ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Last December a policy was passed that removed exclusions for reissuing Social Security numbers to adopted children, making it possible for all adopted children to get a new Social Security number.
Despite this, one Alexandria, Minnesota, family is having difficulties getting a new number for one of their children.
Three of Melissa Moore's children are adopted, and while two of them were able to receive new Social Security numbers, one of them has not. The Moores have been dealing with the issue since July 26.
"We had been denied originally after having been told by the IRS that we needed new numbers," Moore said. "Admittedly ... it's supposedly being worked on. In theory, he should be getting a new number. I just can't explain why an adopted child is being denied a number or why it's such a big deal, because we gave them all the paperwork they needed."
When they were denied numbers the first time, Moore heard from other adoptive families who were having the same difficulties.
"I think that's why the law ended up changing," Moore said. "What we were told was if we had gone to request a new number in a different county, we probably would have been processed through, because the kids had been adopted, especially that they were adopted through foster care."
The Moores found out the law changed when they began the process of getting passports for their children so they could go on a mission trip.
They were able to get two of the numbers changed, but not all three.
"It sounds like what they're telling me is, the reason the other two got processed fast was because we ended up changing their first names, because they wanted a fresh start," Moore said. "Well, we'd already changed their name originally, and in theory that shouldn't matter, they were adopted. The law is such that if you have an adopted child and you request a new number, you're supposed to get one. So I am sort of banging my head against the wall, thinking, 'He's 11.'"
The current Social Security number also has been used fraudulently, another reason the Moores want to get it changed.
Moore said she has been told the matter has been moved out of the local office's hands to a Midwest central office, yet when she called the national office, they had no idea what she meant when she referenced it.
No reason has been given for the difficulties, either, she said.
"We can't do anything," Moore said. "The only thing I can do is call them on a regular basis, and when I call, they say, 'You know, we will call you when there's a change.'"
The Moores have sought help from the office of U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, but they haven't had much luck, either.
"It's really frustrating, and it actually has been a bigger process for us than (just Social Security), because when we went to change the two kids' first names, we followed all of the protocol for Minnesota and went to court and had their names legally changed," Moore said. "Well, they were born in South Dakota, and nobody warned us that South Dakota has different rules. So South Dakota denies their name change.
"So here we have children that were legally a different name than they are on their birth certificate, and we can't change their birth certificate, and nobody knew how to fix it," she said.
Eventually, the Moores wrote a letter to the judge, who was able to help get the certificates changed.
After dealing with issues like these, the Moores want to start a group for foster and adopted families.
"I think sometimes people in our situation don't know who to talk to, and we get a little bit shamed into not talking about the kids' stories, because they're not nice. Their stories aren't nice," Moore said.
Ultimately, she hopes to raise awareness so other kids won't face similar problems.
"It's so much bigger than my kids," Moore said. "These kids have gone through enough. They're not just removed from their home because their parents got mad at them because they made poor choices. There's big reasons why kids are removed from their homes, and then to face bureaucratic changes and process procedure issues going forward, that's just stuff they shouldn't need to face. It shouldn't be that difficult.
"Honestly, it should just be an automatic change," she added. "If a kid is adopted, their Social Security number should be changed. For their safety, it should be changed."