...and other misconceptions I made 09-06-28
2009 Jun 28

Archive for the 'adoption-process' Category

March 12th 2010
Addendum: connecting documents

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permanent connection of documentsSeveral people asked me about the “permanent connection” of the documents with their translation that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This is a long standing legal tradition in Germany. In its simplest form you fold over one corner of a stack of documents, put a staple through that folded stack and then attach an official seal in a way that touches all pages and makes it impossible to separate the pages without destroying the seal.

For more important documents (for example when buying a house) this gets even more elaborate with a thread that is run through holes punched through all pages and then secured in place with an impressed seal or even a wax seal. I searched the internet but couldn’t find a good picture. If one of my German readers could provide a picture of a document that has been permanently connected like that, please share and I will post!

Anyway, the idea behind all this is actually pretty smart and makes tampering with documents much harder. Which is why the court insists on this form for the most critical documents.

March 11th 2010
Getting the adoption recognized in Germany

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I am not a lawyer. I strongly suggest that you talk to a lawyer in Germany to verify that this information is correct (and if you are interested, I’ll be more than happy to share the contact information of the lawyer whom we used – she was extremely helpful; just drop me a line or comment below).

Having said all this, here is what we learned.

If you (at least one of the parents) are German and adopted outside of Germany, and the country (or countries) in which you adopted were at that time not part of the Hague Convention, then German authorities are likely to not recognize this adoption until it has been approved by a German court. It appears that there is one single court in charge of dealing with all of these foreign adoptions, the Amtsgericht Schöneberg in Berlin.

What you need to do is to petition the court for the recognition (Anerkennung) of the adoption under German law. In our case the judge asked us for an impressive list of documentation:

  1. A certified copy (validated by an Apostille of the secretary of state of your home state) of the adoption decision, permanently connected with its German translation as provided by a sworn translator (the list of acceptable translators can be obtained from your local German consulate). For those who have re-adopted in the US, you have the choice to have the in-country adoption recognized or the re-adoption in the US (that’s the path that we took).
  2. Birth certificate of the child, validated and translated as explained above. Similarly to above, you can provide either the birth certificate issued in the birth country or the one that was issued in the US after re-adoption (again, that’s what we did).
  3. Homestudy, as created by a certified social worker, prior to the adoption.
  4. Similar information available showing that adoption was the right solution for the situation of the child, done in the home country prior to the adoption. In case of an adoption in China, this information is not available to you as it is part of the confidential CCAA files.
  5. Any information that you have received about the child prior to the adoption, including any medical information that was available.
  6. Any documentation that you can provide about the life of your child from birth till adoption.
  7. Details about the agreement of the biological parents to the adoption – or alternatively official documentation that the child was abandoned.
  8. Proof of the involvement of a adoption agency, including contact information and internet address.
  9. Detailed writeup of the adoption process, the selection of the child (or an explanation of the selection process), including all payments that were made, as sworn statement signed by both parents.
  10. Postplacement reports done by a certified social worker.
  11. Details about the family situation of the parents, including marriage certificate and information about prior marriages.
  12. Copies of the parents’ passports

Of course we didn’t get this as a convenient, consistent list, but instead as a seemingly unending set of questions for more and more information. But once we delivered all this (and waited about three to four months for every iteration in this process) the court decided that the adoption was valid under German law and that therefore the girls are German citizens and will soon receive German birth certificates.

I hope this explanation makes sense and helps some of you through the same process. If you have more questions, please let me know below.

March 9th 2010
Please welcome two new citizens

Posted under adoption-process & family | 8 comments | |

If you are a long time reader, the title of this post may sound familiar – I asked you to “Please welcome two new citizens” in September 2005, when H2 and S2 became US citizens when entering the US on our flight back home from the adoption trip to China.

And naively I thought that it would be pretty straight forward to get them German citizenship. One of the many things I was so horribly wrong about. To be honest, I procrastinated and didn’t start the process until a year and a half later, when in May 2007 after collecting some documentation (based on suggestions from the German consulate and a few officials in Germany that I talked to) I went to San Francisco, thinking I could just apply for German passports for them.

Turned out that this seemingly complicated process to establish the fact that they were already citizens didn’t work. The German government decided that contrary to what I was told by numerous officials along the way, they could not recognize the adoption in China (and the re-adoption in the US). Instead we had to petition the court in Germany to formally accept the adoption as valid based on German law.

When this became clear at the end of 2007 I finally decided to hire a lawyer in Germany and take this through the incredibly slow bureaucratic process.

Fast forward 26 (twenty-six!!!) months and this morning I found email from my lawyer in my inbox. The Amtgerichts Schöneberg has finally decided (after three rounds of finding, collecting and translating various documents that court kept asking for) that H2 and S2 are legally adopted, based on German law, by K2 and me and are therefore German citizens.

I almost had given up hope. And I couldn’t be happier now that it’s over. The process was painful and slow and filled with false hope and false starts and false information (much of which, btw, was given by German officials). But at the end what matters is that the adoption is now formally recognized in the three countries that matter, China, the US and Germany. So the girls are now German-American dual citizens.

May 16th 2007

Posted under adoption-process | 7 comments | |

It’s an interesting concept. I went to the German consulate in San Francisco today in order to get German passports for H2 and S2.

Well, not so fast. First you report their birth to the German government (“Geburtsanzeige”). Once you do that and receive their German birth certificates you can take those and then get German passports. To get there you fill out a form and give them lots of documents. They ask about birth parents. Birth location. Time of birth. Birth order. Sorry – don’t know any of that. I can offer a country of birth. And nationality at birth. I can make an educated guess about the nationality of the birth parents. And I can give you lots of pretty official documents about the nationalities of the parents.

So it turns out that these Chinese-born girls became US citizens the moment we entered the US. But at that point they had already been German citizens – that happened the moment I adopted them in China. What I am doing right now is simply (Ha!) documenting that fact.

So what does it take to do that? Here’s a list:

  • German passport of the parent through whom they obtained German citizenship
  • Passport of the other parent (ideally showing the same last name as all other documents)
  • ID document of the child (in this case: US passport)
  • Marriage certificate (certified copy)
  • Chinese adoption documents (original)
  • Notarized English translation of those documents (original)
  • Notarized German translation of the English translation of those documents (original)
  • US readoption paperwork (not strictly necessary but very useful) (original)
  • Notarized German translation (original)
  • US birth certificate (not strictly necessary but highly recommended) (original)
  • and of course a completed “Geburtsanzeige” – the four page form with lots of fun questions I don’t have answers for

If you make an appointment at the consulate you can bring all the originals and normal copies and they will certify all the copies and return the originals right away. There’s no way I’d do anything else.

Now we wait. The guess of the very nice and helpful (!) official at the consulate: might take a year – maybe a little longer.

So even though the girls have been German citizens for close to 21 months it will take another year or so until they get their German birth certificates which we can then use to get them German passports. Nationality – and interesting concept.

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