In the Beginning… I was Adam
There I was in the passport office… Now what is your name, Sir? Chris Lutyk. OK and is this your birth certificate? Yes. Well OK, thank you. Oh… this paper is the birth certificate of an Adam G Lutyk. You say this is yours. Yes, ma’am… uh… if you look to the right you’ll see the baptism name… Oh, OK I see it, it says Christopher. Smiling, I say, yes that’s right that’s my name. Well, I’m afraid we will need some additional identification. Do you have any other ID with your “real” name?
And so it began… I needed to prove that this Adam and me, Chris, were one and the same guy! Yet the dilemma was that I had never been called Adam and until that time I never really grokked that my birth certificate didn’t “officially” say I was Christopher. The good news was that at least it showed my baptismal name on it. THAT confirmed that the name Christopher didn’t just appear out of thin air one day.
Turns out that when I was born my mom was asked what my name was and she blurted out Chris but it sounded like Adam… no, not really! She actually said Adam and much to my Dad’s chagrin! “I thought we agreed on Christopher”! No other details were ever revealed to me concerning this SNAFU.
I was baptized a week or so after my birth, my Uncle (married to my Dad’s sister, Jana), George (or Jerzy or Jurek in Polish!) Mirski was my godfather. In those days the documents bureau in London added the baptism name to the official birth certifcate. Lucky for me! So in the beginning… I was Adam. After baptism… I was Christopher (Christ bearer!). That part I think is kind of cool!
So my baptismal name stuck and thereafter I lived in London as Chris until I was 2 1/2 years of age at which time my Mom (pregnant with my brother Rick) and Dad and I gained passage on some steamer heading for America. (Neil Diamond singing in the background!) We had been sponsored by my Dad’s older relatives Jan and Zophia Lutyk who moved from Canada to the DC area (great story for later post!).
I don’t know if I was Adam or Chris on my visa. I assume it was Adam. Up till then though, I had been called by Chris (Krysio in Polish) all my life. Looks like my mom enrolled me in daycare and school and whatever with the name Christopher G Lutyk. Without filling out any official papers to affect that change I would obviously be flying under the radar until some day of judgment in the future. I had no idea. In my mind there was no one but Chris! And no one asked any questions and I pretty much officially became Chris Lutyk! (Trumpets sound!)
My parents eventually became citizens of this great land and as is customary renounced their British and Polish citizenships. Via the natualization process I piggy-backed their citizenship with my own. I was now the American Chris! And not the British Adam! (More trumpets, please!)
Life proceeded without a hitch. I finished High School as Chris, ditto College with Student Loan, throw in a marriage license and then ordination and minister’s license. Got my Social Security Card… the IRS was happy to take my taxes! I was 100% Chris… the old self, Adam was nere to be found! (ta-da!)
All was right with me and America and the world until the day I wanted to leave the country. I was a pastor at the time and I was pretty excited about my first trip out of the country! I was going to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a week-long conference. And this catches us up to my first encounter with the glorious US Passport Office! The unexpected S.N.A.G!
So how does the Passport Office Counselor Affairs of the Department of State help me get this resolved? How does one right the information for a passport for a birth certificate gone wrong in London? Not easily to be sure!
Every piece of identification that I had on me except the birth certificate said my name was Christopher G Lutyk. But was that good enough for the DoS of the good ole USA? Nope! Not by a long shot…
They decided to banish me the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service aka INS, an agency that no longer exists since 2003. Now it’s the Department of Homeland Security. Glad this all happened before DHS! Who knows what would have transpired! As it is, what happened was wild enough!
First they needed to see mail from my current residence addressed to me… like electric and gas and auto insurance and the like. Then I needed get copies of my parents naturalization papers which of course you could not get from the main INS office I was at. I had to go to the court my parents did the swearing of allegiance… which they couldn’t tell me! After a bit of searching I was off to Alexandria! Once I got those I needed go back to my grade school St Thomas More in Arlington where I went from first through fourth grades. There I needed to get a couple of report cards (!?!) which had my date of birth and my address and proved that Chris existed back then! Naturally my mom vouched for me and signed whatever affadavit was required.
But was that enough… No, of course not! I had to go to another INS office a few times for them to get the record of the day I came into New York harbor along with the name of the ship I traveled on with my parents! This information must have been buried under Ellis Island in a time capsule considering how long it took to find it.
Finally after successfully jumping obediently through the maze of hoops I was certified as both Adam and Chris! Of course being certified as the same person helped more that I could imagine… MPS – multiple personalilty disorder was thankfully stricken off the list of my possible psychological maladies that day!
I was issued a bona fide US Passport with the name… you guessed it! Christopher George Lutyk. No mention of Adam on it at all.
This later came in very handy when I needed to get my government clearance. Thankfully the Passport Office has all the gory details logged in my file saving me ever to go through this again. As long as… I don’t let my US Passport expire! (perish the thought!!)
Going to England soon has brought all this back to memory. I now ask myself. Why haven’t I officially changed my name to Chris so that Adam is finally put to rest? Good question… hope to answer that soon. Till then I leave us with this final thought.
In the beginning… I was Adam (and of Adam). In the end… I am Christopher (and I am of Christ)! That part I like!