It has been almost 3 years since we adopted Corazon. It has been 1.8 years since we finalized on Tortuga and Pollito. In that time we have made 4 attempts to get s*cial sec*rity cards for them and failed each time due to some "small" logistical problem like a missing form in triplicate or a notarized original copy of an original copy of an original copy. It has been a frustrating process and one that is easy to move to the back burner when waiting in line for hours only to be turned away empty-handed with four kids in tow is just not my idea of fun. Our attempts to secure the cards when we moved to Texas were unsuccessful because all of our documentation is Massachusetts based AND they get stumped on the two moms thing. I have their "old" social security numbers but not the cards and when we adopted them we were told we needed to get new ones for them especially since two of those numbers were being used by others out there to secure employment and for tax purposes.
So C. is back in MA today so I sent her "armed" with all the originals of everything she needed to get the new cards. She has birth certificates (originals and adoptive ones), original adoption decrees with seals (two for Corazon since she went through the adoption process TWICE with us), proof of her identity (drivers' license, birth certificate and passport) and all the required forms. She had a two hour window this morning before her meetings to stand in line and try to do this deed once and for all. After 1 1/2 hours of trying she calls me to say they won't let her get the cards without the kids' state health insurance cards or a letter from their physician to verify their identities. They suggest she go home and get the cards and return tomorrow. What???? Their state health cards have their names and membership numbers. There are no birth dates, parents' names, etc. which according to the instructions for securing a new card are required to show child's identity. The only mention of health records/letter from physician is in cases where there is no other proof of identity. We have adoption decrees.
After re-reading the online instructions and my notes from the latest conversation with their offices a week ago I send her back in to try again as I hold on the phone. Here are some snippets of the conversation between C. and those lovely gatekeepers. She reads their own instructions to them which I had so anally put a copy of in the packet of info she was carrying. It requires 3 supervisors to indeed check that those are the directions they have. They acquiesce and agree to allow her to apply for cards with the existing documentation.
They begin quizzing C.--kids' names? ages? Where were kids born? No, they were not international adoptions. No, they don't have passports. Birth dates for each of the kids in chronological order? Adoption dates in chronological order but start with oldest child? C. says we didn't adopt them in birth order. They are stumped. Aren't they siblings? YES, through adoption. But their original last names are the same. Yes. a coincidence that they all share one of the MOST common Spanish surnames. Is she sure they aren't related???? (I was practically howling on the other end of the phone at this point.) Yes, she is as sure as the social services people were. They have different birth moms and birth dad so we are pretty certain. It continues. We adopted the 9 year old first in 2006. The woman says "9 year old? I thought she was 7!" C. replies "She was 7 when we started this process!!!" Ok. Back to the oldest. When was he adopted? Courtney pauses a long pause. The woman chimes in "you DON'T remember when he was adopted?" C. says she is trying to get all the dates straight. I know she is weighing telling them "you see, I had the traumatic brain injury a few years ago and I struggle with remembering dates..." but realizes that wouldn't go over too well. They continue. The woman asks "Does he know he is adopted?" She replies that he does and the supervisor chimes in that he CANNOT get a new social security card if he knows he is adopted! What??????? Then she suggests that since he was almost 8 when he was adopted perhaps he knows where his card is? C. says "Uhm. No. He has special needs and can't remember his address and phone number so I am pretty sure he doesn't know where it is." She asks: "Did you check all his stuff when he came to you?" C. calmly replies "um, yes we checked both garbage bags pretty thoroughly." The woman doesn't give up. Maybe his birth mother has it or knows where it is? If she has other kids maybe she has it with theirs. (I am not kidding! She really said this! I had been quiet on the other end of the line this whole time but at this point I am about to start screaming.) C. replies "Sure, why don't you give her a call? We spend lots of time trying to track her down and find out where she is because she moves alot. But by all means why don't you try." They move on and the woman asks about his original middle name. He didn't have one. "Oh. So you gave him a new middle name?" Yes. She tells C. she needs to verify this new identity because of the name change with his doctor and get that physician's letter from the health clinic we used in MA. C. loses it and they go back to square one and the adoption decree which has both his old and new name and is supposed to prove identity. She then lit into the woman about how a doctor who sees the kids once or twice a year and doesn't even remember their names at a health center who cannot find their records every time we go is somehow more credible than adoption decrees and government issued birth certificates to verify his identity. Then she bursts into tears (which C. doesn't do easily.) The supervisor steps in and agrees the adoption decree is acceptable BECAUSE we aren't getting a new number since we can't get a new number because he knows he is adopted!
It continues this way as they move to the other two kids. Then the woman notices C. hasn't filled in the sections for mother's name/social s*curity # and father's name/social s*curity # on the forms she has. C. explains that we are two moms and she wasn't sure where her name should go. Woman says "two moms aren't a problem here." C. says "ok but the form still asks for mother and father so where do I put my information?" Woman checks forms and agrees my info goes on mother's line because that's where it is on all the other documentation. Where does C.'s go? Calls another supervisor since these are federal databases and unlike MA forms which usually say something like "parent 1/parent 2" the federal forms use "mother/father." Is C. ok with being listed in the father's slot in the database? YES! The woman enters C.'s first, middle, and one of her last names (we share a surname). C. corrects her. Woman argues that she has to use the name she has on her social s*curity card (which is the only document she didn't bring with her.) C. says her new name is on her card. Woman tells her she should have brought it with her to which C. replies that given the incredible value of this card it is secured in our family safe at home and she was afraid to travel on public transportation in the big city with it. (I almost spit out my coffee on my end of the line.) C. points out that since they are in the social s*curity office and those are the social s*curity office databases in front of her can't she just look her up???? They proceed and the woman gives C. a printout to check the information for accuracy. C. reads it to me on the phone. Under "father's name" it says "C. middle name, last name-last name, JR." C. says "YEP, looks good!" She wasn't taking any more chances on trying to correct anything. We hung up and she called me back a couple of minutes later to say the deed was done. She was now their father according to the SS office and a JR. to boot! We just had to laugh!
So now we wait for them to verify all the info and mail us a receipt within two weeks to our MA address (good thing we still have that house!) It took her over three hours to get this far and it's the farthest we have ever gotten in this process. My confidence in our government processes has increased dramatically. Did I mention that I can't get a replacement card since my identity was stolen 15 years because two other individuals have managed to "prove" they are me and get new cards in two different states but I cannot "prove" to them that I am who I say I am so I don't have a card. I am not kidding folks I couldn't make this up if I tried.
On another note. Yesterday I took the kids to the library which is a big treat for them all. I decided to pick out a book for me which is always a challenge with all the kids in tow. I got them all situated in separate areas and took Milagro with me. We were in one of the aisles and suddenly Milagro SCREAMS at the top of her lungs "Mom! Pee coming! Mom! I peeing in my diaper! I peeing in my diaper!" and opens her legs wide and points. I told her that was great as I buried my head in the stacks. Several people peered around the corner of the aisles to check it out. A minute or so later she SCREAMS "I finished peeing in my diaper! Mom! Mom! I finished peeing in my diaper!" To which several people in the aisle applauded.