for me) to 'argue' why I should be legally named the name I legally adopted when I was seven.

Eventually, I hope this all gets sorted out (it should have been this year -- thanks Lawyer Fail), but in the meantime, I'm kinda screwed, and there's not really anything I can do about it. I can't prove I am who I have been since I got married 10 years ago because I can't prove I was who I was for the 17 years that preceded my marriage. And that name on my birth certificate? That person hasn't existed since 1987.

So there's the whole, annoying story about why I don't have an ID and can't just go get a new one.

Oh, and if I'd gotten a passport back when my ID was valid, none of this would be an issue, because an expired passport is still acceptable ID for the DMV. Just not an expired ID. Or the 3 that I had on my person from the days before they stole and destroyed your old one as they gave you the new. Moral of the story? Get a freaking passport.

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