Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Socially Secure

Much as I love talking about my kid, today is all about the giving of advice, with a few words about American governmental systems that aren’t working at max capacity.

First, if you’re looking into adopting a kid, and tax time is coming up in the next six months… do yourself a favor and get them a Social Security number, like, right away.


Because otherwise you get to have the following conversation with the nice guy who does your taxes:

“Say, can I get your daughter’s social security number?”


And then you get to go through the following hassles.

First, you get to check the IRS web site and discover that it is, in general, super-unhelpful.

Then you’ll call the IRS. You’ll sit on hold for a long, long, long time. Then a dude who mumbles so badly you’re not sure he’s in possession of teeth will tell you that he’s going to pass you to someone else, because they are “an expert” in this particular area.

Then you’ll talk to a chick who is an “expert,” inasmuch as she’s an expert at giving you the phone number for Social Security, and then reading off a long list of stuff you could maybe do to remedy your problem, which is mostly about just filing your taxes as if you had no child, and then filing an “update” in which you say, “Whoops, I might have not mentioned that I have a kid. Can I get that money that I get for having a kid now?”

You will follow up this phone call with a call to the Social Security office.

This is where the funny comes in.

The first question you will be asked, by a machine, is “What is the Social Security Number of the person you are calling about?”

And you cannot get past that question to a person, because your problem is that YOU DO NOT HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

It’s genius, really.

So then, after two hours of this, you’ll Google Social Security and discover you have a local office, who ALSO doesn’t really know what to do to help you, except to tell you that you should, like, totally get a Social Security card.

Luckily, the Social Security “I need me a card, yo,” form is readily available on their web site. So you’ll download that, and print it out.

And then you’ll fill it out at your dining room table.

And take it to their office, where they’ll ask for a court form that is NOT mentioned on their web site, over the phone, or anywhere, really, except at the desk where you’re just trying to get a Social Security number from.

So you’ll go back a second time, so that the same person can photocopy one form and assure you that you’ll get your number by Wednesday. Or maybe, like, Friday. Or soon. Maybe.

And did I neglect to mention that you’ll be floundering around like a total idiot, telling these random bits of information to your tax guy, all while appearing to have no idea what you’re doing?

Yeah. You’ll do that, too.

So here’s the deal.

If you’re a parent of a recently adopted child who was born outside the US? Get a Social Security card NOW. Do it today.

More than likely you have been told you should first perform your in-country adoption, then have the child declared an American citizen, and then get a Social Security number, but all those things take time and involve paperwork getting through the United States governmental system without typos.

Get the number.

Go to court.

Have your child declared a citizen.

Then tell the U.S. Government – hey, my kid isn’t a resident alien anymore.

Trust me. It’ll improve your stress levels.


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