Archive for February, 2016
Certificate of Citizenship, again. Because possessing one is that important!
My friend Caroline Tiffin posted this and gave me permission to share. From Caroline:
I am both an adoptive parent and a former agency founder/director. Over the years since adoptions closed I have been contacted by many adoptive parents who either misplaced their children’s adoption documents from Guatemala or wanted additional certified copies. Some of them had not secured their child’s US citizenship. This week the Adam Crapser case is again in the news – he was adopted to the US from South Korea at age 3; the first adoption disrupted and he was adopted by a second family. Neither secured his US citizenship. He is now facing deportation to a country he does not know with a language he does not speak. I post about this from time to time – PLEASE make sure your child is a US citizen AND that they are recognized as such by the Social Security Administration.
In short, if your child came to the US on an IR-4 visa – meaning if you are a single parent you did not visit him/her in Guatemala before finalization there, or if married, both did not visit, then your child is NOT A CITIZEN if you did not subsequently adopt him/her in the United States.
Adult adoptees are on this page – if you do not have a copy of your certificate of naturalization or citizenship, it is imperative that you talk to your parents and get this. You are an adult and entitled to have it. Leave it with them for safekeeping for now if you want, but you need to eyeball it yourself. If you discover you are not a citizen, contact me privately and I will do my best to assist you.
Adoptive parents – if you need any adoption documents in order to secure your child’s citizenship, or just want some extra copies, I am offering to assist at no charge to you other than what my facilitator in Guatemala charges to retrieve and certify them. I will be traveling to Guatemala in mid March, returning in early April. I am willing to bring documents back with me to save adoptive parents the cost of having them Fed Ex’d from Guatemala.
Here is how it works:
You send me an email with scans of the documents you want, to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you don’t have copies to scan ie you have misplaced your originals given to you in Guatemala, explain to me what you need and I will see if it is possible to get them anyway.) Please title the email Adoption Document Retrieval. I will forward this information to the facilitator and she will respond with a quote. If you agree, you send this payment to me. I will bring the documents back from Guatemala and Fed Ex them to you, whereupon you will reimburse me for the Fed Ex.
Available documents are:
- Certified copies of the birth certificate as filed at RENAP, the national vital records department. Generally the cost to retrieve and certify two identical copies is about $60.00 – 75.00
- Certified copy of the Protocolo, which is the last document signed by the birth mother, which finalizes the adoption. Some refer to this as an adoption decree but it’s really not since it is not issued by a court, but, it serves the same purpose. This can only be retrieved if the adoption lawyer properly registered the Protocolo with the government archive; if s/he did not it would be necessary to contact the lawyer, hope they still have their file, and convince them to register the Protocolo.
- Copies of the birth mother’s cedula
- Please inquire via email about any other documents
Note that you can always file, free of charge with USCIS, Forms G-339 and G-884, to get back original documents (and sometimes photos). You can download the forms at www.uscis.gov
Feel free to ask questions [to Caroline at her email, email@example.com] but I cannot give any quotes except as explained above. If you want to ask me a question privately, please do so via email, not PM. If there is a large response to this and the facilitator will not have time to fulfill all requests in time, I will prioritize ones where the child is not yet a citizen. I will be going back possibly in May, definitely in July and could bring back any remaining ones then.
My son Mateo and I stood checking out books at our local library when a very tall, elderly white man hobbled by using a cane. The old man stopped in front of the Returns slot, opened his tote bag, and began slipping in books. But in the process of negotiating tote bag, books, and cane, the old man lost his balance, and although he grabbed hold of the counter to right himself, his grip loosened on the cane and it clattered to the floor.
The old man sighed with a sound of frustration, as though wondering how on earth he was going to fold his six-foot-five frame into the shape necessary to bend down to retrieve his cane, and once successful, get back up. My parents are 87 and use wheelchairs and walkers, and because of that, I’m hyper-aware of mobility challenges. Quickly, I rushed over and scooped up the cane and handed it to the old man, waving away his thanks by explaining my folks are 87 and I was happy to help.
“Myself, I’m 94,” the man said, the twinkle in his eye showing he knew “94” was bound to impress.
