Since the very beginning of this controversy, there have been calls for Trig Palin's birth certificate as something that would settle the matter. I have never joined this clamor, because I have known all along that it would not be conclusive. However, there is a curious irony here which has occurred to me only recently: while releasing the birth certificate would potentially prove nothing, NOT releasing it may be telling us a great deal.
What leads to this seemingly illogical statement? In short, how birth certificates are handled in the face of an adoption. I have researched this with the help of an associate who has interviewed an Alaskan attorney who handles adoptions. The path to adoption - and the paperwork involved - is as follows. This outlines what would happen in the case of a closed, private adoption, with the parents and birth mother knowing each other prior to the birth, and making some of the arrangements before the baby is born.
1. A baby is born. An attendant at the birth (can be any facility staff person, not necessarily the doctor) files a “Report of Live Birth.” The birth mom fills out the form with her name and the name of the father. Other info includes the name of the facility and the name of the doctor, if there is one. This document is confidential. In the case of a subsequent adoption, only parties to the adoption ever see this, like the parents (birth and adoptive) and their attorneys. This report is saved for 100 years but it is impossible to get because it is confidential. The adoptive parents would take the baby home from the hospital.
2. There is a hearing within a week or two. This proceeding is confidential.
3. A decree of adoption is issued. Once again, this is a confidential document.
4. A birth certificate with the child’s new name and adoptive parents’ names is issued by the state. You cannot tell by looking at that birth certificate that the child has been adopted so even if it is released, it would be of little value. The birth certificate contains ONLY the following information: the child's (new) name, the adoptive parents' names, the date, and place (city and state) of his birth. Here's an example of an "heirloom" birth certificate you can order for an Alaska birth. It's more decorative than a regular one, but contains all the same info.
Different people born at different times in different places may have other information on their birth certificates. When I was born (long long ago and far far away) the state in which I was born seems to have combined the "birth certificate" and the "report of live birth." My birth certificate contains not only my parents' names, my name, time, place, and date, of course, but the hospital of my birth, my parents' marital status, the number of my mother's previous pregnancies, and the attending doctor's signature as well.
Since the beginning of my investigation into this I have assumed that, if Trig is not Sarah and Todd Palin's biological child, by the time of the campaign, he would have already been long since legally adopted. Therefore, releasing his birth certificate would prove nothing, since it would list his adoptive parents' name, his name, the date, and place of his birth. It would be tell us nothing.
But then I started thinking about this recently. OK, maybe that's true, but then.... why NOT release it? It might not be proof positive for those of us who understand the adoption procedure, but it would have still given the Palins political points. "Look, [eyes rolling] we released the damn birth certificate. They asked for it..." [and many did] "... and we gave it to them. What more can these loonies want?" And those who might have tried to explain about the nuance of adoption law would, at least to many, appear as if they were again splitting hairs. I'll say it again... the Palins could have gotten a fair amount of mileage out of releasing it.
But they didn't. After numerous calls from multiple sources for many months, they still have not. Why not, when they should have had nothing to lose, and potentially at least something to gain? When the document should contain nothing but the names of Sarah and Todd Palin, and the information that Trig was born on April 18th, 2008 in Palmer, Alaska?
Well, here's one answer. Here's why my original statement was that, while releasing it would not have proved anything conclusively, NOT releasing it may be telling us a lot.
What changes when the child is adopted, from the "Report of Live Birth," to the "Birth Certificate?" The baby's name and the parents' names. That's all. What does not change, CANNOT change? The date and place of the birth.
If the child that we now know as Trig Paxson Van Palin was NOT born in Palmer Alaska on April 18th, 2008, his birth certificate would show us that, no matter who the parents are. Could this be the reason no birth certificate has ever been released? Not because they won't, but because they can't?
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