March 5, 2009

Finalizing the Finalization, Almost

One day I'm going to stop complaining about paperwork, but today is definitely not that day. I was under the impression that we'd walk away from this Friday's court appointment will all of the evidence in the world that we'd need to move forward immediately with Ash's passport and SSN applications, and that shortly therafter his NY Birth Certificate would arrive in the mail.

Nope. I'm so naive.

I called the County Surrogate Court today to confirm that we'll get the NY Adoption Decree at our court appointment this Friday so that we can then apply for Ash's passport immediately following. I had already spoken to the Passport and Social Security Agencies earlier in the day to confirm all of the forms and paperwork we'll need to have with us to fill out the applications, so this was just the final call to make sure we're covered. The NY Adoption Decree is the one unifying form among all of the applications, it's needed to apply for anything and everything because it will be the only document we have with his new name, currently our papers show Wondemu Michael but after Friday he'll be Ashton Wondemu. She was a very nice woman and I believe had the best of intentions to help me and answer my questions, but here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, I was informed by my lawyer that we'll get the NY Adoption Decree at our court appointment this Friday and am just calling to confirm this is the case because we'd like to apply for our son's passport immediately following the meeting and the decree is necessary for this.

Her: Oh, well we don't do that. The decree is given to your lawyer, but it doesn't say anything about giving it to the parents.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Well, I spoke with the County Clerk's office this morning to confirm the paperwork we need to bring in to apply for his passport and she said that they will need the NY Adoption Decree. How will I be able to provide them with this? Will my lawyer give it to me after the Judge has given it to her?

Her: Well, I can't speak for your lawyer dear, but maybe the Judge will approve creating a second document so that you can apply for his passport, but you'll have to ask the Judge that on Friday and then he'll let me know if I should do this for you. Or maybe we'll just send it directly to the Passport Agency, in a signed sealed envelope.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Well, I spoke with the Social Security Administration as well as they will also need the NY Adoption Decree in order to accept his application for a SSN. Will I be able to retreive the one sent to the Passport Agency so that I can then send it to the SS Agency?

Her: Well, maybe the Judge would be ok with me creating two additional decrees for you instead of just one. Or maybe we'll just send both directly to the two agencies for you. You'll have to ask the Judge on Friday dear, it's all up to him.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Thanks for your help. Click.'s a revised possible road map to the final finalization of our process. Yes, he will still be a US Citizen as of Friday and in theory we'll still be able to apply for his passport on Friday and eventually his SSN, there's just a bit more paperwork and processing involved than I was expecting.

Friday, March 6th: Finalize the adoption in NY Surrogate Court. Maybe get the NY Adoption Decree from the Judge, maybe get it from our lawyer, or maybe have it sent directly to the Passport and SS Agencies. Walk across the hall to the Passport Agency and provide the following to apply for his passport:
*Form DS 11 (application for passport)
*NY Adoption Decree (somehow...)
*ET Adoption Decree (we gave this to the court for the readoption, hopefully they'll give it back to us on Friday)
*ET Passport with IR4 Visa and I-551 Stamp (got this, the I-551 stamp is evidenced on his Visa, which expired in December, but they said that shouldn't matter)
*Express Mail Stamp (so that we get his passport before we leave for Spain in April)

Approximately 2 weeks later we'll get his passport in the mail, and approximately 2-3 weeks later we should get his NY Birth Certificate in the mail (which we don't need to apply for but will be automatically ordered for us by the Judge on Friday).

March 23rd: In theory we'll have his passport and NY Adoption Decree back at this point and will be able to bring them to the Social Security Administration to apply for his SSN. To this appointment we'll bring the following:
*Form SS5 (application for SSN)
*NY Adoption Decree
*US Passport and/or NY Birth Certificate

Then approximately who knows how long later his social security card will arrive in the mail. Hopefully before April 15th so that we can file our taxes with his SSN, but if not we covered our bases and filed for a Tax ID for Ash which would be sufficient for us to file our taxes this year. For this form we had to provide the following:
*Form W-7A (application for Tax ID for Pending Adoptions)
*Copy of ET Passport, IR4 Visa/I-551 Stamp
*Copy of ET Birth Certificate
*Copy of ET Adoption Decree naming us as his parents
(PS, if we do have his SSN by April 15th then our W-7A is invalid and we'll have to update our taxes accordingly so we're not 100% sure if we're going to send in the W-7A until the last minute if it looks like we wont have his SSN in time.)

April 2nd: We leave for Spain, hopefully with his US Passport, probably with his NY Birth Certificate, not yet with his SSN but definitely ready for a vacation.

I imagine this is how he'll look once we've waded through the sea of official documents, paperwork, and forms and we're finally on our way to the airport.


Gamma! said...

Wow! This process is relentless! Besides that, it sounds like a few trees have been fallen in Ashton's honor! We'll be praying it all gets taken care of according to "The Plan" - love you!

Jill said...

Here's what I have to say...FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! What a mess. Hopefully the judge will work in your favor. Mari's final adoption decree (that I did without a lawyer) has been sitting on the judge's desk for 3 weeks waiting on his signature. We don't have to have a court date or anything, just him to take a minute and SIGN IT! Is it really so hard? I'm hoping to have it done before she starts Kindergarten...I may be shooting for the stars!

Happy paper-chasing!

los cazadores said...

I feel like Ashton looks in that pic just from reading everything you've had to go through - MY word!!!

Hope it is all done quickly here on out...


Brooke said...

IT NEVER ENDS!!!!! I swear, it's like a never ending sea of paperwork and things to do, right?

Hope all get's done quickly for you guys.

losiloni said...

Wow, the process in NY is really strict... I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

And Spain!?! That is so wonderful, I am really jealous. My grandparents were from Spain and I have yet to go...

Hope it all works out and you have an amazing trip!

PC said...

Oh Jolene, This makes me laugh, mostly out of frustration but actually because I'm tired, have been working with sales funnels and spreadsheets all day and NONE of it needs to be so complicated. I heard a great piece on MPR this am, we shouldn't cut budgets to handle our budget shortfalls, we should cut paperwork. He much would we save if every agency eliminated one form (most could eliminate 20!)

I'm working the beads and KNOW in my heart of hearts you will walk out with everything you need.

Call me ASAP when it's the end a great news story!!

Love Mom C