We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

White skin + white skin

I am officially a legal resident of Egypt for working purposes; I have a passport in my stamp that says so. Mr. Four is a legal resident because he’s married to me. We have different last names, so I had to produce a marriage certificate to prove we were married. Good enough.

But the kids? They have the same last name as Mr. Four, but that’s apparently not enough for residency. Guess why. Yup, because they’re black. Those officials took one lot at the boys’ passport photos and (correctly) determined they were not born to us. And how else could they be our kids?

This was explained to me by a fellow employee, who was actually very sensitive and kind about the whole thing. She mentioned it’s a problem because we don’t have birth certificates. I told her: but we do! One issued by Ethiopia, listing Mr. Four and me as Giggle’s adoptive parents, and another issued by a US state, certifying that Bug was born in Ethiopia and that we are his parents.

Is this enough for Egypt? No, it would apparently only confuse the government officials who deal with such things. Instead, I was told to get an affidavit: write a statement saying these kids are our sons and take it to the US Embassy for notarization.

The Embassy would notarize something saying I was a space alien because all a notary does is certify that the person who signed the paper proved his or her identity and signed it in front of the notary.

But apparently that’s what the government here wants: not actual legal documents, but a signed letter with a fancy notary seal. Basically, my promise that my kids are my kids.

It’s a hassle, and an expense as the Embassy charges a bunch for a notary stamp (I hear it’s a very fancy stamp). But it’s doable. It just really sucks.


6 November 2007 - Posted by | our life in egypt


  1. Why is it important for the boys to be legal residents? I know you all should be entitled to the legal residency since Mr. Four qualifies, but I’m just wondering how it will make life different for you. Nothing like writing a blog to appease me!

    Comment by Paige | 8 November 2007

  2. For us it was the opposite. We had to send our marriage license to 4 separate places to confirm that it was a legal document (I relived the whole adoption paperchase all over again). But for Lyra, evidently her passport and B-cert are enough, no certification or authentication required.

    Comment by Julie | 8 November 2007

  3. That’s nothing. My father passed away in Egypt while vacationing. You should see the red tape involved in that. And the government officials that don’t work unless you give them bribes. Then you get dirty looks from the locals that can’t afford the bribes cuz you’ve skipped the line. An Egyptian from Canada said he’d been 2 that office 4 days in a row and still couldn’t get served.

    Consider yourself lucky. They also told me I had to go 2 the Dept. of Health in Alex, where he passed away, to get yet another death certificate and then go to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to get it stamped or whatever as it was in Arabic. I chose to ignore this advice as I had to leave and return to work here. When I returned here, I just submitted the original in arabic. Government and credit card companies and pension all have their own translation services.

    Comment by N. American Princess | 8 November 2007

  4. Paige, we need residency so we can leave and re-enter the country. We can’t stay here infinitely as tourists.

    N. American Princess, that does sound rough. I hardly feel “lucky” though that the government here can’t recognize our family as legitimate based only on our photos, but you’re right that it’s not too many extra hoops.

    My dad emailed me a comment: “North Africans like stamps.” And that’s what we’ll be getting.

    Comment by egypt4 | 9 November 2007

  5. Ahhh, my blonde moment is over now. Legal residency is required to really ‘live’ in Egypt. I knew I was missing something!

    Comment by Paige | 11 November 2007

  6. Hey, Ms. Four (?),

    I have a fairly pedestrian question for you. Which languages are G&B speaking? Do they use Arabic at school? Do they still speak any Amharic (guessing that was what they spoke in Ethiopia)? And do they differentiate between the languages? I’m always floored by how smart multilingual kids are.

    Good luck with residency! I’ve got all my appendages crossed for you!


    Comment by Karen | 12 November 2007

  7. This is quite off topic, but since I can’t find an email link on here, here goes… Did you adopt your boys while you were in Egypt? We are approaching a move abroad, after which we might begin the adoption process again, but this time as expats. Any insight?

    Comment by Kohana | 12 November 2007

  8. Karen, nice to see you here. I wrote a long response that I just made into a post. Thanks for the questions.

    Comment by egypt4 | 12 November 2007

  9. Kohana, I’m sorry to answer your question so late. No, we started the adoption from the US, and we brought Giggle to the US just a few weeks before we moved here. And we were eligible for the IR3 visa because before the adoption was finalized in Addis, we went to visit Giggle (it was a crazy weekend trip from the east coast of the US to Ethiopia and back). So that meant as soon as he arrived in the US, he was eligible for proof of citizenship and a US passport–we didn’t want him to enter Egypt on an Ethiopian passport.

    Anyway, there are a lot of resources online for expats who adopt. Let me know if you haven’t found more information on that yet.

    Comment by egypt4 | 18 November 2007

  10. […] Regardless of his name, it’s wonderful to have the American paperwork that says he’s our son. Now if only the Egyptians would believe it too. […]

    Pingback by Finally finalized « We Four in Egypt | 8 January 2008

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