Friday, December 20, 2013

(Not) Born in the U.S.A.

When we decided to stay in Scotland to have Forest, some of the most frequently asked questions from family and friends were regarding his citizenship. Mainly, would he be a citizen of the United Kingdom? The United States? Both? Can he run for President? Prime Minister? Neither? Both? 
The citizenship laws in Britain are very different from those in the US. Just because a baby is born on British soil doesn’t automatically make him a citizen of the United Kingdom. A child must be born to at least one British parent or to parents with permanent residency in the UK to be considered for citizenship. Since Jonathan and I are living here under a temporary 3-year work visa, that means that Forest, sadly, doesn’t qualify.   

But, because he was born to two US citizens, he is automatically a citizen to the greatest nation on Earth (Land of the free, home of the Super-Target). It’s not that simple though. Because he wasn’t born in the US, he wasn’t automatically registered as a live birth. Therefore, we had to register his birth with the US consulate in Edinburgh in order to get a birth record, passport, and social security number. He has a Scottish birth certificate and a US ‘Consular Report of Birth Abroad’ declaring him a foreign-born citizen of the USofA. 
While we were applying for his record of birth, we also applied for his U.S. Passport. Getting official passport photos of a 2 week old is quite a challenge, and we ended up having to go to two separate places before we succeeded in getting an acceptable image. This is the shot that will be in his passport for the next 5 years:
I was about the same age when I got my first passport, since I was born into an ex-pat family as well. It’s kind of cool to pass that legacy on to Forest, and to start his life as a world traveler at such a young age. I’m definitely not looking forward to that first trans-Atlantic plane ride though. Yikes!

As far as the running for president question…no, Forest can never run for president. I think it’s a sad law. When people were questioning the natural citizenship of our president, Barack Obama, I thought it was nothing but silly. Who cares if he wasn’t born in the US? He was born a US citizen either way, and to me, that’s all that matters. (This is not a plug for Obama, just making a point. Don't want to give our conservative parents a heart attack.)

When the law was made that a person had to be born on US soil to be eligible for the presidency, it was in a much different historical period. Nowadays, we live in such a global world, it just doesn’t make sense that any person born a citizen wouldn’t have that opportunity.

Think about it: If an Italian family is taking a vacation to Disney World, the wife goes into labor and has her baby in Orlando, then travels back to Italy and raises her baby there, that child can one day legally run for president of the United States despite primarily identifying themselves as Italian. However, if my son, born to 2 upstanding US citizens, is born in the UK while his dad is working for a major US company, then goes on to live the majority of his life on US soil, he can’t ever run for the most powerful office in the land simply because he was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Silliness!

Now, I detest most politicians today (and that's bipartisan) so it’s no skin off my back if my son is discouraged from taking that path with his life. However, it’s pretty sad that I can’t tell my child, ‘You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.’, because I’ll always have to add the caveat “…except for President of the United States”. Again, SILLY!!!!

Now, I was in no way looking forward to taking my 3 week old on the road to Edinburgh for his passport interview. At this point in his life, he was an even crappier napper and was super thrown off any time we got him out and about. The thought of being out of the house from 7 AM til 5 PM and having to feed and change him on the road was not a thrilling prospect. However, he did fairly well on the day of. There was some fussiness in the car but nothing traumatizing. 
We saw the sun rise....
...and set on our day trip to Edinburgh.
He was a bit thrown off when I tried to feed him in the backseat. He seemed to be questioning, “Where is my brown chair? Where is my green breast feeding pillow?” and was a tad hesitant to eat. But by the second feed, he had it down.   

We ended up missing our appointment because the traffic coming into Edinburgh was atrocious. It seriously took us an hour to go about 3-4 miles. Luckily, I called and let  them know we’d be late and since they weren’t too busy, it wasn’t a big deal for us to show up an hour and half later than we were supposed to. 
It did put us in the consulate when Forest’s feeding time rolled around which was a scary time for us all. I’m still not too comfortable breastfeeding in public, and fortunately we were able to get out of the office and back to the car before he had a complete meltdown. 

Overall, I kind of think taking the train to Edinburgh would have been easier than driving, especially since Jonathan couldn’t locate the pay machine for the pay and display parking and managed to get slapped with a parking ticket in the 30 minutes we were at the embassy. I just think a train probably the easiest way to travel with a newborn who has to eat so frequently. 

But anyways, we got it done!! He’s officially a US citizen. And super excited about it!:
Just another chubby American:)

"I pledge allegiance..."
Now all we have to do is get his UK Visa and we can start jet-setting all over the world. First stop: U.S.A, of course. Gotta introduce that baby to the magic that is Target!

1 comment:

  1. So silly that law!!! Maybe he could see about getting that law changed if he really would like to become president!!! He does seem to look like Jon more and more each day. Hope to chat with you again soon.