Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I was adopted in 1982 by my American parents — my uncle and his wife. His wife sent me back to Jamaica at age 14 to suffer, with no family or financial support. To make a very long story short, I need my birth certificate because I am living like an alien in my country. I lived in the United States for eight years and was sent back and I don't know what to do. I need my birth certificate — the adoption one — with the name I am now using. How can I get it so I can get a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN)? I have no documents at all.
It is very unfortunate that the people who adopted you in 1982 decided after you had spent eight years with them in the United States, to send you back to Jamaica without any arrangements for your welfare.
You have not stated whether your adoption was done in Jamaica or not, but I am assuming that this was so and that it was a legal adoption. Indeed, your birth records and consequently your birth certificate would have been altered to include your adopted parents' surname, which would legally be yours by reason of the adoption court order. The court order of your adoption would have been submitted to the Registrar General's Department (RGD) which has custody of all records of births.
Upon the making of the court order of your adoption, you became the lawful and actual child of this couple in every respect. The order extinguished all your biological parents' rights and obligations to and for you.
From what you have said, your adopted parents abandoned you to fend for yourself, because without making any arrangements for your care and protection, they sent you back to Jamaica. This was appalling and unlawful conduct by them for which legal action could have been taken, and for which they could have been penalised.
You have not stated the reason why they acted as they did, but they must have believed that they had cause, and that it was the only means open to them. This was, however, not the case and it was unlawful and in clear violation of your rights as a child.
They should have contacted the Social Services Department, which I seem to recall was the agency which dealt with the processing of adoption applications back t hen, and also the Adoption Board, and even the court which granted their order of adoption. In those days the court would have been the Resident Magistrate's Court for yours or their parish, or the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica. They should have reported their situation to all or either of them and informed them of the decision they had made to return you to Jamaica. They would have been assisted to execute their decision and perhaps ensure that they took the correct steps to have their Adoption Order vacated. The service, board or court personnel would then have been in the position to make provisions for your welfare and ensure that you had all your necessary documents for proof of your birth, existence and identity. This, however, did not happen.
Now, the responsible government agency for the welfare, protection, and for processing adoption applications is the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Therapeutic Centre (formerly the Child Development Agency).
One thing which puzzles me is that you have not mentioned that you had a passport when you travelled back to Jamaica. They would have had to send you with a passport, or with an emergency or temporary travel permit. You also have not said whether you were accompanied by an adult, who would have had custody of your documents, passport or travel permit, birth certificate, health records or card, school records, etc.
Anyway, you say you need your birth certificate and indeed you do in order to obtain a TRN. You have not stated whether you ever tried to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate from the RGD. You should try and do this first, and pay the fees for them to do a search and prepare a certified copy of your birth certificate for you. This is the only office which can produce a certified copy of a birth certificate to anyone, or for anyone who was born and whose birth was registered in Jamaica. If they do not have any record of your birth and of your adoption, then I suggest that you contact the CPFSA and request their assistance.
You are in this difficult position because of what happened to you while you were a minor child. Tell them that you need help, and relate your experience. Their address is 48 Duke Street, Kingston, and the numbers are 876-948-6678 or 948-2841-2. Please try to get in contact with them, or better still, try and go to the office.
I hope that you have all the necessary facts of your date of birth, and your adopted parents' names, etc, as well as the date of your adoption and the court which made the Order of Adoption and consequential orders for the entries to be made in your birth certificate. All these you will need to apply for the certified copy or copies at the RGD. If you do not, then the only other avenue you have is for the CPFSA to assist you to find your relevant records, because if you were adopted in Jamaica or your process was started in Jamaica, they could be able to trace your particulars. Frankly, if the RGD does not have your records, then the CPFSA is the only office I can suggest to you which may be able to assist you to obtain your birth certificate.
Finally, failing this, you can obtain the relevant advice and forms from the RGD about making an application for a late registration of your birth to the Registrar General. They would inform and assist you with this, and tell you the persons who may be your two supporting witnesses who can depone to statutory declarations, in support of your own, about the place, time, etc, of your birth. You can, with these facts and supporting witnesses, make an application to the Family Court of your parish for a declaration that you were born of your biological parent(s); the place and date; and that you were adopted, and for an order that the RGD enter such records and issue a certified birth certificate to you.
Please act on my suggestions as soon as possible in order to ensure that you obtain your identification documents and thereby enhance the possibilities of advancement in your life.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.