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Adoption Finalization: Why Hawaii?

We keep receiving questions about why we went to Hawaii to complete Sianna’s citizenship. I’ve tried to write out the process as we understood it in case anyone should ask again.

Please note that we were under the  i-600a paperwork. We are not familiar with the i-800 process or any Hague requirements.

Why did you go to Hawaii to complete Sianna’s US citizenship?

Our agency has assisted many expat families in international adoption. From them we learned:

  • we could only apply for an expedited citizenship at the original port of entry & not all port of entries offer expedited citizenship – meaning we could only apply for expedited citizenship at the 1st airport we landed in.
  • our agency said that they had families go through LA, New York and Seattle who tried to apply for expedited citizenship, but were not processed for expedited citizenship. Thus, they were all stuck waiting months for the child’s citizenship paper’s to arrive.
  • our agency had no knowledge of any family getting their child’s citizenship documents prior to 4 months of entry into the USA.
  • most families wait 6-8 months to receive their child’s Certificate of Citizenship.
  • from the various ports of entry all documents are transferred to the same Homeland Security office for processing.

The system is fine for families who live in the US. However, for families that need to return to their job or posting abroad, waiting an indefinite 6-8 months is not possible.

We did hear of a family that arrived in Honolulu and went straight to the Federal Building where the US Passport Office is located. By showing their return plane tickets (within 14 days of arrival) and appropriate paperwork, they were able to get a US passport for their adopted child off the IR3 Visa. Once they had the passport in hand, they then applied for the social security card.

Meaning, they got the passport paperwork started at the same time (or just before) they were doing the Certificate of Citizenship paperwork because of the IR3 Visa.

If we wanted to avoid Hawaii, we could have tried this at the Federal Office in Arkansas, but if the Federal Office refused to issue an expedited passport then we would be stuck waiting for the Certificate of Citizenship in order to apply for the passport.

Sure, we could have blazed a new path, but the risk would have been waiting in America for 6-8 months.

Like many expats before us, we went to Hawaii which was efficient, easy and tropical.

5 comments to Adoption Finalization: Why Hawaii?

  • Beth

    It is a confusing mess. I am glad that you were able to get things worked out. We did passports in Philadelphia — landed there and left less than 2 weeks later. We had applied for SS card at the embassy when we were doing paperwork. On my list of things to do is get the COC. I need to move that to the top of the list. He has his passport.

  • Cindy

    I hope that most "questions" were from those JEALOUS, not critical..I love you and what you are doing for others-and to have a short,but also successful trip to Hawaii-YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks for all the explanation. I have tried to post comments at previous times on your different blog entries and my computer messed up so…I just wanted you to know I love keeping up with you all! Wish we could have a playdate too! I am sure the kids would have lots of fun together! By the way…I think you asked at one time how old Nathan is. He is 5 1/2. He will be 6 on December 3. Because we were in the states when he turned 5 and the cutoff date for CA is Dec. 2 we waited to start until this year. 🙂 I am really glad we waited at this point. It gave me some time to start him in the reading area without the formal daily/more structured education. Emily is doing some school with us this year, but she will turn 5 next August and we will officially start kindergarten then. Not sure if that was way too much information, but there you have it! 🙂 Blessings to you all!

  • Ashlee

    This is SO helpful! I am an American expat and we are adopting from Africa and facing a similar dilemma. How long were you in Hawaii before being able to depart? Did you have a full adoption or guardianship (we will have a guardianship, what our country grants, making the process even more complicated….). Thanks again for any advice you can offer!

    • Hi Ashlee! We were in Hawaii for 2 weeks, but most of that was for a much needed family vacation. The Homeland Security Office had everything processed and completed in 48 hours. They know exactly what they are doing. Of course, we had our appointment set up ahead of time and plenty of copies of everything so there was nothing slowing us down. In the China process, we have completed the adoption. China saw her as fully our daughter. We were only naturalizing her US citizenship. Hope this helps. We do have expat friends who have completed the process from Ethopia. I don’t know if this is the same country you are adopting from. Let me know if I can help you in any way!

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