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Monday, July 6, 2009

Paperwork once you are home- validation-SS#, Citizenship

 Ok, I have been asked this question a lot of times now. I got great help from other moms home with their kids who have done all this. I am going to put in the way we are doing it and why along with the links to the paper work files.
1. Apply for a temporary adoption tax ID number (ATIN link for info and form) for each child. This is a good option if you will not have time to get the validation and SS# done before tax time. This option is only valid if you have NOT done the validation yet. It takes about 10 weeks so plan ahead. If you do not need to change any name or date of birth at validation then you can get a SS# with the Certificate of Citizenship (COC) that comes automatically for children entering the country on an IR3 visa (both parents met the child before court).

2. Apply for the validation of foreign adoption (also called re-adopt or finalization). (El Paso County COLORADO forms if you are in another state just look up your county or state government page and look for forms or information, then look for the word adoptions and then under that validation of foreign adoptions, this should come up with info for you). On this form you can also change your child's name. In many cases the child will not come home with the name you would like for him or her to have, and in many cases will not even have your last name. In many states you can also change the child's birth date if needed. See post on birth date change.  There are varying degrees of proof needed for this depending on your county and state. I would suggest doing this only if it is really needed. In Colorado, I added this to the form under the change of name. I also wrote a letter stating our reasons and attached the "proof" documents. It worked out just fine for us. If you do this first your child's name will be correct on all the rest of the official papers and you will not have to redo it. You have to do this before you can get the citizenship papers anyway. Get the fingerprint reports (FBI and state) and the child abuse record/clearance from your DHS from your adoption agency, ally need is the copies they have on file. Your window of time for them to remain valid is important. Get it done fast or you will need to renew them. That is ok and not too expensive, it just takes time. If you are waiting on age of child to change the birth date, you have time, do the fingerprints again and wait on them to come and your child's progress at the same time. The fee for this in CO is $168 (this is from 2010 and will go up with each year) per child if they are not biologically related, $168 if they are blood related and a $3 charge for each additional blood related child. After you validate the adoption your child WILL be a legal citizen however will still only have the green card, why I don't know. This process and paper does not prove your child's citizenship by parentage. So you have to file for the proof of citizenship.

**A few notes from our experience. *On the Report of Adoption put your child's name that you are changing it to, not their original name.

*** I do not know if you have to do the Validation if you came home on an IR3 Visa. They are already citizens. 

2b. *After your hearing you will walk the files over to the COURT records, not the county records, this is MOST likely in the same building you had your hearing in. We were actually told the county.... ha! *You can then buy some copies of the decree. They are $30-40 each (2010). This will be filed and sealed and you will have to have a court motion to open it again and so you need the copies as you will not be able to access this again with ease. *Then you wait for the letter in the mail from the state department that handles adoption birth certificates. For us that is in Denver. Then you send them the money and they send you the certificates. This gets you a state validation foreign birth certificate, which is useful and highly necessary. However, it states right on it that it is not proof of citizenship. In some instances it also can not be used as a proof of date of birth, identity because it is a certificate of foreign birth, so essentially they are still birth certificate-less.  It also says that it is just a certificate certifying foreign birth.... which is about as good as it gets if you don't have any clue when that precious child of yours was actually born. There is a fee here. In CO it is about $38 per child (2010). You can buy extra ones for a discount at this time. Sounds like a good idea. One for the lock box and one for use. Once you get the birth certificates you can file for proof of citizenship. Unlike the Validation you CAN order more of these at any time.

3. With the new two trip rule the process here has changed for most. If both parents (or single parent) has met the child BEFORE court and AFTER referral then your child will enter the US on an IR3 visa and will automatically receive citizenship and the Certificate of Citizenship for no extra fee. How nice. I understand that this comes within one to two months of entering the US with your child after adoption. The child will have their Ethiopian name and the adoptive father's name as middle name and then your last name.... mostly (2008-11). If you want to change names there is a fee in the neighborhood of $300 + or so to get a new Certificate of Citizenship with the name change on it. I think you can do a Date of Birth change with tons of proof on it at the same time. I do not know if you change their name and or date of birth on the Validation if that nullifies the COC or not. I expect it is traceable to them and still proof of citizenship. Getting that COC without the validation first is causing a great deal of complications for name changes and date of birth changes.

