Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ex-pat Life

We were going through Immigration/Customs control in Boston, and I had written "U.S.A." as my place of residence. But after interviewing us, the Customs officer said, "okay, just cross that out and write Russia next to it." Gulp.

I know I live in Russia, but I'm not Russian. And they'll never give me citizenship. I don't know if Andrei will ever get U.S. citizenship. I always write U.S.A. as my permanent address. I'm supposed to be granted permanent residency in Russia in the fall, but I still want the U.S. address. I know it's probably weird for Andrei and me to have different addresses, though.

I think part of it is always feeling like a second-class citizen in Russia. I feel like a real person with rights in the U.S., even while living/working abroad.

BUT...even that has its limitations. It gets sort of complicated with things like healthcare, having part of it happen here and part of it there. Bank accounts here and there, tax declarations here and there. I start to feel like I should be apologetic for having unusual circumstances; an exotic last name (exotic middle name to the Russians); a job that doesn't have an easy description. But then I think...why should I feel BAD about not fitting someone's mold?

I don't know if I'm necessarily patriotic, but I definitely prefer aspects of American life to life in other countries, and I prefer to have the freedom to come here if/when the need arises. It feels safe to have that option to fall back on.

Maybe that sounds like I am putting my hope in earthly comforts; in a misplaced sense of security. But God is faithful in testing me. He helps expose my idols. Missionaries or not, we all go through those same basic sin issues.


  1. Well...I don't think it is sinful! Sounds to me like you are just being realistic, and honest, but government functionaries are not always that (to say the least)! One expects that the truth of things will be accepted, but so often people get caught up on the one little "oddity" that catches their eye. I have taken to carrying a copy of the 2000 Child Citizenship Act along with the kids' birth certificates because so many people DEMAND (I'm not kidding!) that my adopted Russian children are not citizens! Just got it again yesterday from a school official. Exasperating. Get real, people!

    1. I'm sorry you are getting harassed like that. :( I think with all the custody issues they have to be cautious, but what do they think, you are harboring illegal immigrants? That you kidnapped them from Russia???

  2. "And they'll never give me citizenship."
    Why so pessimistic?
    As far as law on citizenship (62-FZ of 31/05/2002) goes. as a person, married to a Russian citizen, you get preferred status as far asterms of residence requirments go - provided you are married for at least 3 years. Among other requrments are
    - official job,
    - obligation to abide by the Russian laws,
    - renouncing any other citizenship unless treaty permits otherwise (tough one, I didn't find such a treaty between Russia and US)
    - passage of Russian language exam.
    Judging from the post it is third onee that doesn't fit..

    1. Nope, not for U.S. citizens. Not quite ready to give up my American passport. Anything's possible, though!


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