Mr. L’s Story

mr_l-callout.pngAs told by his case manager

“I met Mr. L on October 16, 2012 at the New Haven Green. He began to tell me how he went to the New Haven Vital Statistics Office several times and could not get his birth certificate. He also mentioned that when he was at Yale-New Haven Hospital he was told that he was in their system but under a different date of birth, one that was six years later than his original. He also stated that he was a Veteran. I asked him to sign two releases, one for the New Haven Vital Statistics Office and one for North Haven High School, which would later be the key to unraveling his identity. I called the New Haven Vital Statistics Office and was told that I would need to get more identifying information. Fortunately, I was able to get the information from him. However, when I called the New Haven Vital Statistics Office, I was told that his name, birth date, and his father’s name were incorrect.

I then contacted North Haven High School and was told I needed to contact student services because the file was in archives. I contacted student services and informed them that I needed the school records. A file was found for Mr. L but under a different first name and birth date, therefore, I could not get the file. I asked student services if they had the yearbooks from 1968, the year Mr. L believed he graduated. I was told that they were at the North Haven Library. In the meantime, I contacted Yale-New Haven Hospital to request his records and was told they had to be ordered; it should take two to three business days. I then received a phone call stating that the release needed to be specific, requesting medical records from birth to current and I submitted it as requested. I then received another phone call asking why I needed his records and their supervisor needed to approve the request. Once the records came in, I went to the medical records office to pick them up. A colleague at Cornell Scott Hill-Health Center had a search done by the VA's Errera Community Care Center for his veteran’s records but nothing was ever found. Mr. L and I went to the Library; we looked through the yearbooks to see if we could find his picture but were unsuccessful because he couldn’t remember what he looked like. We then went back to student services and spoke to a clerk who was able to give us his school records. We then found out that the he was a foster child. Mr. L had no memory of being a foster child.

I went to the Social Security Office to order Mr. L’s social security card. I was told that his birth date did not match the information in the system and I explained that Mr. L now knows who his parents are and his birth certificate is on file at the New Haven Vital Statistics Office. I also showed his school records. The clerk said that she will get a copy of his birth certificate, but we would need him to go to probate court to get documentation stating Mr. L was who he claimed to be. We went to probate and submitted an application to change his first name and we were given a court date. Mr. L and I went to court and I received the documentation verifying his identity. I went to the New Haven Vital Statistics Office and submitted the school records and the change of name documentation and was told by the supervisor that it was not a decree for a name change and Mr. L’s parents needed to be on the decree as well. She asked if I was an attorney. I told her no and she said that he needs one. I went back to probate court informed the clerk and judge of what happen and he gave me a decree of name change but stated that the parents name did not need to be there because Mr. L was not a minor. I went back to the New Haven Vital Statistics Office and gave the supervisor the decree and was told that I had to wait for approval from the Hartford Vital Statistics Office. The supervisor then informed us that she will not be able to give us the birth certificate and that probate court would have to subpoena his birth certificate. She told me not to go back to probate court but to call the Hartford Vital Statistics Office and we would get the instructions on how to get his birth certificate. She stated that she didn’t understand how I was getting the Judge to give me decrees so quickly and that should not have happened. I went back to probate court and informed the judge that we were still unable to get his birth certificate. The judge called the supervisor and informed her that he did not want to get a subpoena but if he needed to he would. She informed him of what she needed. He informed us that he was going to get his attorneys to work on the case.

Mr. L and I left and went to social security and ordered his social security card. I called the Hartford Vital Statistics Office and was told that I should not have received a probate court date and change of name decrees so quickly. I was given instructions on how to get his birth certificate. I asked if I submitted his Social Security card and a voter’s identification card as proof of identification would I then be able to get it. She told me that I wouldn’t be able to get his Social Security card because of his identity issues but I had already been approved for a copy of his social security card. She also stated that those methods of identification were outdated. I explained that the New Haven office was still using those methods. I called the probate court and informed the clerk of my conversation with the Hartford Vital Statistics Office. The clerk advised me not to contact either the Hartford or New Haven Vital Statistics Offices and she said once they hear from their lawyers they will inform me.

As we waited to hear from the probate lawyers, I called Representative Rosa DeLauro’s office and was told they would have to find out what they could do in such a case because they had never dealt with something like this. I called the Assistant Attorney General and he said that he represents the state but to inform the Judge to get a court order for the birth certificate and the Vital Statistics Office would comply. I called the Judge and let him know that Assistant Attorney General would give him a call.

As I waited for the Judge to contact me, I searched the property records of Mr. L’s foster parents home and discovered the home was still owned by the family. A colleague and I went to the home of the foster family and left a card for someone to contact us. When we didn’t hear anything, I sent the foster family a letter. I received a call from a foster family member and was told that Mr. L is indeed who he says he is and he was with their family from the age of 2 years until he was 14 years. The family member was willing to support Mr. L, and go with us to the New Haven Vital Statistics Office to affirm his identity claim but also stated that he was never in the army. The same day not even five minutes later, I received a call from the Judge of Probate Court, who informed me that I could come down and get the decree and bring it to the New Haven Vital Statistics Office. Mr. L was waiting to go to one of the churches in the Abraham’s Tent program when I told him the good news. We immediately went to probate court, received the decree and brought it to vital statistics where we purchased his birth certificate.”

Update – June 2013
Looking to share his story and journey to identity, Mr. L offered to be photographed while staying at Columbus House’s New Haven Shelter. He talked about his frustration and excitement surrounding getting housing. When asked what he would like the readers of his story to know, he replied “Just give me a chance.”

Update – August 2013
Mr. L received the keys to his new home, a 1-bedroom apartment in New Haven, exclaiming it was “a palace with white carpets!”