Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Paperwork Continues

Today I kept thinking about how I could have greatly benefited from a full-time secretary through Gabriella's adoption process! I would never have guessed how frustrating all of the paperwork is and how much work it takes to get it all done - the pre-adoption paperwork, now the post-adoption paperwork, and then the ongoing "maintenance" of it. By maintenance, I mean keeping track of it and keeping it safe. At the same time, I wonder how much of this paperwork stress is real and how much of it is self-induced! I am completely paranoid about making sure all of the adoption paperwork (pre and post) has all t's crossed and i's dotted. The stress is induced by the sad truth that this is all I have legally to prove that Gabriella is my daughter, whereas biological parents have DNA. Realistically, this should never come in to question, but it still concerns me. This probably stems from my fear of Gabriella being ripped away from me while she was in my custody during my visit trips in Guatemala. Some attorneys in Guatemala would not allow adoptive parents to leave the hotels with their baby during their visits. There were stories (how true they were, I have no idea) of even foster parents being out with their foster child, the taxi they were riding in with the baby being stopped, the foster family being asked to provide paperwork on-the-spot showing proper custody, and when they could not show it, the babies being ripped away and taken into custody. The thought of this caused knots in my stomach, not only for when I visited, but for the remainder of the time Gabriella was in Guatemala and with her foster family. A part of the fear also stems from our current state of affairs with Hispanics in the Unites States. As we all know, the situation is not extremely amicable and, sadly, I am afraid that as Gabriella gets older the situation may get worse. Her "paperwork" may become completely necessary to prove citizenship, or the like. These fears surface for me in present day, mainly when I am traveling though an airport with Gabriella. Realistically, I do not believe I have to carry identification for Gabriella to travel domestically. Also, what are the chances somebody would randomly question my maternity? And what right would anybody have in doing so anyway? But, my fear, founded or unfounded, is still real and this causes me to be insanely diligent with all of her paperwork. God bless families that complete multiple international adoptions, especially back-to-back ones. Keeping track of the paperwork must be a nightmare.

In the middle of December I received Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate which basically legally recognizes Gabriella's adoption in Massachusetts and the United States. It also contained her legal name change from Astrid Mariela Draper to Gabriella Astrid Draper. With the holidays (and a bit of laziness), I had not began updating all of her name changes (i.e. Social Security, Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance), and it has been a heavy weight on my head. So, last night I went searching for all of the forms online that I needed and officially started the process. This morning, I took Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to the Social Security office and, after a long wait (specifically, two long waits because the first wait was too long and I had to leave for another appointment), her name was officially changed with Social Security and we will have her new card within two weeks.

The next three name changes (Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance) will be more "difficult" because there is no physical office that I can carry Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to. I also knew that I had to somehow get what I thought was Gabriella's Massachusetts birth certificate. This is where I was mistaken and, luckily, I had called my county's Probate Court and then the Vital Records office in Boston for clarification on procedure. What I did not know is that Gabriella will never have a US birth certificate (which makes sense since she was not born here, but I thought that this was the result of a Massachusetts readoption). She could only potentially get a Massachusetts birth "record" which is NOT an official document like a birth certificate. I was told, "the birth record looks pretty, but is not a legal document." What I was holding in my hand, the Massachusetts adoption certificate, was THE document. AND, making matters more nerve-wracking for me is that we can NEVER get another true, official copy of it from the courts since adoptions are sealed. I can get unofficial copies, but if the copy I have is ever lost, stolen, in a fire, etc. we are essentially "out of luck." UGHHH. Worse yet, is that in order to get a birth record, I would have to FOREVER SURRENDER and FORFEIT this only official document that we will ever have. Nobody ever told me this until I learned of it, by chance, today. The town clerk in my town office did not even know this and if I had simply handed the adoption certificate over, without warning, for a birth record, we would never be able to get it back. I know we are only talking paperwork, but this is some of the most important paperwork that legally ties Gabriella and I together. I was told that the town clerk would be able to give me "true and attested" copies of the original. Once I receive them, the actual copy is going to be locked away in a bank safe deposit box with her other two documents that we will only ever get one of, her Guatemalan adoption paperwork with her Guatemalan birth certificate and her Certificate of Citizenship, the only document that proves her citizenship. Where, you may ask, is her adoption certificate at this present moment? In my town clerk's office while I am waiting for the "true and attested" copies. It is NOT in my possession which is making me insane!

During all of these "festivities" today, Gabriella was at my mother's day care. Since I have been out of work, Gabriella has been staying home with me because I am trying to take advantage of this time with her knowing that this time will not last forever, that I will be going back to work and she will be going back to daycare, and that we will probably never have this opportunity again. Gabriella loves playing with her friends at school and had a fun time today. BUT, she doesn't listen to her teachers and even talks back a bit! For example, if the teacher calls her to do something, she won't do as she is asked and she may even answer back with a firm, "No!" I sense that I have my work cut out for me! After I picked her up, we went into the infant room at the day care to play with some of the babies. Gabriella LOVES babies. She gently rubs their heads and backs, brings them toys, and observes their behaviors. Today, for the first time, we let her "hold" two of the babies and she was as proud as could be! Seeing Gabriella interact with the babies really made me realize how much she has already grown and made me realize that she definitely isn't a baby anymore. Time is flying and I wish I could get it to slow down!

No comments:

Post a Comment