About citizenship…

Today was an auspicious day. In the US, for the first time in history, a woman led a major political party in a bid for the presidency. Rasa turned 24. And we went and got Monki registered as an American citizen.

Now, to fully understand this, the process goes way back to when we first found out we were pregnant (and really, don’t you love the fact us guys get to pluralize the first person when our part in the process took minutes at most and for the rest of the time we’re just ice cream delivery systems). It started with getting married when we did. Yes, we were always going to get married, but the timing of it was to ensure it happened before Monki showed up. And I’ve talked about all of this before.

So once she was born, we had to get her a Lithuanian birth certificate, which in itself was a fun exercise. I couldn’t do it without Rasa present since I don’t speak Lithuanian. Rasa had a hard time coming because, well, we just had a baby. When we finally did get there together, thanks to my mom watching the little one, we were asked her name. We told them.

Now, her first name is fine. It ends in the typical Lithuanian way, which is to say with an -a. But the name we chose for a middle name (unusual in itself as the concept of a middle name is only name starting to make small inroads here) ends in a consonant. The women in the office said she didn’t think it would fly and had to check with people at the language office (yes, Lithuania has an official language office). Rasa had called them previously and they had basically said our choice of name was unusual but ultimately it was up to the women in the office. What was finally agreed upon (by them, not us) was to add an -a to the end, changing the name completely.

We declined.

But not before calling the US embassy and checking with them about what was required for a name. We wanted to know if Monki’s name was different on her Lithuanian birth certificate, would that be a problem?

“Nope,” was the response. “Whatever name you put on the form, that’s the name she gets.”

Really? Okay then.

So her name in Lithuania is Redacted Greenspon. Says so right there on her birth certificate.

But now we had to deal with the US Embassy. Not only did we have to get her “Consular report of birth abroad” to “transmit” my citizenship to her, but we also wanted to get her a passport for international travel (as well as renew my own, which is relatively easy). 

As you can see, the list of documents needed to do the transmitting is extensive, but thankfully, because of the whole “getting married in Lithuania” thing (see above), I had most of them, complete with apostille! The other thing is that both parents had to be present, as did the wee one herself. This meant a trip to Vilnius.

Getting to Vilnius isn’t hard, I go every week. Getting there with the missus and the kid, with our schedule (yeah, newborn doesn’t interrupt Rasa in grad school or my working several jobs – silly us) is a bit more challenging. We wanted to wait until she was older than three months, but didn’t want to wait too long. Add in the fact I need to get my passport renewed before the end of November for a couple of different reasons and, well, our options were limited. We finally found a day that worked for us, with an open appointment, so we booked it. Just happened to be Rasa’s birthday. Seems appropriate since Monki was born just before mine to get her all the US paperwork on Rasa’s.

Next came transportation. Luckily, Monika said we could borrow her car since renting one is expensive and Rasa didn’t really want to take the train and bus. Naturally, there was an issue with the car the day before…but it was cleared up in time for us to use it to drive to the Embassy, 100km away.

If you’ve ever been to the US Embassy here in Lithuania (I assume they’re the same everywhere, but I’ve only been to this one), you’ll know there are security rules. No electronics for one. Which means no computers, phones, iPads, kindles, etc. Knowing this, I didn’t bring any in with me. At least I thought I hadn’t. Putting my jacket through the scanner they stopped me and asked about a USB device. Yes, I had a car charger in my pocket. They took that. They also took the electronic key to the car. And my €3 set of ear bud headphones.

Suitably stripped of anything to occupy our time in case we had to wait, we were sent through to the office dealing with passports. The first window was to drop off the forms I had filled out (and fill in the gaps from what I didn’t know to fill out). Then I went to a second window to pay for everything. Then we were told to wait.

Eventually, we were called to a third window (there are only four in the room) where we had to present the baby, lion king like, to the American working behind the bullet proof glass.

We were then asked a series of strange question regarding the delivery and conception (seriously, “Where was the baby conceived?” was inquired of us) before I had to present my bona fides in order to “transmit” my citizenship (prove I had lived in the US for more than five years after the age of 14) and raise our right hands and affirm to the veracity of our filled out forms, which we did. Then I double checked that her middle name would be listed. It would.

This was all for the birth certificate. The passport was a little easier, but had its own little bit of oddness. Naturally, we had to make sure we both had pictures taken within the last 6 months (easier for her to fit in that timeline than me, since she’s got less than 6 months on the planet to date). While we were driving to Vilnius, Rasa and I had wondered for how long the baby’s passport would be valid. She thought that in Lithuania, a baby’s passport was good for 6 months to a year. Since our first planned trip out of the country with her is more than 6 months away, we figured it was prudent to ask.

“Five years,” the woman who took all the paperwork initially explained.

“Five years?” I asked. “Five years with this same picture (of her as an almost 4 month old)?”


I shook my head. “Okay then.” I went ahead and ordered the passport as well.

All told, though, besides a couple of oddities, it was a relatively easy procedure. We were in and out in about 40 minutes and the staff was really very friendly. Not that I want to spend afternoons hanging out at the US Embassy, but they made the process as painless as possible (including several preemptive phone calls I had made to answer questions as we were preparing). Certainly a bit easier than dealing with the Lithuanian officials over the same subject.

So now we wait… Should have them back in a week to ten days.

2 thoughts on “About citizenship…

  1. I remember when Redacted was a little speck on a sonogram. Now she is Vice President Redacted in charge of bottle caps.

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