Monday, February 15, 2010

One Family's Journey: Sentencia and What Happens After

After a quick break to catch my breath we're back to tell you the story of our last week in Bogota and all the legal hoops we made it through to come back home! Here's what you can expect to happen when you get SENTENCIA!

1) Your lawyer will submit your paperwork as I described in my last post. Then you will wait around. This part is exceedingly boring, but after the drama of our last week, I would tell future parents to enjoy the calm because things get WILD the week you leave.


2) Your lawyer will call you and tell you that the judge has signed Sentencia and when you're appointment is to sign the papers. Our lawyer called us on a Monday morning and we went Monday afternoon at 2:30 pm. I have heard that some judges like to meet the families before they sign, but we never saw our judge.


3) You arrive at the court, and in Bogota anyways, it's all extremely disappointing. No judge, a million people looking for who knows what and PILES of paper everywhere. In Colombia, digital copies are not legal. We went to our Juzgado and a notary authenticated our papers with our signatures. [Colombian Mommy Note: It is very important that you double check that all names are spelled correctly and exactly as they appear on your passports. Also double check that your passport numbers that are listed are correct. You may not be able to read every word, but it is up to you to make sure that all of your identifying information is correct. Many a family has been delayed because of small errors and then the Birth Certificate office refuses to issue a cert or the passport office refuses to issue a passport -- SO DOUBLE CHECK!!!]
4)Then while our lawyer was securing the necessary copies we went to the bank to pay for copies of Elian's new birth certificate. Because getting extra copies of my husband's birth certificate was a nightmare, we bought extra copies of Elian's. I highly suggest this!! And they only cost a few dollars each anyways. [Colombian Mommy Note: Absolutely get many copies you need then for immigration, readopt, US passport, Social Security Card and a few other reasons. We got 8 copies and used all but one of them. This is not a time to be cheap. You will also need more copies if you plan to have you child maintain Colombian citizenship and get a cedula and libreta militar in the future. Also, double check that everything on the certificate is correct and that all names and identifying numbers are exact.]


5) After this we waited for our lawyer and because he has great connections we were able to get Elian's birth certificate the same afternoon. To do this you need to go to the "registuradia" where your child was originally registered. In most cases, the copies will be given to you that day.


6) Next, you can go get your child's Colombian Passport which you need in order to start the Embassy rounds. I didn't do this, but if you are in Bogota DO NOT go to the passport office in the Centro International. They are a bunch of incompetent slowpokes. Go to the the one on Calle 100 [Colombian Mommy Note: Amen!!].


7) Next your facilitator will take a copy of the sentencia to Bienestar in order to get a copy of the "Conformidad". This document says "These people adopted this child". This redundancy must be shown at the embassy in order to get the visa. It is a Hague requirement that is somewhat new. We had a series of traumatic events that led us to almost not get this document. You can read about it here. What happened to us probably won't happen to you though! We have extraordinary luck!


After you get this document you can go to the embassy! I'll blog about that part tomorrow. And if you'd like some visuals about what our Sentencia day looked like you can check out a photo documentary of our day on our personal blog by clicking here.

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