I am white, Christian, cis-everything, American-born descendant of a traveler on the actual Mayflower. My three children are boys with browning-blonde hair. I am as protected as one can be in such times as the ones we’re living.
This blog is not about the people I love who are less protected or about the activism I and others are doing. This blog is about how my own longterm anxiety and depression have led me to a practice that I want to share because someone might find them useful.
About six years ago, when I was about to travel with then very small children, I prepared their documents for the first time. I took them for state-issued ID cards, and we got their fingerprints done at a local sheriff’s office (for our purposes, not on file officially). I also filled out a mini DNA kit with samples and the body map of identifying marks.
All originals stayed (and stay) in a secure location, but I began to carry with me a small manila packet inside a plastic zipper bag. Inside the packet: a copy of the birth certificate for each member in my immediate family; a copy of each child’s shot records; a copy of each child’s fingerprints; a copy of identification for each member of the family; a copy of my state-issued marriage license and certificate; a copy of the titles to our vehicles.
Why? Because I wanted ready information in case one of my children was separated from me or I was incapacitated. At the time, it was simply a coping mechanism for my own anxiety, and even as they’ve grown into preteens who can speak and who know their pertinent info, I’ve continued the habit.
There are so very many reasons that people seeking asylum to our country may not have these types of documents with them. Some countries don’t issue birth certificates or have standardized immunization records. And some situations are so emergent that gathering records is impracticable before fleeing.
As for citizens of our country, I wish I could say none of us needs to keep these records handy. I’m no longer certain of that. Which is why I’m sharing. What began as a coping mechanism for one person’s general anxiety may be a safeguard to some people in some situations. Although if we get to that point, there may be no safeguards.
So we all keep acting in whatever ways we can to return children to their parents. To stop law enforcement violence. To uphold democracy. To minimize the threats to the vulnerable.