True identity: Bobby’s story
Legal identification opened doors to more than housing for Bobby, a DRC client once stranded on the streets.
In a marathon, three-year hunt for birth records that ended in the Oklahoma governor’s office, DRC Critical Documents Specialist Denise Yeager gave Bobby an identity, a heritage and a family he had never known.
It might never have happened without your help.
Bobby’s troubles started with an expired driver’s license. Because his license had expired more than two years earlier, he would have to verify U.S. citizenship to renew it. That required his original birth certificate, which was locked behind the legal roadblock of Bobby’s sealed adoption as a toddler.
Living without a driver’s license was the least of his worries. Without proof of citizenship, Bobby couldn’t get work. Without legal I.D., he couldn’t lease an apartment. He couldn’t even marry his common-law wife.
“Without I.D., you’re in quicksand,” Denise said. “You can’t move without it.”
So Bobby and the woman he loved were stuck, reduced to sleeping in a tent because even some emergency shelters require legal identification and others would have separated the couple.
It seemed hopeless, and it might have been if not for DRC solutions made possible by your gifts. So many agencies had tried and failed to help Bobby that by the time he turned to the DRC, he had to be persuaded to try again.
Denise started with departments of vital records in Oklahoma, where Bobby was adopted and raised, and California, said to be his birthplace.
Neither state returned a birth record, only the first of many roadblocks they would face.
Each setback was discouraging, but Denise pressed Bobby’s case all the way to the Oklahoma governor’s office. One of the governor’s aides took up the challenge and ultimately won a court order unsealing the records of his adoption. After three years of hard work and help from a determined critical documents specialist, Bobby knew his birth name and with it, his true identify.
Family and genealogical research is just getting started, but Bobby has already been recognized as a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and found an ancestor who walked the Choctaw Trail of Tears.
After years of wondering who he is and where he belongs, Bobby now has deep roots.
“I’ve struggled a lot from not knowing,” he said. “Now I see what makes me me.”
There was more. He has sisters, one of whom lives in Denton. They met recently and were astonished to learn they attended the same high school and lived only blocks apart as teens, never knowing they were siblings.
The morning Denise handed Bobby his newly-issued driver’s license, he was planning the move to an apartment and talked about his job search.
He’s a different man today, Denise says, certain of himself and his future. As DRC critical documents specialist, she serves more people in a year than her associates combined, helping 968 people secure over 2,000 legal documents proving their identity in 2016. Few challenges have been as tough or as rewarding as her work with Bobby.
“It’s really easy for people on the streets to get discouraged, but I tell them, if you don’t give up, I won’t give up,” Denise said.