Sunday, May 18, 2008

The citizenship process...

Alexandra's passport photo! 5 min with the eyes open, we had to work fast!

Having a baby in countries other than the US is very interesting for a number of reasons. The interesting process we are going thru right now is getting Alexandra declared a legal citizen somewhere in the world. Unlike in the US, Germany doesn't automatically give citizenship to any child born within its borders (France is the same way - I wonder if it is all Euro countries?). Alexandra would have to attend school in Germany for a certain number of years, and then we could apply, but there are language requirements, and all kinds of other legal issues that we don't want to have to deal with. So she is not, and probably will never be, a German.

However, she isn't an American yet either, as we have to claim her to the US Consulate here in Munich, and fill out all kinds of wonderful paper work & submit that with the "proper" German birth certificate.

In order to get the birth certificate Troy & I presented ourselves, and Alexandra, to the public building last week. Luckily all of our paperwork (passports, marriage certificate, Sophia's birth certificate) were all in english so we didn't have to provide an official translation into German for everything, but the marriage certificate could have been a bit of a sticking point.

In Europe there is a true separation of church & state when it comes to marriages. Civil ceremonies are the "official" unions, and often take place at the town hall or justice center. The Church ceremony is not often on the same day, and the certificate from this wedding is never used as an official document. Troy & I were married in the Catholic church (followed by the best party ever), and our Marriage Certificate was filled out in beautiful handwriting by our priest. The official copy that we have is a xerox copy with a stamp from King County at the bottom, not very official looking. To add to the confusion, there are 2 dates on the certificate; the date we were married & the date that we picked up the certificate from the licensing office. You always know trouble is about when all of a sudden you have extra people on hand to analyze your documents. Luckily I was able to explain what a "waiting period" is, and the difference between the dates. Even more lucky, the agent accepted my [halting german] explanation. We walked out with 3 different kinds of birth certificates for Alexandra: the German birth certificate, the German certificate required by the US government, and the International birth certificate - which has all of the parts translated into about 10 different languages including Greek!

We now have an appointment on Monday to declare Alexandra to the US, and try to make her legal!

In the meantime life at home just keeps moving on. We finally gave Alexandra her first bath, and she is going to be another swimmer like her sister! Although she looks a bit stiff in this photo, she loved the water, her legs were unfolded and she just floated... I can't wait to get her in the pool here!No more baby acne!! Its been tough because we want to take all the photos of her, but the acne was pretty severe. People would come up to look at her in the stroller & say "oh, what a tiny baby - Oh... You must be very proud" It is nice she doesn't look like she was left in the sun too long anymore.


The LancLemps said...

Congratulations! And be ready for fun at the US Consulate too. For Constance in Paris we had to bring her in person, along with reams of documentation and then be quizzed about American life by a kid who couldn't have been more than 24 (probably his first foreign service posting), in order to prove that I really grew up in the US (Americans who are born and raised overseas don't always get to pass on citizenship automatically). I "passed", in part due to my knowledge of 1980s sitcoms. :-)

Rose Green said...

Hi, and congratulations! I ran across your blog while looking for stuff on infant passports (US) for a baby born in Germany. Just wondering if the passport has come in yet, and if so, how long it took? We're American, we've lived off and on in Germany for work/study, and I'm due next month. We had a baby here eight years ago, and back then, Dad could just take the birth certificate and a photo down to the consulate in Munich, and he came home with a passport, the certificate of American birth abroad, etc., all in one day. They've just changed the rules, and as you know, everyone's got to show up now, plus they only process the passports in the US! And we have to be back in the States by mid-August (job, plus our visa expires here). So--how fast are these passports coming in, in your experience? Should we panic and ask for the expedited version, or is it pretty timely?