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Thursday, January 19, 2006

A passport identity

Yesterday my (adopted) son had to go to a notary to swear that he is not Portuguese. In this labyrinth of Portuguese bureacracy I also had to swear that to the best of my knowledge he is not Portuguese.

In fact he was born and brought up in Portugal and his first language is Portuguese. He is also bilingual and has some perspectives that mark him out from his peers - but as far as he is concerned he is as Portuguese as the next guy.

His mother (who lived in Portugal for 26 years) had a British passport and his father (who he hardly knows) is Croatian who lived in the United States and got a US passport.

So my son has ended up with a British passport and a US passport. He has been to UK three times (a week-long visit each time) and finds the people and the place alienating. He has never been to the States but dreams of going. In a welcome but strange twist I receive, courtesy of the US social services, a monthly contribution to his welfare from America.

As we left the notary, the lawyer said to him: "You know you are entitled to a Portuguese passport, if you want to consider applying for one." He looked at her in surprise. "I don't need a Portuguese passport" he said. "I am Portuguese".



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