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2008-03-16 - 11:45 p.m.

...A tale of three citizenships...

Wow, what a weekend. I got a tad bit overwhelmed by action items, and frustrated that it took me four days to get through a short list of things to do. But slowly but surely, I've been able to write the three letters of recommendation that I needed to write before tomorrow morning. Susi is sleeping (snoring) on a pillow in the bed next to me and we are listening to a lovely lullaby CD - a present from a friend with twins. (It's one of the few children's music CDs that doesn't make me want to wretch, and it does seem to relax her.)

I'm taking a few minutes to type while concurrently downloading oogabs of tax preparation software. Yes, boys and girls, it's that time again. Multi-country tax filing. On top of that K and I are fighting the uphill battle of paperwork known as "Having a baby with three citizenships." We've gotten the paperwork out for Canada, and the most amusing part of that rigamarole was getting Susi's passport photo. Yes, we had to get a passport photo for a two-week-old baby. Even better, we had to dress her in dark colors, hold her head up without hands being seen, her eyes had to be open, and her mouth had to be "in a neutral position." YEAH. Her head had to be between 31-38 mm on the photo. Amazingly enough, we were able to achieve all these conditions.

NOTE: you know how everyone looks butt ugly in their passport photo? Babies are no exception. Susi has no neck in the photo. It's true. She looks like a baby linebacker. Fortunately, there are no stipulations about the presence or absence of necks in Canadian passport regulations. So we're golden. I hope.

We sent the passport photo off to my department head, who had to swear that he had known Susi for more than two years (err, or in this case, he had known the parents for more than two years), and that the photo was a true likeness of Baby Susi. Ya know, this photograph could be of any ol' neckless baby. But my department head is a good egg. He signed the paperwork (and in truth, he has seen the babe, so we are goin' somewhat by the book here).

And so off went the paperwork. She's on her way to having a Social Insurance Number and a passport. I just need to get her Care Card. Susi's almost a real person in this country. Next stop: bank account and education investment funds. Oh no. We have to deal with Canadian banks again. Lord please have mercy.

Country #2 is Deutschland. And, as per usual, we are filling out an entirely new and different set of paperwork. For some reason, it is vitally important that they have an internationally notarized copy of our marriage certificate (because as you know, without the marriage certificate, conception could never occur.) That turned out to be not such a big deal. In fact, the whole process at the German consulate was pretty simple. Oh, there were little weirdnesses, such as the half-assed effort to search us for weapons of mass destruction as we entered the consulate rooms. Here we were, three people and a baby, in a tiny little office on the Xth floor of an office building downtown being searched by a security guard with a little pot belly who looked like he might be semi-retired. I'm guessing that consulate security might be more intense in places other than funcouver. But, oh well, whatever makes them feel safe...

The only incident in this case was the whole German Name Law thing. You see, Susi has four names: a first name, two middle names, and a last name. Her second middle is my family name. Her last name is K's family name. But we have a small definition problem here - because there are no "middle names" in Germany. There are only "first names" and "last names." So her first two names count as acceptable "first names." Her second middle name - which is my family name - is unacceptable because it is not a "first name," and therefore will not be included in her passport. No matter how many times this is explained to me, there is no getting around my thinking that dictating what you can name your child is ridiculous and fascist. It's not like we are calling the child "BOZO." We are including her family names so that her heritage is part of her name.

But it's a battle that is not worth my energy. It WAS, however, worthy of my letting the poor clerks know that I think that the German Name Law is downright stupid, although I had no intention of creating trouble for them apart from telling them what I thought. K, however, made several queries about how we might actually get Susi's full name on the passport. Much discussion ensued, but all for naught - the only way to get her full name listed was to go to court in Berlin to petition changing her last name so that it is a double name that reflects both of our names. Apparently this process could take two years. YEAH, RIGHT. In the end, Susi's correct name will be listed on both her Canadian and US passports, and she will be informed of the intricacies of German Name Law that prevented her complete name from being included in her third country of origin.

K and I are now awaiting our visit to the US consulate in the next month, and are anticipating a story. According to the website, we will be able to apply for her US birth certificate, her social security number, and her US passport all in one shot. The paperwork was all online, downloadable, and pretty straightforward. Now is that amazing, or what? Folks, I have way too much experience with this kind of stuff to believe that it will be that simple. We are all waiting for this bureaucratic story to unfold...

But in the end, if we really pull this off, Susi will benefit from citizenship in three major economies in the world. Our hope is that she will be able to get jobs in many many places. And if we ever try to explain to her the amount of paperwork we filed to make it this way? It'll be like explaining to her that we used to walk three miles barefoot to school in six feet of snow uphill both ways.

(NOTE: I used to walk 3/4 of a mile to catch a school bus, in sub-zero weather, occasionally in a foot of snow..there was a hill, too. Luckily I had shoes.)

All right, so, I still have gotten to the story of the sofa. Or a discussion of our recent adventures with the funcouver real estate market. Or, adventures in crib-shopping. But Eegads, it's past midnight now. Maybe some other time.

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