Monday, September 8, 2008

May's Immigration Story

May's third grade class is studying a unit on Immigration. Each student is inventing a character that immigrated to the United States between 1860 and 1930. Ideally, it should be based on a member of the family. However, all the members of both my side of our family and Chris' side of our family immigrated in the mid-1700's. I found one female member of my side of the family who married into the family in the late 1800's and immigrated to the US around 1860(ish). But, there are no details about this. So, May decided she would like to invent a character who immigrated from China.

Whoooooooo boy. BIG difference between Chinese immigration in 1860-1930 and modern Chinese immigration. Not always such lovely stories in the older times. May and I carefully researched and she learned that a man could be a Doctor in China, and immigrate to the US and have to work as a Cook, Laundry Person, Railroad Worker, or other "lower" job. She learned that people could be sent back to China because they could not speak English. She learned about the prejudice, hatred, violence, and discrimination that Chinese people faced in those times. Not fun. But, it is good to learn all different types of stories!
Her teacher asked if there were any first generation immigrants in the families of the students. Once May learned what that meant, she eagerly volunteered that SHE was a first generation immigrant. And, her sisters are, too! She volunteered to write out her story and present it to the class.

She knows the basic story, but I always feel that we need to paint a complete story when talking about international adoption and immigration. Sooooooo ... she and I set to work on her paper. I helped A LOT. I don't normally help very much with schoolwork and homework. I support with questions that help my kids find answers. But, I never do their projects for them! LOL!

This was different. This was not for graded/assigned school work, and I felt it needed to be complete and accurate.

May and I talked about EVERY teeny tiny part of her story, and I made sure she felt comfortable telling her class (and this blog!) about her story. She did. Her report included details, but many of the forms we included were blank and we did not include things like copies of physicals, financials, and other private documents.
Once her report was complete. She and I read through it together three times to be SURE she felt good about it. She did.

I am so happy and proud that May feels such confidence about her background and experience! It is WONDERFUL that she is happy and confident!

Off she went to school with her report. She did get to read part of it. And, some of the kids (and her teacher) looked at the book and all the paperwork. She seemed a little disappointed that she did not get to read the entire thing to the class. :-) (It is really LONG!)

It is a fantastic report! I am pasting a copy of it below. Enjoy!


My Immigration Story
By May ___
September 2, 2008

I was born in China on August 3, 2000. I immigrated to the United States of America on August 14, 2001 with my Mom and Dad. I became a US Citizen on that same day.

There were lots of steps and rules they had to follow before I could become an American Citizen.

My Mom and Dad had to meet the rules of two countries: The United States and China.

There were lots of fees that had to be paid. (ITEM B-1 and B-2) Everyone knows you can’t buy a baby! But, when someone adopts a baby, there are fees that have to be paid to lots of government places.

My Mom and Dad had to choose an adoption agency that works in China. They lived in the Denver area and decided that CCAI was the best agency. CCAI is in Denver.

They had to go to lots of classes and learn about adoption and immigration. They had to see doctors and get papers that said they were healthy. They had to get copies of lots of things like their birth certificates and marriage certificate. They had to work with a nice Social Worker named Mary Jo who visited my house and wrote a report called a Home Study. They had to get permission from the FBI and had to be fingerprinted to make sure they were not bad guys. (ITEM C-1 and C-2) They had to prove they had enough money to take care of me. They had to prove they did not hurt or abuse children. They had to write a letter to the official government people in China and tell why they wanted to adopt me. There were lots of steps!

Once they had done all this paperwork, it all had to be looked at in China and in the United States. Then, my parents got permission from the UNITED STATES to immigrate me.
(ITEM D) And, they got permission from CHINA to come to China and adopt me. (ITEM E-1 and E-2)

They had to get a travel Visa from China (permission) to go to China to get me. More paperwork! (ITEM F-1, F-2, F-3 and F-4)

My parents and I met in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China on July 29, 2001. I was almost one year old. After the adoption was legal in Nanchang on July 30, 2001 we all 3 flew together to the city of Guangzhou, China. That is where the United States Consulate is located. The US Consulate is an American place that is located in China. It is where all Chinese people wanting to immigrate to the United States have to have their paperwork looked at and approved before they can get permission (a Visa) to go to the United States. There was a lot of paperwork that had to be filled out by my Mom and Dad before they could get my Visa!

They needed to fill out what our family calls The Super Secret Package of Papers.
(ITEM G-1 and G-2) These were forms that the US government had to have for me to get a Visa to immigrate to the United States. I had to have a physical (Medical Examination - form 157). (ITEM H-1 and H-2) I had to apply for immigration Visa and alien registration (form 230). (ITEM I) My parents had to petition to make me an immediate relative (form I-600).
(ITEM J) They had to fill out Form 604 in order to investigate an overseas orphan (that is me!). (ITEM K) I had to have a set of photographs. (ITEM L) Both of my parents had to have photos, too. (ITEM M-1 and M-2) They had to sign a form that promised they would take me to a doctor in the United States and have my vaccinations (shots) done. (ITEM N) They had to fill out form I-643 to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for me. (ITEM O) They had to have copies of their Passports.
(ITEM P-1 and P-2)

Once all this paperwork was done in Guangzhou, my parents had to have it all reviewed at the US Consulate. (ITEM Q) Photos are not allowed to be taken at the Consulate. When it was OK with the official people there, my parents had to stand up at the Consulate and take an oath (a promise) to take care of me and never abuse or abandon me. They had to promise that all the paperwork was truthful and no facts had changed since they had done the paperwork.

Once the oath (or promise) was done, my parents were given the Super Secret Package of Papers. These papers were my Visa for me to immigrate into the United States! My parents were strongly warned to NOT open the package! It was inside a clear plastic envelope. It had my picture on the front of it. We took VERY good care of that package during the rest of our time in China! We knew it was REALLY important!!

After all the official adoption and immigration work was finished in China, we took a short family vacation to the beautiful mountains in Guilin, China.

We 3 flew home to America and arrived first in the city of Chicago (before flying on home to Denver). We gave the Super Secret Package of Papers to the immigration officer at the Chicago airport. He looked them over and welcomed me into the United States as an American Citizen!! I was a baby and did not understand it all, but my Mom and Dad were very excited!

When Bill Clinton was President of the United States (when I was a baby) he signed a law called the Child Citizenship Act. (ITEM R) He signed it in February of 2001 and I immigrated in August of 2001. This law said that if both parents traveled to adopt their baby or child from any country (including China) then that baby or child would automatically become a Citizen of the United States when they arrived in the USA, and not have to do anymore paperwork or go to court to become a US Citizen! Our family thinks this is a really great law!! Thank you, President Clinton!!

So, that is the story of how I immigrated to the United States of America and became an American Citizen.

There are lots of Visas issued every year to orphans who immigrate into the United States. They come from many countries – not just China! (ITEM S) In the year 2001 there were 4681 babies and kids up to 14 years old who immigrated to the United States from China – and I was one of those.


Debby said...

What a nice job! You should feel so proud of how May has embraced her story. Great work Mom!!

om to Lindsi & Jami

nanchang said...

Are you sure we had to do all of that for the adoptions? I will refer my girls to you to answer all these questions. I think for me it must be like childbirth and I erase all the memories of the hours of paperchasing!