Who Am I: Rena

Who Am I: Rena

"All my life I have known myself as Rena Ortiz, but Rena Ortiz doesn't exist on paper," Rena says. "I do not know where I was born, when I was born, or who my real mom and dad are. I was 10 years old when my mom
passed, and that's when I found out that she wasn't my biological mother. I was told stories of where I may come from: I was left with a babysitter and that my mother never came back, that I was traded for drugs. There are more stories about where I came from, but nobody seems to know the truth, and I don't know who my mom would've told the truth to. I know that if my mom who raised me was still alive today, I would've already known the truth.

"I've tried to find out where I came from, but I haven't had any luck," she says. "Somebody who I know wrote an e-mail to Channel 2 and told them my story. Everything on my birth certificate is a lie. It says that I was born at Ellis Memorial Hospital at such address " which never existed " in Pampa, Texas, but on this birth registration card, it says I was born in Houston, Texas. The social security number that I thought was mine actually belongs to a 70-year-old doctor in Corpus Christi. I
t's very hard for me to live a normal adult life without a social security number. I can't get financial aid, and without financial aid, it's very difficult for me to go to school. It's hard to find a job. I can't get a driver's license. I can't travel. I'm going to be 19 in February, and I'm an adult, and I still don't have my identity. It got really hard to stay strong. I got physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired."

 

Rena struggles to hold back her tears. "Right now, even though I'm fine, I don't really talk too much about how tired I would get, and being reminded of it, it just kind of, I start feeling, like, a little bit overwhelmed," she says.

"It's amazing to think about," Dr. Phil says. "We live in this computerized world now, and if you've got no birth certificate, no social security card, no proof that you even exist, you can't get a driver's license, you can't leave or come in and out of the country, you can't get financial aid for college. At this point, you're just kind of hung out there, so what do you do?"

"It's kind of frustrating," she says. "I'm just waiting. Hopefully something will happen."

Dr. Phil has some surprises for Rena. "I know you've always wanted to do things with your life. You've always wanted to go to college, become something that you contribute to society, and like I said, you can't even get financial aid without a social security number," he says. Dr. Phil informs her that the social security administration is working to either authenticate the documents she has, or create new identification documents for her.

"Your life is obviously on hold at this point because you don't know who you are, but I'll tell you one thing you are: You're now the

recipient of a full, four-year scholarship to Sam Houston University," Dr. Phil says.

Rena covers her face and cries.

"They think your story is amazing and tragic, and they would love for you to be there, so arrangements have been made for a full, four-year scholarship," Dr. Phil says. "All you've got to do is keep your grades up, young lady. You don't keep your grades up, they'll kick you out. Don't care who you are or aren't or might have been or
would be. But we wanted to break that log jam for you so you could get moving. So, congratulations."

"Thank you very much," she says tearfully.

Dr. Phil informs her that investigators are continuing to work on her case as well, to help her discover her true identity. If you have any information about Rena's parents,

please tell us.