Thursday, December 8, 2011

Adoption final, citizenship next

 Today we finalized our adoption of Amiya & Malakai! What does that mean? Well, several things:

  1. We are now legally their parents as opposed to guardians 
  2.  Name change
  3. They can now obtain US birth certificates
  4. We can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship (COC)
Last week I began preparing for this court date. I wanted to have as much paperwork ready as I could so we could fix names on their Social Security card, look into US passports and apply for this Certificate of Citizenship thing that I'd heard about a few times. The more I looked into it, and asked very dear friends questions, the more I realized that finalizing this adoption was just the beginning of more paperwork and fees. We thought that once we finalized and they had a US birth certificate, that also meant that they would be US citizens. SURPRISE- Not so easy! US Birth Certificate does not = US citizenship. In order to obtain citizenship, we will still have to fill out the N-600 (6 page form) for each child, submit another $550 per child to USCIS and wait for the certificate which will declare them legal US citizens.

It seems odd but we also found out that even children who are adopted and come to the states on a US passport also have to re-adopt in the states in order to get a US birth certificate.  That may vary by state but was still very interesting to find out that information!

Regardless of what the process continues to be, we're thrilled to be able to finalize today and thankful for all the amazing people who have encouraged us and helped us get to this point.
 We had a very kind judge today, Malakai gave him a big hug it was precious!

 Little flashback to court in UG and kids running around (thankfully this time it was BEFORE the judge came in)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Africa to America: Christmas Part 2

As many families, we like to put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. We wanted to take the kids to Old Baker Farm to do the hayride, cut down a tree, haul it back etc but time ran out so, we settled on heading down to Home Depot to pick up our tree again this year!

As we walked around the tent with trees, the kids wanted up and down, walk around, touch every tree etc. There weren't many people there when we went, it seemed the people who were there were just like us in that they were doing the last minute Thanksgiving weekend tree pick up! I didn't think about how "busy" the kids were until another man shopping said "That's why I leave the kids at home, too much of a hassle." I tried to ignore him but his comment just kept irking me. I wanted get defensive and explain how new this was for us and for the kids. Hassle, are you kidding me? You clearly haven't worked with Citizenship & Immigration or the Embassy in another country, not to mention trying to interpret all the forms you have to fill out etc! We have done "hassle." The other part of me was just sad, it was always a fun (although I'm sure I griped many times) family tradition to go pick out the Christmas tree whether we went to the tree farm or supported the local boy scouts. I hope we can establish some meaningful & memorable Christmas traditions with our new family!

While we were there, Amiya picks up a branch from the floor and begins sweeping

They swept pine needles all the way out to the parking lot

Several rounds to make sure they have cleaned the floor

Again, all the way out to the parking lot

Malakai sweeping
They were not very happy about giving up their branches, well Amiya wasn't anyway. We had to take hers home and then she swept the kitchen floor (or swept it all under the oven and fridge)

I just watched in amazement for about 20 minutes, this was likely a chore they helped their grandmother with. We also watched in amazement in Uganda as we watched so many hunched over sweeping with either branches or a small collection of grass.

We finally got the Christmas tree up in our house, it's a small pathetic little tree so don't laugh if you come to our house! We had been working on saying Christmas Tree but when dad filled up the bottom with water, it became "Water Tree."  They'd also like to wish you the sweetest little Merry Christmas you've ever heard!