Thursday, August 12, 2010

Passports for adopted children - can someone please fix this?

Getting a US passport for any child got harder when the State Department decided to "fight" international child abduction by requiring both parents and a child to appear together at the passport office. I'm positive there's never been any cost/benefit evaluation of this measure. I'd wager it's all cost, no benefit.

Getting a US passport for an adopted child is even worse. There are two typical road blocks. One is "name change", the other is proof of citizenship for international adoptees.

The name change problem applies to all adoptees. Under current practice US adoptees are issues a new "birth certificate" and, almost always, their birth names are changed to match the names of adoptive parents. So for the purposes of the passport application, have they had a name change? I think the answer is "no". Their current name is the same as the name on the birth certificate, which is legally their originating name. If you answer "yes" you may run into trouble with demonstrating the legal chain of name change evidence, since, legally, it's never changed.

The proof of citizenship is a pain too. In theory a prior passport is evidence enough, but officials can be puzzled by this and they can request other documents as needed. International adoptee "birth certificates" look like US birth certificates, but they have an added statement that declares they don't serve as proof of citizenship. They only serve as proof of parental relationship. For proof of citizenship there's another document that one is supposed to keep locked away and photocopies are meaningless, so you won't have it at the passport office.

Isn't there a senator somewhere with adoptive children? (McCain's adopted daughter is an adult now, so she's clear of most of this mess.)


Seb said...

Weird coincidence that you'd bring this up as we're in the middle of a similarly painful process for Theo. Our main issue is that we need his citizenship card, which is taking forever because they have a huge backlog. No passport without one. Officially he became Canadian when we came into the country. I don't know why they had to make a seperate process for getting his card rather than tie it into the process we went through in China. Good luck.

JGF said...

We've been through it lots of times with the 3 kids and frequent trips to Canada. It's so annoying that they can't seem to figure this out.

Sad that Canada has the same problem!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is silly. Although it is suppose to be easier now that they are not required to go through the nationalization process. Even though our kids BC did not have their Korean names, I am quite sure I had to provide them for the passports. Their green cards would have been in their Korean names. A friend in Hennepin county really had a difficult time getting the U.S. passports. She wrote to the senators about her issues.