Laila Stones was born on the floor, at the house her family shared in Danville, Virginia, just before sunset on May 2, 1959.
Her mother, Joan, was 13 years old. There was a midwife, but for whatever reason – lack of a licence, perhaps, or the stigma of unmarried pregnancy – she did not record the event.
"I first realised it was gonna be a problem when I sent to Virginia for a birth certificate and they sent me back a letter saying that I don't exist," Stones says. "That was a blow. How's somebody gonna tell you that you don't exist? You have a social security number, you live, you work. I graduated from high school, worked 33 years as a nurse. How are they gonna tell me I don't exist?"
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