One of the first things we did after each of our children’s adoptions were finalized was head to the social security office to request new social security numbers for them. While it is not a requirement after adoption, we chose to do so for a variety of reasons, some practical, some personal, and some just safeguards for our children. The process is relatively easy; we brought our adoption decree—not a copy but the original document—as well as their original birth certificates when they were provided (one child had one, but the other did not), and their original social security cards if we had been given one (one child had one, but one did not) as well as their new, amended birth certificates with my husband and me identified as parents. Our thought behind bringing numerous documents to the SSA office was that “more is more” in these cases. Changing the numbers was done at no cost to us, and while the interview in office did involve some time and many questions, the process was not difficult. While there, we were able to change our children’s parentage and name: one had an added middle name and changed his last name to ours after finalization. Our documents were verified, and SSA mailed the cards to us within a few weeks.
All that said, it is important to know that from then on, our children now have two social security numbers attached to their names. These numbers are merged, if known, and both numbers will follow them, although the newer, updated one is their official number. They should be aware of this as they get older and should have access to both numbers, if possible. We were cautioned several times during both SSA interviews to monitor the original number for fraudulent activity and were told that once our children reached 18 we needed to teach them to monitor it as well.
Not everyone feels the need to have a new social security number issued for their child after adoption; however, my husband and I felt that to safeguard their privacy and security, new numbers would aid in that attempt. Additionally, for us as parents, we were then able to open bank accounts for our children with their new numbers as well as claiming our children as dependents on our tax returns and finalizing our children on our medical insurance—all of which require social security numbers.
Jennifer Kraft is a 20+ year veteran teacher turned stay-at-home mom and co-founder with her husband of Chosen One Ministries, an online adoption resource and adoption story collection. She and her husband chose adoption as the avenue to grow their family to honor her husband’s roots in adoption. Jennifer is passionate about children’s books that celebrate diversity, going on adventures with her two kids, vacuuming Cheerios of the carpet, and spending her life savings on graduate degrees in education. She currently lives in New Jersey.