That’ll show them

Miguel Angel Pasalodos

Subtitled:  Why I hate adoptive parents, part 983

Children who are adopted internationally should have certificates of citizenship and valid passports.  When adoptive parents don’t bother or actively refuse to get this documentation for them, they are being negligent.  And stupid.  And agencies should be held accountable as well.   But apparently some agencies still also believe that the certificate of citizenship isn’t really necessary, because they tell their clients that.

Folks who believe the certificate of citizenship and valid passport aren’t really necessary obviously
haven’t been reading the news.  This is a function of privilege, because brown folks sure have to pay attention.  (More here.)

The number of children who arrive on an IR4 or IH4 visa has been steadily increasing since I first started tracking the numbers.  I attribute this to change in sending countries.  Kids who arrive on IR4 or IH4 visas do not automatically receive citizenship after their arrival in the United States, unlike IR3 and IH3 visa holders.  Additionally, children who come to the U.S. under “humanitarian parole” (e.g. Haiti) must go through the naturalization process.

In any event, all kids born outside the United States who intend to be United States citizens should have multiple proofs of citizenship.  That means the certificate of citizenship (or naturalization) and a valid passport.  (We’ve written extensively on this subject; use the “search” function to find additional posts.)

But a number of adoptive parents apparently fail to recognize this as a necessity.

In reading the cases of adult adoptees who have been detained by immigration, it appears many had unstable home lives.  Parents struggled with their lives. They divorced or died or were abusive or just plain negligent.  Some believed their children held citizenship.  Others never bothered to finish the paperwork.  Some never even knew it was an issue.

There are a lot of adoptive parents who don’t understand the Child Citizenship Act fully. Pretty much every time we post about citizenship issues, somebody shows up to whitesplain about how we are wrong. They don’t give any details or sources. They just know. Better than we do. Because that is one of the costs of racism.

But there’s another subset of parents who aren’t securing the certificate of citizenship for their children:

We still don’t have the COC and I refuse to pay the money for it when I have all of the documents that prove his is a citizen.  … I plan on him having a current passport at all times and unless a situation comes up that I can’t argue my way out of with the current passport, I will not get the COC.  I don’t think we should have to pay the ridiculous fee just because our kids came home on a different visa.  We’ve jumped through a million hoops already.

The fee is currently $550, which is less than two percent of the cost of an average international adoption. That’s a lot of money but the poster doesn’t say she doesn’t have it. She says she “refuse[s]” to pay it.

I’d be willing to wager that the cost of the certificate of citizenship is less than the average family spends on souvenirs, although they don’t withhold buying knickknacks because it doesn’t represent Sticking It to the Man. Such a brave stand! Although the government doesn’t care at all. And it won’t care if your kid doesn’t have proof when he or she needs it. The only person you’re sticking it to is your kid.

Sure, you can wait until you “can’t argue [your] way out” of a problem requiring proof of citizenship. But maybe you’ll be dead. Maybe you’ll have lost the paperwork. Immigration won’t have any record of your child becoming a citizen if he or she arrived on an IR4 or IH4 visa and you never submitted proof of full and final adoption and filed for the certificate. Even if you are still alive and have all the paperwork, CIS will still have to make the determination. Which takes time:

Shawn Saucier, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said any request for a certificate of citizenship can take months to process, or significantly longer depending on the amount of documentation a person is able to provide.

In addition, he said, immigration law has changed so frequently over the years that older cases can be very complicated. “The burden is on the individual. We can’t just assume that because someone believes they’re a citizen, they are,” Saucier said.

I’ve written previously about U.S. citizens who have been deported erroneously or erroneously detained. Current longest wrongful detention of a U.S. citizen: ten years. The erroneous deportees/detainees were citizens. They just couldn’t prove it to the CIS’ satisfaction.

But go ahead. Punish the government by refusing to fork over the money. Except nobody will know and nobody will care. Ignore the fact that other immigrants pay for proof of citizenship, because you’re obviously special. Don’t worry that the government doesn’t have any record that your child became a citizen. And you probably won’t get old and die and your kid won’t ever become an adult, either.  So when they are in  jail or maybe the Honduras, don’t worry. It will all be fine.

