Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Custody Papers

It happened.
I think I'm still a little dumbstruck about the whole thing.

Joey has been having some "boy related" issues and when I called the specialists office yesterday to schedule an appointment she asked what he is being seen for.

I briefly explained.
He's 7
We adopted him about 6 months ago
He's been having issues blah-bitty-bitty-blah.

She's says ok, hooks us up for an appointment on Friday and then she said it. 

"Since he's adopted make sure you bring your custody papers with you."

what was that?

Custody papers?



Am I to assume that for the rest of my son's life I will need to travel around with our adoption paperwork to prove to anyone who demands it that he is my son?

Is there a rash of people bringing in children to your clinic for treatment that don't "belong" to the grown ups that brought them there?

His last name is the same as mine.
You have never even seen him.
The only way you would even know he was adopted was because I told you....
and frankly,
had I known you would then demand this of me....I wouldn't have told you.
Huge error on my part.

I thought
at the time
it was pertinent information as to why he is 7 years old and we are just now dealing with this issue
but now......

now I know better.

I think I am a little in shock that when we walk in there on Friday I will have to prove that I am his mother.
"Hello. I'm Sonia.
This is my adopted son Joey.
Here is his citizenship certificate.
Here are our reciepts from the airline when we flew over to meet him.
Here is a baby picture of him the day he was found alone on the steps.
Here is his school registration forms and the contact information for his soccer coach and three other references you can call that will prove our "custody" of him.
Might I provide you with anything else? A piece of hair for a DNA sample perhaps?"

I'm not embarassed or ashamed or anything of that nature that he is adopted
quite the contrary,
but I also don't feel like stamping a big letter A on his forehead and referring to it all.the.time.

I guess I don't have a point to all of this other than to sayI find it incredibly disheartening.

Not only will we forever have to  put "unknown" on all of his medical and family history questions
but now to have to bring my son to them and show them his "paperwork".
Perfect strangers.
People that don't terribly care for or about him.
Yet they subject him to the burden of proof.

He's not just adopted.
He wasn't just an orphan.
He's Joseph.


And those factors do not define him.
Love does,
not your stupid paperwork.


  1. i have NEVER had to do that-- that is insane!!!!!! i would ask her--so do you ask everyone to bring in a birth certificate? insane-- and we have seen tons of different dr.s, dentists, etc....
    go get 'em mama bear.

  2. Yes, I had to do that for my daughter. I was just as shocked.

  3. All I gotta say is, "Don't mess with the Momma"!!

  4. I am so sorry that you are subjected to this. It shouldn't be this way. I have a feeling it is for all the insurance paperwork. It is not to prove you are his mother or that you love him or that he's not "really" your son. It is a paper trail. Next time just let her know, "He is registered in DEERS, I have a referral, tricare will pay the claim, you don't really need that paperwork. See you Friday."

    Praying for your peace and that Joey never knows what you have to go through.

    Love you.

  5. You have insurance and a referral from your insurance, how he joined your family is none of their beeswax. I wouldn't bring them! And when they ask you for them I would say I didn't bring them b/c they don't have any reason to see them... but make sure Joey is sitting somewhere he can't hear them ask for them.

  6. If he is on your insurance benefits that's is all they need.

  7. exactly!!!!!!!!!!! what if you adopted domestically? i would contact the office manager b/c yes-- if he's on your insurance- there's your proof!

  8. What a crock! So why don't they ask for birth certificates for everyone else? And REALLY, does it matter how he's related as long as he, 1) is cared for by the doctor, and 2) has his visit paid for (cash and/or insurance)?
    If you do bring the "papers" I'd bring EVERYTHING and show them the "custody papers" last. Maybe they'll see how offensive and rude their request is, not to mention absurd!

  9. Custody? What a strange choice of words to use. Soon after we arrived home from China with our first child, we were stopped by the police at a gas station in a VERY small town. Seems someone inside didn't think my husband looked like he belonged with his daughter, so they created a false Amber Alert, and we had to follow the police to the station to clear it up. They asked us for paperwork. I'm like, who carries around paperwork to prove their children are THEIRS? Insane! In hindsight, we should have just given them our blog address. :) And what i meant to say from the beginning? I hope Joey is feeling all better soon! :)

  10. If he's in DEERS you shouldn't have to bring anything! You proved everything to them then (which is when you have to bring marriage and birth certificates so you're proving everything at once). That's ridiculous. Hugs. So sorry. Hope Joey is feeling better.

