Years of searching, Independence man unable to track down birth certificate to prove existence

Problem Solvers

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — At 18 years old, Devin Ivy is tired of always being a passenger every time he climbs into a car.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to just be like a normal teenager,” said Ivy.

But that’s a struggle because he doesn’t have a driver’s license, a job or even the ability to go to college or vote. Devin is prevented from doing any of those things because he doesn’t have a birth certificate.

“Devin was born in Tennessee, we think in 2002,” said Christine Bence who, along with her husband, adopted Devin about two years ago from the state of Missouri’s Children Division.

For almost that long she’s searched for a record of his birth. Tennessee said it doesn’t have one. A social security number that Christine said was assigned to Devin by Missouri’s Children Division tracks back to Arkansas – another state with no record of Devin being born.

How Devin ended up without any birth certificate is unclear – although a relative once told Devin that he was not born in a hospital, but at the then- home of his birth mother in Tennessee. Devin’s early life was pretty tumultuous.

“Things just weren’t the best and we all went into foster care,” said Devin, referring to him and his seven siblings.

Christine and her husband got to know Devin through their children.

“He was my kiddos’ friend,” she said. “They went to school with him.”

Christine’s family immediately embraced him. Devin would often join them at dinner and celebrate holidays in their home.

“He’s a good kid,” said Christine.

A good kid who is ready to become a productive adult. Devin said he wants to finish his education and start a career in heating and cooling.

But not having a birth certificate has been a road block. Without proof of his birth, he can’t get a job or attend a vocational school.

Christine and her husband tried to solve this problem in court. They thought they had last June when a judge ordered the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records to give Devin a birth certificate.

The judge wrote that since Devin’s place of birth “cannot be determined, this court presumes and concludes the child was born in Missouri.”

But the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records would not comply with the court order because Missouri law requires more information about where someone is born before the state can legally claim them. Unfortunately for Devin that kind of information doesn’t exist.

“I don’t know who else to call,” said Christine, wondering what to do next. “I’ve sent the governor emails. I’ve sent emails to the children’s division. I’ve called family court. I don’t know what to do to get this kid a birth certificate.”

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That’s why Christine called FOX4 Problem Solvers. We called Christine’s state representative Robert Sauls, hoping he might be able to break through the bureaucracy and solve this problem.

“I think it’s crazy there is this court order and we are still struggling with it,” Sauls said, who called the Bureau of Vital Records on Devin’s behalf.

Not long after that conversation, a spokeswoman for the Vital Records told Problem Solvers that the state had never given up trying to solve this problem. Just this week it reached an agreement with Devin’s attorney that would allow the state to grant Devin a birth certificate. All that’s required is an updated court order listing a Missouri county as Devin’s birthplace.

Although Christine is skeptical that this will solve Devin’s problem and result in a birth certificate, she’s trying to remain hopeful.

FOX4 Problem Solvers will let you know what happens.



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