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Old 18.09.2015, 10:01
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Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Hi there!

We have been in Switzerland for a year now and are still battling to get permits for my daughters.

All 4 of us are British citizens but here is the problem: my daughters were adopted from Ethiopia whilst we were living in Dubai.

We have supplied migration with every scrap of documentation possible, had Swiss neighbours/friends contact them on our behalf, and spoken with very 'understanding' migration officers to no avail.

We are told that as they do not recognize the adoption. This means the mountains of adoption paperwork is immediately discounted and, therefore, there is no evidence they are our children. British passports with our family name are not considered 'proof'.

We absolutely love life here. My daughters are well integrated into the community and fluent in Swiss German. We've made great friends with all our local neighbours but we're ready to admit defeat and leave.

Has anyone encountered a similar problem? Without permits we haven't been able to put our daughters on health insurance which, as anyone with young children will know, is madness!
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:25
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

If all 4 of you are British citizens, with British passports, I don't get it what the problem is or why migration is involved directly.

When we arrived it was passports that mattered, I'm pretty sure we did not need birth certificates, ours or the kids. Only certificate i think we showed was a marriage certificate. Our kids came the old fashioned way so we have no additional paperwork etc etc.. But point being, with UK passports isn't that all you need?? What got the authorities more interested?
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:36
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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If all 4 of you are British citizens, with British passports, I don't get it what the problem is or why migration is involved directly.

When we arrived it was passports that mattered, I'm pretty sure we did not need birth certificates, ours or the kids. Only certificate i think we showed was a marriage certificate. Our kids came the old fashioned way so we have no additional paperwork etc etc.. But point being, with UK passports isn't that all you need?? What got the authorities more interested?
Because the permits are usually tied by family rules to the person(s) who are working and providing the necessary support. If there's no recognised family link then that doesn't work.

@Aimless - do you have any papers from the UK? They may be more recognised than the Dubai ones, or that may be an easier route.
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:45
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

@newtoswitz

This is the problem. We moved directly from Dubai to Switzerland so there isn't any British paperwork per se. All the paperwork has been stamped by the British embassy though. However, to have the adoption actually registered in the UK we'd need to live there and basically 'readopt' through the British courts.
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:45
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Blimey... that's a new low, even for them!!

Have they said what they WILL accept as proof?
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:47
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

@John_H

You would think it should be that easy!! ;-)
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:54
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

It sounds like an adoption problem...maybe you could try contacting the authority that handles adoptions in Switzerland.

It sounds like you managed to get British passports issued for your children, without the adoption actually being legalised under British law. That sounds strange... And Switzerland may not recognise Dubai adoption law...

It may actually be straightforward to get the Swiss adoption agency to verify their Dubai adoption...or not... But I'd imagine that it involves paperwork regardless..

That said, a friend of mine adopted through Switzerland from Ethiopia but they are Italian and she is still fighting the Italian beurocracy to have his name properly recorded to be consistent between Italy and Switzerland. She will probably get him a swiss passport before the Italians manage to correct his Italian one...

Have you made any contacts through Swiss adoption groups? We know several people who have adopted from Ethiopia in the past 10 years... So it might be more efficient to make contact with someone who has done it and has contacts.

If you PM me with your name and email I am happy to put you into contact with my friend.. She speaks Italian, english and German...
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:55
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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Blimey... that's a new low, even for them!!

Have they said what they WILL accept as proof?
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@John_H

You would think it should be that easy!! ;-)
In my experience, you'll probably get further by treating it as a shared problem to solve rather than a bureaucratic exercise. A couple of things I've done with the gemeinde have required documents I didn't have but where they were fine with some other set of proof not on the normal list.

I'd go to them and ask their advice, how you can work together to sort it out, etc etc. Start on the basis that they're obviously your kids but you understand they maybe aren't so happy about Dubai documentation and take it from there.
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Old 18.09.2015, 11:00
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Is there any Ethiopian paperwork you could try with?

edit: I note that neither Ethiopia nor UAE are signatories of the Hague convention on adoption (Switzerland and the UK both are). Might this be the issue?
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Old 18.09.2015, 11:08
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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Because the permits are usually tied by family rules to the person(s) who are working and providing the necessary support. If there's no recognised family link then that doesn't work.

@Aimless - do you have any papers from the UK? They may be more recognised than the Dubai ones, or that may be an easier route.
This was my point, maybe made badly.. The family link. When we got all the permits here I filled in some forms, obviously simplifying here but
My Name and Job as the support person, wife / kid1 / kid2 .. Name and nationality of everybody and a photo copy of each passport. All of our passports are UK passports and nobody asked me to prove that the children are mine or where they were born or if they were adopted or not.

I was asked to provide birth certificates and marriage certificates when we claimed the child support allowance a year later, not to acquire the residence permits.

Good luck with it, maybe a migration lawyer is best action, i've seen them advertise on the banner here before!
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Old 18.09.2015, 11:10
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

People definitely adopt from Ethiopia to Switzerland, so I doubt that is the objection. More likely they don't recognised the adoption of UAE or the 'expat' process...

Anyway, link to Swiss authorities for adoption can be found here:
https://www.ch.ch/en/adoption/

It may be as simple as them reviewing all your documents and issuing a 'Swiss' letter that confirms that they recognise the adoption...