  11. Sonia,
    I read your blog all the stinkin time but this is the first time I've left a comment. I have 3 adopted kiddos and I have heard of this happening before. I made a decision that I would not provide such "documentation" to a doctor because it is just.plain.not.necessary. Of course, I'm proud as peas that my kids are adopted and I love to tell their stories. But - requiring to tell their stories is another matter altogether. If Joey is on your insurance (which I'm sure he is) you do not have to prove he's your child. You may want to bring the paperwork just in case they flat out refuse to see him, but don't let them know you have the paperwork ahead of time. It may sound sneaky but that's what I would do. I'd be polite but explain that I don't carry any of my children's custody papers around and there's no reason I should. What if your husband was Asian? Would you have to carry around paperwork to prove that's why you have Asian kids? Totally ridiculous! I understand that the doctor is most likely trying to be responsible, but until you have an adopted child, you can't understand how offensive their request is.

    Whoa, I'm getting dizzy up here on my soapbox! I should probably jump down.

  12. A little different perspective. It is somewhat unrelated as the circumstance was very different. But I repeatedly would have to prove that I was allowed to make decisions.

    My dad passed away when my youngest brother was 12. My mom had trouble coping. I was helping (I was 26 when he passed away). At any rate, when my brother was 13 he broke his arm. As in he had to have many many many appointments, it reset multiple times, it casted a bunch of times. I wound up being the one who did all of the doctor's appointments. Sometimes it was just assumed that I was his mother. And that was fine. Sometimes it caused problems. I always had to carry the papers that proved I was allowed to make the decisions. The only one I really had issue with was an x-ray appointment. All that was done was take off cast, x-ray to make sure it was continuing to heal correctly, then reapply. The tech just about refused to take off the cast.

    Why I guess I'm saying this is to convey that there are circumstances where a non-parent does take a child in. And sometimes does make decision (which is allowed, provided you have the correct documentation, which should be kept in the chart but is not always... this should not be a problem for you... your name should be attached to his at any rate). And this is not just an issue for adoptive parents. (Let me tell you, my brother was not impressed when I repeatedly had to explain that our dad had passed away, our mom was unable to come to appointments, so what he had was me. It is not something I liked going over or he like hearing me say. Life was hard enough without discussing it repeatedly with strangers)

  13. That would be so annoying. They do not make you bring in birth certificates for biological children... This makes me crazy. He is your son!

  14. I read not too long ago about another mom who had to do the same thing. Sorry...but if he looked like you and they didn't know he was adopted, they would never question it. Shame on them for being racist!

  15. I am not sure the reason behind this...I can see proving that you have insurance and that he is covered but to bring is adoption paperwork. I don't think I would do it unless they can give you a valid reason why they need it. They better watch out they have awakened mamma bear!


  16. I have been asked to bring Ethan's adoption papers too before each of his surgeries to "prove we are his parents'. I brought them once. They never asked for them. They always tell me to bring them over the phone but have never asked for them in person (All Children's, the ENT, the speech therapist etc). It's frustrating and insulting as an adoptive mom to be asked to do this. I'm so sorry they said this to you. And I agree with you, if you had not openly said he was adopted they would have never known and would not have asked to see them.
    Another thing I HATE is on the form at the hospital & with his speech paperwork it said "If the biological parents are not signing, who will be signing". Why spell out "biological"? It should read "parents/guardian". We are his parents. Just not his biological parents.

  17. I totally agree and I hate it. I know a little more information about our son adopted from Korea, but I hate it when they want to see it like I need to prove how I know this information. I'm so sorry you are going through this. It's all crazy.

  18. I have had several of occurrences like this, unfortunately. Once the person wanted to put my child's birth name on his paperwork instead of his adopted name, he had been adopted for over a year at that point, some people are just clueless.

  19. Good grief...that IS ridiculous!!!

  20. Amen! I dealt with this too and didn't like it one bit. It made me mad and sad and very irritated. Didn't have to bring a birth certificate for any of my bio kids ever...

  21. Oh, wow. That is ridiculous. Shaling has gone to 4 different doctors (including dentist) since we got home in January. NONE of them asked for such. N. O. N. E. I think my response would have been something along the lines of, "do you require parents to bring birth certificates to prove their biological children are theirs?"

  22. oh sonia. how ridiculous. not as bad but yesterday at the dentist i was told they needed my 4th kiddo's past family history. i wrote her dr number and told them she was under his care and up to date. the visiting greeter told me she NEEDED a family history (had it been the regular gal she would have NEVER gone there). i told her i NEEDED it more than she did and 3.5 year in i still had notta-danotta, zippy-zilch. really??? who do these people think they are? inspite of it all my 3.5 year old got best little kid they had ever seen. her behavior was perrrrr-fect :-)

  23. Oh my goodness . . . the mama bears are riled up and unified. Reminds me of my recent "It says here, race is Asian, is that correct?" experience while doing Teddi's pre-op paperwork. Asked by the lady sitting four feet from me and four feet from my "YES, that is correct" Asian daughter. Really?

