Sunday, March 22, 2009

Existential questions

Who am I? Where do I live? Where am I resident? Where am I domiciled??

These and other tricky questions were puzzling us while we tried to work out the answer to our first question, in the previous post. Even if we are physically in the US, Mr. Spouse is not a resident (he goes by the lovely phrase "non-resident alien", and I have to remind him to keep the antennae hidden). I think we are actually domiciled in the US at the moment, but normally in the UK, and these things will be important as you'll see in the moment.

In April 2008 the US ratified the Hague Convention and this means that for non-US persons adoption of a US child (and vice versa) should not take place if there's no available parent in country. However, the US considers some citizens who aren't physically present in the US (e.g. military) to be still domiciled and - crucially for us - if you are intending to come back to the US and establish a domicile before any child is 18, you are also a "non-Hague case". This means you can go through the regular US domestic adoption procedures.

However, because we can't stay here long enough to get by without going through UK procedures, and since the UK is also a Hague signatory (I feel so clever bandying these phrases around!), it also matters what the UK thinks: will they accept a family adopting from a Hague country, but through a non-Hague process. At this point we stalled. We found a referral to a UK adoption lawyer in about November and they just kept being Very Very Slow and not answering our questions and then asking us for a lot of money and then not acknowledging that we'd sent the money and we had no idea what was happening. I think this is probably why I had not owned up to all this complicated legal research and the faint hope we had, because it was taking so long and was so tenuous. In fact, at this point I was really thinking "well, the fostering will work, we'll get our home study done PDQ when we get home, how fabulous". And then we got last week's fostering news...

More to follow...

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