We have been home with our sweet Ethiopian daughters for ten years. Our oldest is fourteen and eager to drive. She had been taking those Department of Transportation (DOT) practice tests online for weeks before she was brave enough to go to the DOT and take her driver’s permit test.


My husband, who is much more organized than I am, has all of our adoption paperwork in a three ring binder with tabs and labels. I brought the entire binder with us to the DOT.  This child has more documentation of who she is than any of the four children who were born to us. We had her Ethiopian birth certificate and her US certificate of foreign birth. We had a copy of her permanent residence card, and a US adoption decree.  We had a social security card and baptismal records. The thing they wanted was the Certificate of Citizenship (COC).


In December, after ten years, we gathered all of our paperwork and sent it to Homeland Security with the requisite check.  We have known this paperwork was necessary for years, but we just kept putting it off. It seemed as if the paperwork hassle was too much, and there was always something else to spend that money on.  However, our ID hassle at the DOT confirmed that it was time to get this done.


Our girls need a COC because we traveled to Ethiopia and brought them home on the same trip. If you went to your child’s home country once to begin the process and then another time to bring your child home, you may not need a COC.


Completing our post adoption paperwork is so difficult. It feels like we should be finished with paperwork! I don’t like the giant fee attached to the COC. I don’t like answering all of the silly questions, like:


What was the adoptive mother’s address when you adopted? What was the adoptive mother’s spouse’s address when you adopted? What was the father’s address when you adopted? What was the adoptive father’s spouse’s address when you adopted?


My husband and I laughed aloud when we realized all four of those addresses were the same. The very next page asks the same questions about where all of those people live now.  For us it’s our address times four once again.


The paperwork feels silly and unnecessary. However, I know that adoptive parents must take the time to do this for our children. This burden should be ours to bear and it is so important for their future.


Here are two links you might find helpful. The first one is a link to the Department of Homeland Security page. It links to the COC document: https://www.uscis.gov/n-600


This link is a summary of post-adoption paperwork for all adoptive familes:  https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Post-Adoption-Paperwork.pdf


By the way, there is a new 14 year-old driver on the road up in this corner of the world. Look out! She passed her test on the first try and is eager to hop behind the wheel.