Sunday, July 13, 2008

Power Play

I thought the hard part was over. I really did. I had no idea that once my child was definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt a US Citizen that there would be no further hassles or questions and life would proceed as smoothly for our family as for any other family.

Riiiiiiighhht!!! What was I thinking? At my age, I should know better.

As I sauntered in to my local Social Security office, confidently carrying a carefully arranged file folder which had been prepared months in advance, I was as cheerful as one could be when facing what was sure to be a tedious and extensive wait. I twiddled with my phone while waiting and was pleased to be called by what appeared to be the nicest gentleman in the place. He really was nice. Oh, so nice.

It turns out he was a volunteer and just "helping out" and completely unprepared to deal with issuing a social security number to a US Citizen sans birth certificate. And here we go...back into the waiting room I went as my two-hour parking meter began to run down and my nerves began to jangle (parking tickets in this part of town are not what I'd call pocket change).

Finally, she was ready for me. I cheerfully presented my orderly paperwork and was blindsided with a very droll, "Why do you need a social security number?". What?! Umm...ok, maybe this isn't going to go quite as smoothly as I'd hoped, but I answered cheerfully and respectfully. Before I could complete my sentence, I was cut off with a recital of all of the things you can do without a social security number and told I didn't need one for any of those things, particularly for filing taxes. Yes, I said I was fully aware of all of the things I could do without an SSN, but there was one thing I needed to do that *did* require a SSN, so I would really like one, please. She insisted I didn't need one. I insisted I did. She then admitted I did need a SSN for the thing that I wanted it for (opening a brokerage account), but she made no apologies or any recognition whatsoever of the fact that she had just insisted I didn't need an SSN. Fine. I'm totally ok with that.

Next issue? According to this lady, I had no proof of my child's US Citizenship! I held a court document in my hand demonstrating what I was told by a JUDGE was proof and what my extensive research told me was proof, but somehow it wasn't good enough for the Wicked Witch of Social Security.

What was she concerned about? Perhaps she was concerned about issuing a Social Security number to a tiny little terrorist?? While I haven't been with my son every second of his entire life, I am fairly confident in stating (even under oath if necessary) that he is definitely not, nor has he ever been a terrorist.

She kept my application and sent me home to collect one additional document. Since by this time I had invested over 2.5 hours sitting at that office, I pleaded with her to allow me to make an appointment to meet with her on my return visit so I could avoid the part about standing in line again. No dice.

On my return visit I brought with me not only all of the requested documents (completed application, Passport for my child, court documents, my ID), I also brought with me documentation from the US Department of State website indicating that my son was absolutely, definitely a US Citizen. She reviewed the documentation and continued to challenge me on his status, refusing throughout the conversation to refer to "the child" as my son. When I pointed out the facts to her she responded by saying, "Well, that's what you say". I said, "No, that is what the US Department of State and the US Citizenship and Immigration Service say." Her final words to me were, "I haven't yet decided whether I will approve this application or not."

While at first I thought she hated her job, the more I thought about it the more I realized she absolutely loves her job. There are few positions at this level I can think of that wield more power than this one. She believes that she holds the power to prevent a person from getting a social security card. While that may or may not be true, why would she want to prevent a baby from getting a card? Perhaps just to make her job interesting or to get back at the world for some injustice she suffered. Whatever her reasons, she's the one that needs to live with them.


Cindy said...

Wow...I am frustrated just reading about this encounter you had at the Social Security Office. I hope you can get a SSN for your little guy soon (and afterwards, I would complain to the Social Security Administration about the service you received). Everyone knows how frequently you are asked for your SSN...I can't believe she would claim he doesn't need a number.


Tiffany said...

That is CRAZY I have never heard of such a thing! We are still (at a snails pace) going through this with sophia so I fully understand the frustration but to be questioned and told you don't need a SSN - how much easier will school be? Healthcare? first job? that's just nuts. I am frustrated for you - I hope everyting works out and little Island Boy can get his SSN!

J & S & Di-di said...

OMG... You are not alone in this ordeal.
I also had a huge problem with the first Social Security Office that I went to. All of my documents from Taiwan were in order and were already translated into English, and I even spent extra money to have AIT notarize the documents. However, the SSO clerk and his boss insisted that they need to send all of the Chinese documents to CIA, because they "only" recognize the translation done by CIA. CIA!!!!???? I thought these people were smoking pot... The idea was so funny that I wanted to laugh out loud. After trying to reason with them for 10 minutes, I refused to give them the documents and just drove to another Social Security Office 20 minutes away. That office knew what an international adoption is, had no problems with the exact same documents and there was no mention of CIA involvement needed.... Got my son's card a few weeks later without any problem.

That was the weirdest experience I have ever had with a government bureaucrat.

Hang in there... Hope you get a SS# for your baby soon!

Amy, Ryan, Aidan & Lauren said...

Argh! Just wanted to say that I am sorry you are dealing with this. Totally ridiculous and unfair!

Jeff, Abbey, and Reed Land said...

We had the SAME situation with Reed. It took several trips and lots of blood pressure medicine to get his SSN!