“Good for you!” I said, and meant it. The man’s gaze traveled past me and landed on Mateo, who had finished checking out his books and was arranging them in an orderly stack. “How old are you, young man?” he asked.
“A marvelous age,” the man said, and left it at that.
I smiled because the old man, even at 94, was very tall, and Mateo, at eleven, hasn’t had his growth spurt, and in fact, may never be a giant. Recently, a woman in the paint department at Home Depot had asked Mateo his age, and when Mateo told her 11, the woman turned to me and said, “He’s short, isn’t he? I would have guessed nine.”
The episode confirmed my belief, solidified since becoming a mother through adoption, that people will say whatever they think, other people’s feelings be damned. I was grateful to the man for not mentioning Mateo’s height. He leaned over and looked at Mateo’s stack of books. “What are you reading?”
“History.” Mateo held up his books shyly. “The Revolutionary War.”
“History was always my favorite,” the man said. “Especially the Revolutionary War.” He looked at Mateo and then at me and back to Mateo. “I was adopted. My parents were English, and my birth mother was a Scot. Of course, I’m an American.”
Mateo beamed, and although I was tempted to tell the man we’re an adoptive family, I didn’t. At eleven, my son is old enough to share his story if he chooses. Besides, I was sure the old man figured it out for himself. Instead, Mateo told the old man we’d visited Lexington and Concord and the sites in Boston, and next were going to Gettysburg and Philadelphia. The old man said that sounded splendid.
We said our good-byes, and as Mateo and I walked to the car, he said, “Did you hear that, Mom? He was adopted too.”
I didn’t say, “He probably noticed we don’t look alike. He probably knew without our telling.” Instead, I held my son’s face in my hands and kissed his cheek. “I did hear, Mateo. That is so cool.”
An excerpt from Jillian Lauren’s memoir of adoption, Everything You Ever Wanted, is posted on the Adoptive Families website. I read and loved and recommend the book. Jillian Lauren’s voice is thoroughly engaging and real, and the story of becoming a mother through adoption is, of course, one of my favorite subjects. The AF website requires a log-in to read the excellent interview with the author, conducted by my friend Sharon Van Epps, but you should be able to access the excerpt here.
We’ve moved my parents to an assisted living facility in San Diego, near where one of my sisters lives. My mother now needs assistance with almost everything–standing, sitting, moving in any way–although she can still lift a spoon to her mouth and sip through a straw. It shocks me every time I see her, to know three years ago she did Pilates twice a week and chair yoga on the other days. That five years ago, she could kick over her head and place her palms flat on the floor, and ten years earlier, danced six shows a week in the Palm Springs Follies. At 72, my mother earned an Associates Degree at Palomar College. Her degree was in Dance, and she was the school’s oldest graduate.
How quickly it happens, everything goes away. We don’t think it will, but it does.
The assisted living facility provides occasional entertainment for the residents, and last week, the ‘Rhinestone Grannies’ came to put on a show. In the photo below, you can see Mom in blue, front and center. Somehow word leaked out my mother was a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette–at events such as these, it always does–and the cast members insisted on posing with her. Mom loved the costumes and choreography, the singing and tap dancing. And of course the attention. Those things keep her alive.
A friend in Guatemala sent me the link to a website designed by Pat Goudvis, When We Were Young / There Was a War. Some of you may be familiar with Goudvis from her documentary about adoption from Guatemala, “Goodbye Baby.”
The site features archival interviews with children whose families were affected by Guatemala’s armed conflict, and reflections by those children, now adults, 20 years later. Text on the site describes the conflict, with a link for teacher resources. My 13-year-old daughter watched the interviews of the children from Guatemala, and was moved by the testimonials and footage. Below is an excerpt from the introduction.
“… As I visited people and communities in Guatemala and El Salvador during and after the civil wars, in the 1980s-90s, I wondered about the experience of the children. That led me to make a documentary film in 1993 called “If the Mango Tree Could Speak,” featuring ten adolescents from those two countries, telling their stories of growing up in the midst of war.
“When We Were Young / There Was A War continues the story of those same people today, who are now adults, many with children of their own. I’ve kept in touch with most of them over the years and filmed them again in 2012.”