‘On paper, he technically doesn’t exist’: Parents have trouble getting vital records for newborn

CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte woman contacted Action 9 for help after trying for months to get a birth certificate for her newborn.

After giving birth to her son, Amber Jackson and her husband were undecided on a name for the baby.

“We were still deciding on the name,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “Sometimes, not everyone has a name. For me, I wanted to look at his face and give him a name that I felt suited him better.”

She says they finally settled on the name Ameer, but that the hospital had already submitted the paperwork for his birth certificate to the government.

There were 68 babies born in Mecklenburg County on that day. Sixty-seven had names listed on county records, but Ameer was just listed as “XXXX XXXX.”

“We have a name. It’s just like, on paper, he technically doesn’t exist,” Jackson said.

Not having a birth certificate makes it hard to get a social security card, passport, and added to her health insurance, among many other things.

Jackson called the North Carolina Office of Vital Records but says she couldn’t get a real person.

“I’m battling postpartum depression, trying to go on with my day-to-day life, and then make time for this every day, calling down to the state,” she said.

She tried for more than four months and then finally emailed Stoogenke for help. The subject line read: “A Mother’s Plea for Help!!!”

Stoogenke emailed the state agency and Jackson said a representative emailed her a little more than four hours later. The representative said he would send her a form to sign, notarize and return, and that the state would then update the records “immediately.” And it did.

“I am so thankful for you stepping in and helping in one day what took me 17 weeks,” Jackson emailed Stoogenke.

The North Carolina Office of Vital Records told Stoogenke, “Providing quality and timely services to North Carolina residents is the top priority for the NC Office of Vital Records.”

It explained that “A backlog of requests to the NC Office Vital Records did occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the Office has a number of vacant positions, they have taken numerous, positive steps to eliminate the backlog, including hiring and reassigning additional staff, working extended shifts, leveraging the assistance of county Registers of Deeds, and securing a new phone system. Additional call center staff have recently been hired in an effort to answer phone calls and provide more timely response to customer communications. More information is on the NC Vital Records page as well as estimated processing and shipping dates page. This page also has more information about the updates to expedited orders, appointments for walk-in service, and questions about certificate requests.”

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