For those of you who adopted under the old policies or who have had to recieve a waiver and only one parent met your child prior to court then the following applies to you.
Apply for your child's citizenship papers. (USCIS forms and info and fact sheet on citizenship) You will need to fill out the N-600 and pay the $550 per child (2013, this will go up each year). They DO  NOT accept personal checks you will need a bank check or money order. Until you do this your child WILL NOT be able to prove the he or she is a citizen of the US. This means your kids entered on an IR-4 visa (meaning the court procedure declaring the child officially yours happened before you met them in Ethiopia). In addition my understanding of and experience with this is that you will not be able to do this until after you have filed for and received the validation of foreign adoption as the US does not consider the adoption full and final abroad for certain legalities that I do not understand. Even though it is, you still have to have this paper. You DO NOT have to apply for the green card, your child is a legal alien (you should have received a green care in the mail after returning to the US) until the validation of foreign adoption at which time they become a citizen but can't prove it, they keep the green card as their form of ID. If you come in to the States on IR-4 you will get the green card automatically. (Two trip families who both traveled for court: If you come in on IR 3 your child will be automatically a Naturalized Citizen and you get the COC.) If your child comes in on IR 4 -YOU MUST FILE FOR PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP, while your child is a citizen after the validation they can not prove it without this. This can get sticky after they turn 18. A passport should prove this, but there have been some issues with it for some.

Other notes on this process:
From USCIS "The USCIS has re-engineered its processing in order to streamline the production of Certificates of Citizenship for certain children adopted abroad. Streamlined processes have been developed for newly entering IR-3 children who are automatically U.S. Citizens when they arrive. These newly entering IR-3 children will receive Certificates of Citizenship within 45 days of their arrival instead of receiving a Permanent Resident Card and then filing the
N-600 for a Certificate. (Please see our Fact Sheet for additional information)" This is NOT for a child entering on IR4 visa. It later explains that you have to buy that proof if both parents did not meet the child before the foreign adoption.

4. SS#. (form and explanation of procedure) This is free!!!! Yippee!!! If you do this before the validation and or citizenship you will have to re do the name, if you are changing that. You can get a temporary # like a person on a work visa can get. You have to finalize it after the validation. Some offices will give you a hard time about it and will try to get you to have the cert. of cit. first and validation too. You don't have to do it this way, but we have opted to wait until last so that we have all the needed papers the first time through. We hope anyway. This also will not prove citizenship. If you go after validation but before Certificate of Citizenship or after *Certificate of Citizenship* this is what you need:
*US birth certificate (this is not going to do you any good as it is a mere formality and considered a "souvenir" paper as it is only a certificate saying your child was born in another country). Useless.
*US passport or *Certificate of Citizenship*
* my driver's license
*a filled out SS card application
*validation court decree

This should take 14 days. There is the possibility that they will have to verify your child's paperwork with USCIS and that will take an additional 14 days. We have that issue, likely because we changed the date of birth.

Notes on SS#:
While some have been refused a SS# based on not yet having the COC, you should be able to legally do this with a passport.

*“Your Social Security Number and Card,” available at:*

* *Citizenship or immigration status: We can accept only certain
documents as proof
of U.S. citizenship. These include a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. consular
report of birth, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate
of Citizenship.

*“Proof of Citizenship / Naturalization,” available at:***

We can accept most documents that show you were born in the U.S. If you are
a U.S. Citizen born outside the U.S., we need to see a document such as a:

  - U.S. consular report of birth,
  - U.S. passport,
  - Certificate of Naturalization, or
  - Certificate of Citizenship.

5. Some families get a passport (link form and procedure) for their kids right away.  :) We are not getting these until we plan to go abroad. Not anytime soon for us. See above note from SS administration.  This SHOULD prove citizenship, but has been problematic for many. Therefore, we are not going this route.To apply for the passport your child will need to have one of these documents. (this is from the US passport office) :

You can prove your US citizenship with one of the following:
  • Original Birth Certificate (if born in the United States);
  • or Old (undamaged) passport;
  • or Original Certificate of Citizenship or FS-240, DS-1350 ( if born outside the US );
  • or Original Certificate of Naturalization issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Office.

6. Return of Documents. forms here. This is how you get the papers back which you turned in at the airport immigration (sealed packet from the US embassy in Addis) when you came into the US with your child. It is called the G-884 Return of Original Documentation. It is FREE!