A google search clearly shows that moving an adopted child to a third country can often be a problem with recognition...
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Old 18.09.2015, 11:20
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

@Swisspea

I hadn't even considered readopting through the Swiss system - That's a brilliant idea! We have Swiss friends who are in the process now and I will check with their social worker if it is possible for us.

Thank you all for your suggestions.

Having navigated the bureaucracy of several countries around the world I do realise every place has their own standards and sets of rules. The best outcomes are always achieved when you stay patient, and try your utmost to accommodate them with a smile!
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Old 18.09.2015, 11:20
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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All of our passports are UK passports and nobody asked me to prove that the children are mine or where they were born or if they were adopted or not.
Yes, but;

You gave their passports, which firstly have their picture. I assume being your kids (i.e. not adopted) they look like you genetically, so no query raised there. Secondly passports show their birth place as somewhere in UK, so no query raised there.

If you hand over a passport with a child's picture with a different skin colour to it's parents and the birth place listed as Ethiopia, then the authorities would probably query adoption.
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Old 23.09.2015, 10:29
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Well looks like our time is up here and we now have to rush off to the UK to do the 'readoption'. Have been told it will take a minimum of 18 months!

Panic is setting in.
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Old 23.09.2015, 10:39
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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Well looks like our time is up here and we now have to rush off to the UK to do the 'readoption'. Have been told it will take a minimum of 18 months!

Panic is setting in.
Good luck and thanks for coming back to update us
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Old 23.09.2015, 11:00
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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Well looks like our time is up here and we now have to rush off to the UK to do the 'readoption'. Have been told it will take a minimum of 18 months!

Panic is setting in.
Have you been told by Swiss authorities that you must do this?
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Old 23.09.2015, 12:17
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Island Monkey's question is spot on. I think it is essential to know whether feel you have to leave because, as you say, you are in panic mode, or whether you have been told to leave, in writing, by a Swiss authority who is, say, about to cancel whatever permits/permissions you do already have.

Surely they are not calling onto question the fact that you and your husband are British? If that is the case, and one of you has work in Switzerland, and you are both in agreement that you all want to continue to live in Switzerland, is it possible that one of you return to the UK to go through all the procedures there, without the whole family packing up and leaving?

The general underlying principle in Swiss law is that that the child's best interests come first. That is why, for example, even sans-papiers children (those who have no documentation at all) are still allowed to attend school. In all your dealings with Swiss authorities, the point to emphasise is Putting The Wellbeing Of The Children First.

Have you already been in contact with the UK authorities (in the UK, but also at your Embassy in Switzerland) to ask them about all the steps required there? Could it perhaps be that you do not, in fact, have to be domiciled in the UK (though you might have to fly there a few times) to participate in the UK's bureaucracy related to adoption?

Can you make contact with the adoption agency in Dubai (or a different adoption agency in Dubai, or even in the country of origin of your children, if such an Organisation can be found), to ask them whether they have perhaps already have had similar experiences with other families? Do those agencies have a Website or Forum or some references, through which/whom you might be able to learn how other parents successfully proceeded? Have you asked your former colleagues in Dubai, who knew you when you were in the adoption process, to go to the agency on your behalf, and make enquiries?

Have you been in touch with the consular representatives of those two countries, (in Switzerland, and in the UK), to ask them whether they know of this issue, and which document that they could issue has previously been known to solve this problem (because it served as sufficient proof for the Swiss authorities, or for some other country)?

I don't know whether they could help, but sometimes the organisation called www.binational.ch has contacts to other groups which help families of several nationalities.



Perhaps you've already done all this, and my suggestions might not even be appropriate.
My main feeling is
a) you owe it to yourself, and to your children, to find out as much as possible from all the available sources, and
b) don't run from Switzerland until you are 100% sure that you are actually formally, in writing, being sent away by the Swiss authorities, and on what basis. And even then, consider whether it is really the case that you all have to leave, or whether one of you (and the children, ideally) could stay here while the other went to the UK to sort things out.
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Old 23.09.2015, 16:19
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

@doropfiz and @island monkey

What prompted this expedited move was yet another letter from migration giving us a deadline to produce acceptable evidence of our relationship with our daughters.

As I mentioned previously, we have been working on this for over a year and the feedback we are getting from the immigration lawyers is that it would be best to go have them readopted in the UK. The process requires monthly visits from a social worker, a court appointed guardian and several hearings over the course of at least 12 months.

Thank you for the binational link. It looks interesting.
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Old 23.09.2015, 16:22
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

Not claiming to be an expert here but different countries have different standards as to adoption and it could well be that what passes the bar in the Uk does not pass it in Switzerland, for example in terms of producing the documents to prove it was all above board, that the biological parents genuinely agreed and other ethical aspects etc etc.
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Old 23.09.2015, 17:03
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Re: Unusual situation... Any suggestions?

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What prompted this expedited move was yet another letter from migration giving us a deadline to produce acceptable evidence of our relationship with our daughters...
Presumably then the fear is that they would be taken away from you and placed in care, since the authorities would not consider that they have, and you are, their legal guardians. In which case I can totally understand the need to exit the country quickly.
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