If I adopt internationally, will my child automatically be a US citizen?
If YOU or your spouse are US citizens, yes. Interestingly, it hasn’t always been this way. When we adopted Zaphod, you still had to go through the naturalization process after the adoption was final. The agency warned us time and again, if you don’t do this, your son could be drafted into the South Korean army! By the way, it was at the INS office in Memphis, when we were finalizing Zaphod’s naturalization, that we had to deal with what had to be the most humorless person we had ever met. Maybe since the reorganization it’s gotten better, but the bureaucracy and lack of compassion at that office was horrible. Anyway, since the passing of the Child Citizen Act of 2000, US citizenship is bestowed automatically upon finalization of the adoption.
What happens after all the paperwork and Homestudy is complete?
You wait. This is the absolute hardest part of the whole process. You can bide you time furnishing a baby’s room, but unless you’ve requested a specific gender (thus making your wait even longer), you can’t get too gender-specific with what you buy. You WILL be tempted to call your social worker about 20 times a day during this period, please try to avoid this. The call will come.
I got out “the papers” this morning. The best I can tell, we called Heaven Sent Children in May or June of 1996. We did all the administrative stuff for quite a few months. Believe, me, during this time, you’re not “waiting” at all. It looks like we started “waiting” about September of 1996. We got “the call” on December 31, 1996. BTW, Zaphod was Born in late October 1996.
As soon as we got the call, a few things happened. We got some basic medical info, and, lo and behold, we got a picture! This made the next few months bearable. I don’t know what it’s like with other programs, but as soon as Zaphod was “placed”, they moved him from the orphanage to a foster family. It’s obvious, this family loved our son. They sent us pictures every few weeks, and when he finally came home, he was accompanied by many Korean culture-specific gifts, some of them obviously quite expensive. One day, I hope Zaphod can travel to meet this wonderful family.
What happens after “the call”?
OK, here I’m going to have to get Korea-specific, because Korea is the only country that allows the child to come to the US without the adoptive parents first traveling to their country. I won’t get into all the reasons, but we went the “delivery” route, as opposed to “pick up”. Anyway, at this point, you’ve got another wait. But this one is better, because there is a specific baby out there, one you know the gender of, one you’ve probably already named. Of course, you have in the back of your mind all the things that could go wrong, but you keep yourself busy buying baby stuff. If you choose to go the “delivery” route, as we did, they’ll give you about a week’s notice before your baby comes home.
Now, things are different than they were when my children came home. 9/11 happened. I have no doubt that you and your family can no longer wait at the terminal for your child to come off the plane. But that’s OK. Just gather everybody where you’re allowed. Nobody will mind. For that day, you’re a celebrity. All passers-by want to see your magical moment.
And magical it will be.
More next time…