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I hope this blog will be helpful to you in your adoption whether you are considering, waiting or home. I started this blog when we were adopting and found there was next to nothing on the web in any orderly manner. I set about to collect information for myself and then for others. Now, there are more sites for resources, but still not much that brings it all together. I hope this blog will serve as a sort of clearing house for Ethiopian Adoption Information. Please feel free to contribute your knowledge through commenting.
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Welcome to the journey!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

get your child's Certificate of Citizenship

FIRST go read the story on this blog.Grasping at the Wind. Story about a failed vacation due to improper citizen documentation claim by the vacation company.

THEN you can read my comments on it below. Won't make any sense if you don't read their post first.

I would like to say that considering the number of internationally adopted kids, every company that could possibly have a citizen requirement should have the stipulations spelled out clearly. Very clearly. There is no excuse for this having occurred. 1. the company should have had the information in all their documents for all clients prior to boarding. 2. they should have some provision for the family since the company is the one who had failed to communicate what documents were needed. 3. a refund guarantee should have been offered immediately. 4. I do commend the company for being careful as it could sway child kidnapping and abuse, but this was pretty clearly not that situation. They may have to abide by Interpol as they are going through non US waters. Interpol is very stringent on this sort of thing, even with biological kids.

With that in mind, what most adoptive parents don't know is that very little will prove the citizenship of a child. While the adoption does make your child a citizen the documents to prove that vary greatly and it is the whim of the organization what proof they will accept as there is no national standard enforced. Your child comes in with a particular visa that makes them a citizen in conjunction with a state validation of foreign adoption (also called other things). This makes them a citizen and the green card they got should show that but not everyone takes that. So, you go with this info and get a passport (or passport card) for your child, that is good. It needs renewed and by the time you have renewed it every few years until your child reaches adulthood you have spent nearly as much as a COC would have cost and you now have to trust that your child will be responsible with his or her documents and renew the passport every few years. Good but not good enough in my opinion. Many kids now come in and automatically get a Certificate of Citizenship, that is awesome.  I would encourage all parents to go to the furthest extent in order to have the documents to prove their child's citizenship. That would be the Certificate of Citizenship. While not required it is the ONLY document universally accepted as proof. A terrible way to make money off adoptive parents who have already put out a lot of money. Yep. But worth it in the end if you don't come home with the visa that gives you one automatically.

Here is what the family had (and my experience with why that was not enough, but should have been):
  • An original, embossed birth certificate issued by State Vital Records. (this is a Certificate of Foreign Birth in most counties and states. It is often considered a mere formality and in some cases is taken and in others it is declared a "souvenir document" and rejected, it is NOT proof of citizenship in any case. A Certificate of Foreign Birth is not really a Birth Certificate and thus your child will never have an actual Birth Certificate, as sad as that is.)
  • His current Ethiopian passport with entry Visa (Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows an adopted child’s foreign passport with US entry stamp as proof of US citizenship). (while this DOES indicate and proclaim citizenship, there is not a law binding on any entity to accept this as proof, even though it is. It is understandable that this would need to be accompanied by another document such as the adoption certificate in order to differentiate the child as a citizen by adoption rather than a child on a different form of visa. Many would not be able to distinguish between the variations of visa's allowed and what reasons they are given for. The employee would need trained on this to accept it. Which was obviously not the case.)
  • High resolution scan of his USCIS (green card) on phone. They didn't take the original because it wasn't listed as a required document .  (the green card gives permission to enter and live in the US -in this case permanently, not always the case- it does not prove or grant Citizenship for all organizations rules, however it is supposed to do the same as a COC in this instance, especially when combined with all the other info they had available. I have to say that I would have taken this with as a precaution as it is a rather important document proving the right to be in the USA and leaving our shores is risky business without it. A copy or scan of this is just not going to cut it. If they had had it that would have worked. Too bad they did not think of it and the company did not mention it.)
  • High res scan of his social security card and adoption decree; also offered to fax / email / overnight.  (the social security card does not prove citizenship ever, you can get one with a green card for work. The adoption decree from a Validation or Readopt does guarantee citizenship, however it is not used as proof in any setting that I am familiar with, why I don't know, it is silly.)


  1. I've been scratching my head over this one all week. We have traveled overseas with our large family of bio and Ethiopian adopted kids, both by air and sea, multiple times and have never been asked for any documentation other than their valid US Passports. I'm not sure why anyone needs anything else, quite frankly. No one ever asked me for anything different than that for my bio kids in the earlier years of our family either. I would never travel around with the CoC's... they are kept securely in our bank box. But I might consider adding a picture of them on our phone. I just don't get it why any agency would ask for more documentation unless they are suspicious because some of the kids don't look like me. Sounds like profiling.

  2. I totally agree. IF they had had this, which they did not, they would have had no issues. We have had no issues traveling with our sons and just a passport card.


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