Now That You're Home
This page is to inform you of a few details you may need to complete the paperwork for your child, but first, take time to enjoy your child during this transitional period. You must then take steps to complete your child’s state birth certificate and Social Security application process (and U.S. citizenship if applicable). It is very important to complete these steps within one year of coming home. These steps will provide you the necessary documentation for your child’s future.
After the adoption in Ethiopia, your child’s name will change to:
First Name - Birth First Name
Middle Name - Adoptive father’s first name (or adoptive mother’s first name if single parent)
Last Name - Adoptive Father’s Last Name (or adoptive mother’s last name if single parent)
There is no way to change the child’s name to anything else while in Ethiopia. When you arrive home from Ethiopia, you will find a letter (the information is below as well, in case you do not want to wait for the letter) from us outlining what you will need to do to change the child’s name, get the Social Security number, Certificate of Citizenship, etc. Make sure you start this right away once you get home, as each step takes a while! Michigan does not require re-adoption, but if you reside outside of Michigan, you may want to check with your home study agency now to see if re-adoption is required in your state.
First, we need you to immediately send a photocopy to Adoption Associates of: the Final Adoption Decree (a.k.a. Court Document with “verdict” stated on it). It is a state licensing requirement that we have this in our files.
Second, if you haven’t already, make an appointment for a thorough physical exam for your child with your physician. For all children, regardless of age or country of origin, the following testing is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Complete history and physical, including developmental examination, and vision and hearing testing
- Complete blood count with erythrocyte indices
- TSH screening, Chinese & Russian adopters
- Ionized calcium level
- Rapid plasma reagin (RPR) or VDLR for Syphilis
- Hepatitis B profile, including assays for HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs
- Hepatitis C antibody
- Lead levels
- Mantoux (intradermal PPD) test with candida control
- Diphtheria & tetanus antibody testing, if low, or if child received fewer than 3 DPT vaccines, begin complete AAP immunization sequence
- Complete STD screening, if risk factors present
- HIV-1 and HIV-2 by ELIZA and by PCR
- Stool cultures for Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia & Campylobacter, if symptomatic
- Stool examination for ova & parasites
In addition, because of the CDC’s warning on Hepatitis A, testing the child for Hepatitis A may be a good idea.
Another excellent resource for a listing of recommended testing is: http://www.orphandoctor.com/services/postadopteval/tests_evals.html from Dr. Jane Aronson’s website.
If you and your physician have special concerns or your child has some unusual medical condition you may contact:
Dr. Mary Allen Staat
Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati
3333 Burnet Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039
How to obtain a new birth certificate, Social Security number and proof of citizenship
Click here to find helpful information from the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Most children adopted from Ethiopia will arrive on an IR-3 Visa, meaning both parents (or single parent) traveled to Ethiopia and saw the child before the adoption was finalized. The USCIS will mail you a Certificate of Citizenship within 45 days of the child’s arrival in the U.S. After receiving it, you will follow Steps 1 & 2 below.
If your child arrived home on an IR-4 visa, both parents did not see the child before the adoption was completed. Children who arrive in the U.S. on an IR-4 visa will automatically receive their permanent resident alien card, generally within 45 days from their date of arrival in the U.S. The permanent resident alien card will contain the child’s A# or Alien Number:
Step 1. Note that Michigan families are not required to re-adopt the child in the U.S.; if you are from another state, please speak with your home study provider to determine if you need to re-adopt the child in your state, how to obtain a new birth certificate, and how to change the child’s name, if applicable.
For Michigan Families with children who arrived home on IR-4 visa: you will first want to obtain the child’s birth certificate. Contact your local county probate court (circuit court if you reside in Wayne County, Michigan call 313-833-1880) and request two forms to apply for the child’s new state birth certificate and to change the child’s name and/or age – the Application to Establish Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth and the Motion and Order for Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth.
Step 2. After you receive the child’s new birth certificate with name change (if applicable), you will need to apply for the Social Security number. To apply for the child’s Social Security number, you can contact your local Social Security office (Michigan residents - 1-800-772-1213)
Step 3. You will now need to apply for the child’s Certificate of Citizenship. This is very important, as you will have no proof that the child is a U.S. Citizen without it. Note that it can, at times, take a year or more to receive the Certificate of Citizenship after applying for it, so please do this as soon as possible. In order to obtain the Certificate of Citizenship you will need to file the N-600 with the USCIS. You can download the N-600 form from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Please follow the instructions noted on the N-600 when filing.
Step 4. Once you have received the child’s Certificate of Citizenship, you must go back to the Social Security office with the Certificate of Citizenship, so that you can change the child’s status. When you obtained the previous Social Security number, the child status was as a permanent resident alien. You must now have the office change it to U.S. Citizen. This is extremely important for the child’s future, as when they get older, they may not receive Social Security benefits, etc. if their status is not changed to U.S. Citizen.
Note: some adoptive parents have been successful in obtaining their child’s U.S. Passport before obtaining the Certificate of Citizenship. BUT, you must be willing to send the passport office all of your original documents (they return them to you, but it can be risky to mail out your only originals!). Sometimes the U.S. Passport Office will not accept the child’s Ethiopian documents; in this case, adoptive families will need to wait to obtain the child’s Certificate of Citizenship before they can apply for the child’s U.S. Passport. As a result, it may be best to put off international travel until you are able to get the Certificate of Citizenship and then the U.S. Passport.
If name/age on the child’s Certificate of Citizenship and the name/age on the new state birth certificate are different, you will also want to change the child’s name/age on the Certificate of Citizenship. You will need to file form N-565 with the USCIS. The form can be found on their website at www.uscis.gov.
It is best to direct all questions to the appropriate above agencies as they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.
Post adoption reports:
Finally, in order to promote good will with the international courts and help children who remain behind, it is vital that you cooperate with the caseworker when contacted. You cannot imagine the impact these reports have on inter-country adoption. It is very important to complete these reports and submit them on or before the due date. By not doing so, future adoptions from Ethiopia are being put to risk. A visit with your social worker is required at 3 months and 12 months after you come home. Your social worker will complete these two reports. In addition to this, self-reports are required at six months, and annually until your child is eighteen years old. You will be instructed on how and when to complete these reports.
Post Adoption Depression, or Difficulties Transitioning:
There is a possibility that you, as an adoptive parent, may have difficulties adjusting to the child who has just joined your family. This is completely normal. It is normal for it to take time for your love for the child to form and grow. If you are having difficulties, please contact us or your home study caseworker to talk about them, or talk with other families who have been in the same situation. We can link you up with these families if you would like. Please don’t go through this alone.
The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption by Karen J. Foli