Notes on Citizenship:
*****:A word on Citizenship (Italics and bold mine. )

from the US gov. page
"U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR AN ADOPTED CHILD It’s very important that you make sure your adopted child becomes a U.S. citizen. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was designed to make the citizenship acquisition process easier and eliminate extra steps and costs. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if:
1. At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen;
2. The child is under the age of 18;
3. The child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; and
4. The adoption is final. (re-adopt or validation is complete)

Because of the Child Citizenship Act, many (IR3) parents are no longer required to make a separate application for their children to be naturalized. If your adoption doesn’t meet these requirements, however, acquiring citizenship for your child will require an additional process and additional fees. If you postpone or even forget to file for your child’s naturalization, your child may have difficulty getting college scholarships, working legally, voting, et cetera. In some cases, your child might actually be subject to possible deportation. Make plans right away to protect your child’s future."
Page 31 | FROM A to Z

From the USCIS website:
"Children with IR-4 and IH-4 visas:
   - do not acquire automatic citizenship upon entry to the U.S., but
   instead become permanent residents.
   - will automatically receive a permanent resident card (green card).
   - will automatically acquire citizenship on the date of their adoption in
   United States, if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday."
USCIS site on this issue

"Permanent Residence (a "green card") grants the right to live in, leave and
reenter, and work in the U.S. It does not grant, for instance, the right to
vote in U.S. elections. Permanent Residence may be deemed abandoned if the
U.S. government believes that the permanent resident has not maintained
sufficient ties to the U.S. to demonstrate intent to keep it. It can also be
revoked if, for instance, the permanent resident commits certain crimes.

Citizenship includes all those rights, plus the right to vote and certain
other rights. Citizenship cannot be deemed abandoned even if the citizen
resides aborad for long periods of time without strong ties to the U.S. It
can be taken away, but normally only if the naturalized citizen can be
proven to have misrepresented something during the naturalization process
(or does something which could also cause removal of citizenship to a
U.S.-born citizen, such as fighting with a foreign army against the U.S.)" 

My personal opinion note on this: It has been the experience of several families and on the advice of several agencies involved with adoptions as well as adoption lawyers, that it is imperative that you get the COC for your child. The passport will not prove citizenship in an official way before you validate the adoption in the US, because they are permanent residents, not citizens. It is debatable if it proves citizenship after the validation/finalization/readopt. I realize that the documents are not 100% clear on this issue, there is debate on this subject. However, I make this statement on the experience of so many others who I have read about and met on line finding out the hard way that they needed the COC. For the passport you pay for it every few years and after they are 18 they have to keep doing it, or they bear the burden of having to go through all the naturalization stuff that you could have spared them, they can not just get the COC after they are 18. You pay for the COC once-before they are 18. In the end the cost of the renewal of a passport and the risk of it lapsing and the burden of maintaining it after 18 is a far greater cost and risk than paying the $420 for the COC one time and never having to consider it again. You KNOW you have done the best thing for your child the first time.

When should I do this?
I would strongly suggest starting on this while you are waiting for the embassy date. You can download most of the forms to your computer and fill out what you can and get the name off the adoption birth certificate, etc. when you receive it. You will need the court adoption forms from Ethiopia. You can have the validation papers ready to go when you get home with a few add in's and that will be great being as tired as you will be when you get home. Sometimes, for older kids you need to wait a bit to see if their given age is off or not. Mostly it is, but if it needs changed is entirely up to you. In any case you have until they turn 18 to do this, of course I think it is best to get it done in the first two years home.

Legal information
Government page on International adoption
Inter Country adoptions A-Z
Adoption magazine guide to paperwork, clear and well laid out.
What ID do you need for what services or proofs? Check it out here.
Article on why you should get the Certificate of Citizenship


  1. Thank you for putting all of this in one place! We did it backwards, got Amelia's ss# and passport first. Now it's time to finalize her adoption (and then, of course, get her new name on the other stuff). I'll be checking back to find those links!!!

  2. Thank you for putting all of this together! We did it backwards and got Amelia's ss# and passport first. But it's past time to finalize her adoption. I'll be checking back for the links, and thanks again!

  3. It doesn't matter what order you do it in. Just do it the way that fits for you.
    Glad to be of help, the links are made!

  4. I just came home with my kids 3 weeks ago and am so confused. If you have time can you please email me so that I can ask a few questions? Thanks so much! Brandi

  5. Thank you...this is a life saver, I was dreading all of the research to figure this out!!!


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