In celebration of National Adoption month, USCIS held a special adoption ceremony at the State Capitol on November 18th to honor the citizenship of 14 adopted children from Connecticut. The children, aged 2 to 12, come from countries as far away as China, Brazil, Haiti, India, Ghana and Russia. Guests were are entertained before the ceremony by a delightful clown, Valentine, who blew balloon animals for everyone. Even Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman joined in on the fun, playing limbo with a balloon stick and later, donning colorful patriotic balloon butterfly wings. She later congratulated the small crowd, telling the new young citizens, “You’re going to make this place the best place to live.” After hearing a stunning rendition of The National Anthem, U.S. Magistrate Donna Martinez, a mother of an adopted child (now grown) from Colombia, told her own story of her adoption journey. Today we celebrate another step in their journey. She commented that people often think that it is the children that are the lucky ones because they have been chosen, and though this is true she applauded the parents, reminded them that they  too “are the lucky ones.”

Full disclosure. I’m an adopted child. I came to this country from Taiwan when I was only a month old. I became a citizen when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. I remember my parents brought me to a court house in Washington D.C. (we lived in Virginia at the time.) I remember the room filled with many people. My parents allowed me to stand on the chair, when the Pledge of Allegiance was said. I knew the Pledge because we said it in school. After that, I was told I was citizen, but I didn’t know what that meant. I told the story to a few children I saw at the ceremony. I told them how lucky they were, and I congratulated the parents. It is always rewarding to see Naturalization ceremonies, but to see a ceremony for adopted children is particularly special and meaningful for me. Not only do these special children continue the diversity that makes up the fabric of this nation, they validate reasons for which we decide to come to this country- for freedom, hope, and opportunity. Where would I be if I had not been adopted? Where would these little children be? Still in the orphanages for which they had been found? Celebrate National Adoption month and honor all the mothers and fathers for their strength and courage to follow their hearts and bring another child into their lives.

September 17th is Citizenship Day! We’re celebrating with thirty candidates who will become citizens of the United States in a naturalization ceremony at Hartford City Hall. We’re also celebrating National Welcoming Week (Sept 15-22), a week where we all highlight the contributions made in our communities by immigrants.

All are welcome to attend the ceremony and witness this momentous occasion, from 11:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on September 17th in the Atrium of Hartford City Hall, 550 Main Street.

Citizenship Ceremony at HPL, April 2013

Music and remarks will be part of the agenda as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services presents 30 candidates for U.S. citizenship. The Honorable Donna F. Martinez, United States Magistrate Judge, will administer the Oath of Allegiance to America’s newest citizens, who hail from many countries.

HPL CEO Matthew K. Poland will provide the Naturalization Ceremony’s opening remarks, while keynote remarks will be made by the Honorable Pedro Segarra, Mayor of Hartford.

Special elements of the September 17 ceremony also will include a presentation of the nation’s colors by the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard; students of the Library’s citizenship education program leading the Pledge of Allegiance; and performances by Tom Rotchford and The Mariachi Band / Los Tovardores de America.

For further information please contact  Phone: 860-695-6334

Contributor: April Adams

Nailah and April
For my first assignment as a Cultural Navigator at Hartford Public Library, I was assigned to help Nailah study for her US Citizenship interview and exam. We worked together twice a week in one hour sessions throughout the months of April, May and June.
Nailah is very sweet, very gentle and was initially very shy around me. For the 4-6 weeks her youngest son Syed would hang around our meeting space at the library, but eventually I saw him less and less. I found Syed to be much more accustomed to the American way of life (I never had a doubt he’d ace his interview and exam) and a respectful young man. Very protected of his mother and very obedient. For example, if mom said wear a jacket today it’s cold, you can believe he was wearing a hoodie! He once asked me why I was helping, was it a mandatory assignment of sorts, to which I replied  “No, I am volunteering to help. I’m very blessed and happy to help others.” His 20 year old jaw dropped in disbelief. I sensed from that day forward I had his utmost respect.
Nailah with Nancy Caddigan,
Intercultural Liaison at HPL
I feel blessed to be an United States citizen, to speak a globally recognized language and I know with that comes an innate understanding about American customs. I understand, for the most part, our US customs (I’m from North Carolina and just myself learning the ropes of living in the Northeast). I tease her often that she has five kids (for I have none so I can’t imagine 5!), the courage to move to another country and the guts to learn the language and become an American. The equivalent would be for me to move at my current age to a foreign land and achieve as much in 5 years. I applaud her! Just being around her helps give me perspective for my problems or life challenges seems quite small in comparison.
Nailah recently aced her citizenship interview and exam. She didn’t miss a single question! Even though we’ve accomplished our initial goal, she has asked me to continue helping her with her English. I’m honored to continue working with her. No doubt I’ll walk away from this experience equally as blessed as Nailah. She has touched and enriched my life. Thank you Nailah.

 Jennifer Kriksciun
     On this day the Misbah family begins their Citizenship studies here at Hartford Public library. There are seven in the family: parents Syed and Nailah and their five children, Saqlain, Nimrah, Mumiza, Syed Jr. and Moniza. They shuffle in and wait patiently for class to begin. I walk over to welcome the oldest son, Saqlain and the family. I’m excited they’ve come. I know today is a special day for them as it marks another important step towards their citizenship, an accomplishment for each of them individually but with greater significance as a family.

         The Misbahs have worked hard since arriving her from Karachi, Pakistan in 2008. They were all formally educated in their native country, and the children studied English so they all had a basic language foundation when they arrived here however not enough to not need English classes when they got here. The younger siblings enrolled in the public system and have only a slight hint of an accent as they arrived here at a younger age. The older siblings enrolled in more intensive ESL classes at Capital Community College to study English.

     The Misbahs hope­­­ for a better life here in America. Besides the freedoms this country gives them, they want the right to vote. They are excited to participate in the next election. And as much as they want to contribute their ideas and their vote, they want to pay taxes and becoming contributing members of the United States. They know that doing so will allow them the opportunity for medical care, social security when they retire, and scholarships for their education.

     They want the opportunity for better education and em­­­ployment. Already all four children are enrolled in college, Saqlain’s younger siblings are all full time students at Capital Community College and Saqlain has just graduated with a degree in industrial technology with a minor at business from Central Connecticut State University. When I talk to him, he cannot contain his excitement for his new job working as an IT Engineer at the Travelers. They all have higher aspirations- aspirations that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve in their native Pakistan. Syed, Sr. holds two degrees in mathematics in Pakistan. After achieving citizenship, he hopes to become accredited to teach mathematics here in the United States. 
     The young Misbah women are strong and determined. This much is clear the moment they start talking. They are full of energy and enthusiasm. I ask them how classes are going and they all respond in a simultaneous echo, “incredible!” They are all excited to have learned so much about American civics, and to be entering this new place in their lives. But they are sad to be losing their citizenship to Pakistan, especially Nimrah, the eldest of the three daughters. I ask their mother Nailah how she feels; she smiles in assignation, acknowledging all the freedoms and opportunities available to she and her family with American citizenship. I can tell she is excited and hopeful, and so am I. I look forward to following them on their path towards citizenship. More to come!