Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Journey to Citizenship

Thirteen-plus years ago, my mother-in-law moved from Australia to the United States.  She brought her two youngest sons with her at the time, and the older two (Oz is the eldest) came over a few months later.  The years have also brought over Oz's father and grandmother, so that now the vast majority of my mother-in-law's family is here - only her one brother remains behind.  

Oz became a U.S. citizen shortly after M1 was born.  I have a photo somewhere that some nice lady took and sent to us (I was holding an 11-month-old at the time and didn't have two extra arms to deal with a camera as well).  However, he's been the only one that's taken that step... until now.

My mother-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law (the next in line after Oz) took the oath today.  Since it was a school day - and a Tuesday to boot - my mother-in-law wasn't sure if I would want to drive the 1.5 hours down to watch the ceremony, but as a homeschooling parent AND the mother of her grandkids, how could I miss such an opportunity?

I know she's gone back and forth many times about whether citizenship is the right step for her.  I know that it's taken a lot of time and money to fill in and file forms, attend interviews, and take the citizenship test.  (I went over the basic details with the kids, since we've been through the process and seen it for ourselves, but if you're interested, here's a link to the steps to becoming a U.S. citizen).  I'm proud of her for following through.

The kids and I rolled out of bed nice and disgustingly early on this very cold, November-or-February-like day and climbed in the car for the ride down to the state capital for the oath ceremony.  We got there and made it through security ("Mom, why do we have to take our shoes off?  They know we don't have anything.  We're kids!" - M2) and took a seat in the room where the naturalization would be held.  We didn't have to wait long - the ceremony started with a brief video about 15 minutes later.

After the video ended, we stood for the National Anthem and a USCIS representative came out and spoke briefly - briefly enough that even my kids didn't lose patience - before getting down to the heart of the matter.

The first thing he did was read out a list of all the 'home' countries represented at the ceremony.  Australia was first.  That's my mother-in-law and brother-in-law standing; you can see the speaker in the mirror behind them.

Hi, Mum :)

After all the countries had been listed, the oath was taken.  The kids were impressed by the length and content of the oath.  M1 had thought it would just be one sentence, maybe two.  (Read the full text of the oath here.)

Once everyone was sworn in as new citizens, everyone - spectators included - stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Finally, the certificates of naturalization were handed out.  The speaker went over a few housekeeping details (like making sure the certificates were 100% accurate before leaving the building to save time and money later), and that was it!  From start to finish, the entire ceremony took about 35-40 minutes.  Not half bad, I must say.

Personal data removed from image
And now my kids have a U.S. citizen for a paternal grandmother.  Congratulations, Mum!


Beth said...


Anonymous said...

That's so cool and an interesting thing to pass on, genealogically - "We knew one of our immigrant ancestors personally!" :D

Kim said...

What a great thing to witness.

Mom on the Verge said...

That's pretty cool! AND it counted as school... ;)