We took a family trip to Chicago today to pick up Atticus and Norah's official certificates of United States citizenship. For those interested, we applied for these certificates of citizenship (COCs) in November 2010 and received letters of appointment about two weeks ago. I really didn't know what to expect about this appointment. The letter was very explicit that we had to be there today between the hours of 1-3 PM, so I thought maybe there would be some sort of ceremony. Certain people suggested that the kids might need to recite the pledge.
The address ended up being a nicely appointed office building in downtown Chicago. We went through security where a guard commented that my big camera ought to take some great pictures, and then we sat in the huge lobby waiting for our names to be called. While we waited, we passed the time by making silly faces for the camera until a very stern guard called me over and told me that we were not allowed to take photos anywhere in the building except in front of the flag. He then made me delete the photos we had taken inside the building as he watched to make sure the photo card was clear of any pictures that might represent a breach of national security. I hope the twenty-odd pictures of us all sitting on plastic waiting room chairs with crossed eyes and stuck out tongues eased his mind. I felt horribly guilty and embarrassed.
In the end, we sat in the chairs for about 15 minutes and then a woman behind a ticket counter called us over and handed us the kids' certificates of citizenship. There were two aspects that I was surprised by. First, we were told in the letter to bring Atticus and Norah's permanent resident cards. I did not realize that once we handed those into the lady behind the counter that we wouldn't get them back. We took photos of the cards a long time ago and I'm glad we did because those permanent resident cards had two of the mere handful of pictures that we have of Atticus and Norah before they were adopted. Secondly, the letter did not tell us to bring their birth certificates but I had anyway. This ended up being a good move because their names have been changed since the permanent resident cards were issued and the worker was confused by the discrepancy between the names on the permanent resident cards and those on the COCs. At any rate, the entire "appointment" ended up lasting less than two minutes and then we were free to go.
We celebrated today's milestone with a trip to the Shedd Aquarium. The kids have been begging to return since our visit there in December and they couldn't wait to go back to the yellow submarine. Today we were lucky enough to get front row seats for the dolphin show which included a special guest - a sea lion. The trainer had him demonstrate his skills less than three feet in front of our family. It was truly fabulous and the looks on Norah and Atticus's faces were priceless.