Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social Security Numbers for Adopted Children

Okay, this is one of those posts that I am putting on this blog for adoptive parents who are either facing this issue now, or will one day stumble across this due to a "google search" and benefit from hearing about my experience :) I hope it helps you! (For everyone else who is reading, you will probably find this utterly boring and I don't blame you if you stop reading now...)

First off, we have NOT "re-adopted" our daughter yet in the U.S., but I wanted to get her a SS card for tax purposes. The alternative is getting a Tax ID number, but my local IRS office is saying those are taking 10+ weeks to issue, and we need our refund sooner than that. Anyway, I went to our SS card office last week and was told I could NOT get a card without the U.S. adoption decree (many misinformed SS clerks also think you need the U.S. birth certificate, but you do not). I knew the guy was wrong, but I didn't have a all my "proof" with me, so I came home and did some research.

I found these links (directly from the SS website) to be very helpful, so I printed out both and took them with me:
Link 1 - Click Here This just states that you can get a card for your adopted child "even before the adoption is complete." In our case, our adoptions are finalized in Ethiopia, but misinformed SS clerks want to believe that it's not... so this printout comes in handy for those folks.
Link 2 - Click Here - This one is about how to prove citizenship, which you can't until you re-adopt, however I used the second paragraph to show that my daughter CAN be issued a card regardless, the records will just not indicate that she is a citizen)
Link 3 - Click Here - Here's one where an adoptive parent directly asked about getting a card for the child... look at the paragraph about what to do if your child is not a U.S. citizen, you just show the permanent resident card.

Additionally, if you look at the SS application itself, which you can find
HERE, you'll find that you are able to fill out the entire form and have the documents you need for each "area" that they list (ie - there's no way they can turn you down if you have what they ask for). Be sure to mark the box that says "legal alien authorized to work in the U.S." as that is what your child's permanent resident card states - that way you don't have to have another "reason" to need the card (as you would for the 3rd/4th options listed in that question).

For proof of age - you can give the ET passport, ET adoption decree, ET birth certificate

For evidence of identity - look at the sentence that says "if you are not a U.S. citizen..." (show permanent resident card)

For evidence of citizenship - you don't have to prove citizenship to get a card, just make sure to update this in SS records later on once you have the COC

For evidence of immigration status - again, the permanent resident card counts for this

Needless to say, I went back to the same office yesterday and was assigned to a different clerk. This time, I was prepared to "act as my own attorney" in this matter! :) As it turned out, I didn't even need to justify my case, because this clerk knew that I was entitled to get a card. Here is what she needed: my daughters ET passport, the ET birth certificate, the final ET adoption decree, my daughter's permanent resident card, and my ID. That was it people! I got it! You can apply for this right away when you get home - and you are entitled to it. I hope you don't get the run-around like I did the first time!

The moral to the story? There are two.
1. Educate yourself and have all of the above documentation with you, so that you can help to educate misinformed clerks... encourage them to call a supervisor for clarification... encourage the supervisor to call a supervisor, etc.
2. Remember that you may get different answers from different people. If you absolutely hit a wall with one office or clerk, just come back another day to meet with someone else, or try a different office. Chances are, the next person will know what to do!

Finally, keep in mind that if you change your child's name (or any other identifying information) during the re-adoption, you will want to have that updated with the SS office. You will also want to make sure to update your child's citizenship status with the SS office later on when you get the COC.

Hope this info. helps somebody!


  1. Great post! I hope you don't mind but I linked to it on our blog :)

  2. Awesome info. Thanks for taking time to write this up!

  3. Thank you for this post! It is super helpful!

  4. Hi Bethany. Just a few questions to get your thoughts/opinions on:
    1. How hard is it to change the SS card once you get your citizenship proof?
    2. Does the name change affect things? I'm assuming its similar to when I married and changed my name.
    3. Now, looking back, would you still do it this way or use an ATIN?

    Thanks lady.

    Tamara B


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