The Spanish Consulate, Part 2

USCIS mishap in adoption process

By Alan M. Murray

It’s back. Recently, there was a slight change on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Spain is now included on the list of countries that do not maintain child abuse registries.

Clarissa made two trips to visit the Spanish Consulate in New York City to complete paperwork for background checks for the time she lived in the Canary Islands in the late 90s. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

To qualify as adoptive parents, we have to obtain a certificate from each state and country we’ve lived in since we were 18, verifying that we haven’t been convicted of crimes related to mistreating children.

When we began, we checked the USCIS site for the countries where we’ve lived. Australia, Argentina, and Spain were listed, meaning we weren’t required to get certificates.

But a few weeks later, Spain suddenly, and without explanation or notice, disappeared from the page, so we scrambled to work with the Spanish Consulate so Clarissa could have a screening done for the time that she lived in the Canary Islands.

No one knew what to do. The consulate had never dealt with this kind of background check before and even had to create a form from scratch, uncertain if it would work. After two trips to New York City and a long distance phone call to a contact in Spain who agreed to pick up the form for us (it has to be done in person) we could only wait.

People wait to be helped at the Spanish Consulate in New York City. Since we made an appointment online, we didn’t have to wait too long, but the consulate workers were puzzled since they had never had a request for this kind of background check. (Photo by Clarissa Murray)

But we were surprised a few days later when we received an e-mail from Madison Adoption Associates letting us know that USCIS recently “reassessed South Korea’s and Spain’s abuse registries and determined it does not meet the criteria for requiring a clearance for the purpose of adoption.” Maybe that’s why the consulate had no idea what we were asking them to do.

The Spanish Consulate is organized geographically. The New York office covers Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

The good news is that we’re almost finished with the first step, and we’re getting closer to receiving final approval to adopt “Alejandro.” And our friend won’t have to go pick up the form. But, someone, somewhere in a government office in Madrid is probably puzzled by a letter from the United States with a form they’ve never seen before, wondering if anyone will ever come get the requested certificate.