It will be fine.

Because you showed ’em.

9 thoughts on “That’ll show them

  1. Important subject.

    But “whitesplain?” If you are trying to inform adoptive parents, you aren’t doing a very good job of it.

  2. Oh no, oh no! can’t hurt the pwecious fee fees of those who do bad things in the name of love, never ever! Then they won’t listen to you and that means their atrocities will become your fault!

    Before you resume to take on the responsibility of raising a child you did not give birth to, the least you can do is educate yourself.

  3. PS–I’m white, and I take zero offense at the term “whitesplaning” because it descirbes a real phenomenon that really exists in the real world.

  4. I think I commented on this blog about this before, but it’s worth repeating.

    It is also necessary to present proof of citizenship to your local social security office, without it the child will never receive their full SS benefits, including those that minor children get if their parents die.

    Our agency now charges a refundable fee of $500 that is returned to the client when the agency receives a copy of the CoC. I was pretty offended by the idea of that fee (we did not pay it, it came up after we were done), thinking they were just generating more revenue in hard times and policing people’s personal responsibilities. But perhaps it is a good idea.

  5. I have one kiddo who came home on an IR3 and one on an IR4. Yeah it sucked to cough up the $500 bucks for the CoC (especially since my IR3 kiddo got hers for free) but it’s what you do when you are parent. You suck it up and provide for your child. Heck we were prepared to shell our another $400 for a replacement copy after an unfortunate incident with a Sharpie and a toddler because we were worried. Turns out the damage wasn’t that bad and both the SS office and the State department accepted it. But if they hadn’t we would have paid for the replacement because that’s what good parents do- they protect their kids. Drives me crazy to hear fellow APs talk like it doesn’t matter. (but a lot of what fellow APs say drives me crazy- there really ought to be a test)

  6. There really ought to be a test. Definitely. Because I have heard that very same argument, the one about money, from other APs around me and I want to punch them in the face. It’s a fraction of what you spent in the whole process. Just fill out the fucking paperwork (also, not that big of a deal) and send in your check.

  7. By the way.

    Here is a reason to make sure your adoption is recognized under US law – which often means readopting in the USA – __even if_ your kid has a COC.

    A COC is not in itself proof that the child is a full member of your family – as in, full inheritance rights, survivorship benefits of all the various kinds, etc. I believe that some relatives have surfaced and successfully made inheritance claims when an adoption was not redone in the USA. Even with a COC.

  8. @Snarkurchin – that’s not good enough. Many things are said with the same excuse. Can’t say I am offended but rather I’d like the information to be heard by those that need to hear it.

    @Lori, I think – I didn’t know it was possible to adopt and not also adopt officially here. Hopefully my children are protected in any case by our wills.

    @Melanie – I felt the same way listening to APs whine about being broke in general. What in living hell did they think they were getting into? Like this is some form of entertainment.

  9. Ed, I’m not sure I understand your comment. What information is being hidden? What would be “good enough”? The info is out there, freely available for those who damned well ought to access it. And the “we still don’t have the COC” person quoted in this post DID have the info and decided to to act on it because…well, I don’t even know. I truly don’t. S/he is beneath contempt, and should not be allowed to raise any children, ever.

    I suspect I may be taking your comment the wrong way, but I can’t really tell, so if the following paragraph does not apply to you, then it is not about you, and if that is the case, I hope you won’t take offense at it.

    Sometimes adoptees get sick and tired of being expected to educate all the adoptive parents in the world–not because we don’t want to do that for the sake of other adoptees, but because P/APs do not, in general, really value our thoughts and feelings and therefore do not listen. We keep trying anyway. Then we are told we are bitter and angry and must have had terrible parents. I am fresh out of patience for people who presume to parent someone else’s child without doing the research they would be expected to do before they “adopted” a shelter pet.

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