So yeah, it’s official – I’m an American citizen!
It has taken nearly a decade for me to compile all the documents required to prove my American citizenship, but I’ve done it. This has been a goal of mine for many years. At times it felt like other forces were conspiring to prevent me from achieving this goal, but my hard work and patience have paid off.
I went to the US Consulate this morning with three large binders of paperwork. You’re not allowed to bring in any kind of electronic device or bag, so I had to carry them by hand. Luckily I use page protectors so my documents weren’t damaged by the rain. After going through two annoying, and slightly invasive security checks I waited in the hallway for them to call my number.
I applied for a US Passport by birth abroad to one US citizen parent and so I had to submit not only my own information which includes a three page live birth certificate, Canadian passport, US Passport application and so forth but my father’s extensive paperwork.
In order to proceed I had to prove the following:
- My father’s birth in the US,
- Proof of my father’s physical presence in the United States totaling 10 years, all before I was born,
- Proof that my father was married to my mother before my birth. They don’t like bastard citizens,
- Proof of my father’s death, and
- Proof of divorce from his previous marriages.
This all sounds pretty straight forward, but my father was an extremely unusual individual. He was a career criminal, involved in organised crime and so forth. He used several different aliases all over the United States and Canada. He was usually trying to evade the authorities, so he resisted all attempts by the government to document his physical presence at any one place. Conventional forms of proof of physical presence such as rental records and work records do not exist for him.
However, as a career criminal he was bound to get caught from time to time. His “rap sheet” lists over 32 arrests from the mid ’50s until the ’80s. I managed to get a few copies of this record and got information about his extensive time spent in federal prisons as well as his hospital records.
In addition to that I had to find documents that prove that all the names he used refer to him. Getting all this paperwork together was no easy task. I officially began this back in 2001, so it’s taken me that long to figure it all out.
When my father was alive he adamantly opposed my desire for US citizenship. He refused to help me in any way. He spent the last 22 years of his life in the Indiana prison system and most of the years before that running away from the law. He had a very negative view of the United States, and can’t say I blame him for that. His experience down there sucked.
Having a notorious criminal/prisoner as a father has not been a great experience. Of course, that can be said for any absent or otherwise negligent parent. But I always felt his criminal tendencies carried another layer of shame and stigma. I never profited from his criminal exploits. Having him as a father only brought crap to my life.
I’ve always wanted to take something good from that connection and that’s the main reason I wanted to get my US passport. I wanted to take something good and lasting out of a pile of crap.
At the end of the day it seems his extensive criminal exploits have served some good. His criminal record was the documentation I needed to prove my US citizenship. So, I’ve taken something very real, lasting and tangible from a dark place.
The long era of secrets and lies is no more. The curse of my father’s shadow is broken.
I feel a deep sense of release and inner peace.