Elvie is laughing because the footnotes are as long as this post.
On Monday morning we've got to be at the courthouse by 9am to get a US birth certificate for Elvie. I'm a bit miffed about it, actually. It's hard for us to get everyone up and out the door to arrive more than halfway across the city by then. I'm not impressed that the State of California would like to waste our time and the judge's on something that could be a clerical process, as it is in other states.
Elvie entered the US on an IR-3 visa, meaning that she was a US citizen upon arrival in the United States, and that the Department of State recognizes us as her legal parents and does not require re-adoption. The State of California, however, will not issue a birth certificate without re-adoption, which includes submitting reams of paperwork and an expensive report written by a social worker. Because of course it does. If it could cost $470 for a family to obtain a US birth certificate for their child, why make it a purely clerical process that costs $15*?
So despite the fact that she is recognized by everyone else as our daughter**, a clerk at the courthouse still said to me last week when I turned in the rest of the paperwork, "And hopefully the judge will say yes, and then she'll be adopted!" I tried to explain briefly that, no, she's already adopted, we just need the birth certificate, and your state is weird, man, what with the budget issues but still requiring time and money to be spent on this nonsense, but he just nodded at me like I was some sad, confused child and said, "If the judge says yes, then she'll officially be your daughter. Don't worry! It will probably be fine!" It was then that my head exploded, and that's why you never see any photos of me on this blog.
I considered skipping the re-adoption altogether when I found out about the cost and time investment of the process, but in the end I feel that it's important for Elvie to have a US birth certificate***, not to mention that we want her name officially changed****. So to the courthouse we will go, and then I'll write my state representative a letter.
*$15 is how much it cost to obtain a birth certificate for Zinashi in Missouri, where they fully recognize foreign adoption decrees for children who have entered on an IR-3 visa.
**By which I mean the United States of America and our insurance, which are the two entities that truly matter as far as her life right now is concerned.
***There have been incidences of adults, adopted internationally as children, whose adoptions were not properly finalized in the US, being deported. This is in the case in which they were issued a green card and not a Certificate of Citizenship, but I don't want to take any chances. Once we have the new birth certificate, we will also be sending both girls' documents off to have their names changed on their Certificates of Citizenship so that their names on all the US-issued documents match. I don't want to talk about how much that will cost or how long it takes, but per child is it less than we must spend on re-adoption in the State of California.
****According to Ethiopian custom, the name on the adoption decree issued in Ethiopia, and thus on the new Ethiopian birth certificate and passport, is the child's given first name, followed by the adoptive father's name. Thus Elvie's middle name is Jarod and last name is McBride. We chose a middle name for her, and surprise! It's not Jarod!