HOUSTON - A Houston family says they've been struggling to get birth certificates for their adopted daughters for the last few years from Texas Vital Statistics.
We helped to finally get the birth certificates, but found this family has not been alone.
Not being able to get a death certificate when someone dies can tie up death benefits to pay for a funeral. And not being able to get a birth certificate can prevent you from getting a passport, ID, or a driver's license.
"It's a government agency, so it's not like it's a store where you get bad customer service, you go somewhere else. This is like, our life in is their hands basically," said mother Michelle Recinos.
Recinos says she's been trying for four years to get birth certificates for their two adopted daughters, Leia and Umi.
"They finally came back and said, we need to amend their birth record first. So I have the court order from whenever their name was changed prior to the adoption. So I send that in and I get no response," said Recinos.
She says she has sent in all requested documents. Still no birth certificates.
"She's going to be wanting her permit at 15," said Recinos of her 13-year-old daughter. "And she doesn't have her birth certificate. So it's going to be really hard to do things."
In 2019, tens of thousands of Texas families were reported to be caught in a backlog of requests for birth, death, and marriage records, according to the Texas Tribune. The Texas Vital Statistics office was understaffed and had recently switched to the new TxEVER computer system, causing delays.
We asked Texas Health & Human Services, which oversees Vital Statistics, about the Recinos' case and the backlog.
A spokesperson wrote, "We were able to add some permanent staff following additional funding from the legislature last session and also hired temporary staff, which helped eliminate the backlog. We have a request pending with the legislature now to increase the full-time staff by 10 so we can continue to keep up."
The spokesperson says the Recinos' delay was because they need a birth certificate amendment and lacked a certified court order.
But Recinos says she had already given the office that court order.
"I have an adoption decree, a certified adoptions decree. So they're asking me for something that doesn't make sense," she said.
A week later, after we contacted DSHS, Recinos says she finally received birth certificates for both daughters.
The DSHS website says it can take about 30 days to get a birth certificate amendment. You can pay an extra $5 to expedite it.