    I'm with Lisa's answer-- "He is registered in DEERS, I have a referral, tricare will pay the claim, you don't really need that paperwork. See you Friday."

    Just say NO to "Custody Papers"--or as another friend did when a doctor's office became insistent--Let them know that when they have everyone else in the waiting room come forward with "proof" you'll be happy to comply!

    Bless you friend, maybe you can gently enlighten the office on Friday with a little bit of adoption etiquette!


  24. Gracious sakes, who would have thought? That is just crazy. Hang in there girl! :)

  25. Goodness, I've never had to do that. BUT last month when I was filling out an insurance app, my agent said, "So, since you've adopted them, what does that make you? Guardian?"
    "How about 'parent,' Spanky. Try that one!"

  26. You tell 'em girl! Love you :)

  27. I am hearing this happening to more and more people and it is so WRONG! Sorry you had to experience it. :(

  28. Well, I am very offended by them questioning who my "grandson" is!!! The very idea. Isn't the federal government suing Arizona and Alabama over their laws saying that illegal aliens must have their correct identification if stopped during a traffic incident????? What makes this any different--EXCEPT that adopted children are LEGAL! Exactly how many Asian children are trying to enter this country illegally and co-opting Caucasian parents to take them to the doctor to pay for the visit and treatment???? Hmmmwuff!

    Go get em for me!
    Granny Donna
    P.S.--I hope my Joey is better soon. Give him a big hug from me.

  29. Amen to all you Mammas!! I was also recently asked by a doctor's office to bring adoption paperwork. Not gonna do it...got their insurance card with my last name. That works for everyone else so it will for us too. Hope Joey feels better soon!

  30. GRRRRRR!
    I would've told her "never mind, I'll find someone else!" .
    Although I have no idea what it is you needed her for.
    I wouldn't have been as nice as you.
    Love ya!

  31. Those people on the other end of the phone lines ... small minds, a lot of power.

  32. This happened to me with a dentist and I told them I would find another dentist. I am so glad I did because the one in the next town over has 5 adopted kids and totally understands.


  33. A little different perspective.

    Is it possible when you told the gal you adopted about 6 months ago, she didn't realize it was an international adoption and thought it was a domestic adoption that was not finalized? Generally, it takes at least 6 months, if not longer, from the time you "adopt" or "take custody" of a child before the adoption is finalized. During this time, the child does not legally belong to you (even when all the love you have says otherwise). This may be why she asked for custody papers - to make sure you were legally allowed to make decisions for him on behalf of the state.

    Technically, our son belonged to the state of IL while he was in our custody for almost 7 months, until we finalized his adoption. Most agencies require paperwork to be sent to the docs office, because they need a legal record of the visit.

    Perhaps the lady just didn't clarify your situation well enough and made assumptions based on a domestic adoption that hadn't yet been finalized.

    I can understand the frustrations however of feeling like you need to prove Joey is yours - we've been there too!

  34. It happened to me last Wed too! First time ever!! We were in a pediatric surgeon's waiting room, paperwork ALREADY filled out and submitted and then friendly me, walked up tot he counter and explained why we are just now taking care of "this issue" -- b/c they have only been home 5 months and THEN they ask for proof - they want to see all my adoption paperwork. I truly thought it was a joke. I have never been asked before. AND they kids are on our insurance. How can they get on our insurance if they aren't our children? I asked the lady.
    I was dumbfounded. I said I'll bring it before their surgery and sat back down.
    Good Luck friday! :)

  35. argh...I actually had the person who was going to pierce Lily's ears ask for custody papers! I don't know when I've ever been as upset as I was at that! The "funny" thing was that Yana (who is also adopted, but caucasian) was getting her ears pierced, as well, and they didn't require anything for her.

  36. This happened to me a few weeks ago. I raised a holy stink!! In my case, the receptionist asked me if I was a foster mother, I said "no, they are all my kids" so she directly asked if they are adopted. Of course, I said yes. In the future I will know to say "none of your business". They then told me I had to provide adoption paperwork before I could sign consents. They heard me all over that office, town, and two states away at their main office! I told them in no uncertain terms that they WOULD NOT be getting any paperwork beyond what is required for a biological parent and THAT was THAT. I won, by the way.