After about 8 months of filing passports, birth certificates, not-married certificates and affidavits with the state of california apostille stamps, Thanh and I are now allowed to be married this September 5th, 2003 in the Netherlands. Through this lengthy process our marriage will now be internationally recognized and we will receive an international marriage certificate. Maybe one of these days, I will write down the exact procedure, since there are a fair amount of not-so-obvious hoops to jump through.
Our main issues were related to the fact that three different countries from different continents were involved. All the different documents from Cambodia, the Netherlands and the United States of America needed to be recognized by all three countries or at least by dutch government officials in the Hague. I needed some documents from the city hall of the city that I left when moving to the California and they only provide those documents in person at the city hall. We also had to make payment to the resident affairs department in the Hague, where the only means of payment accepted was the dutch giro wire transfer. Thankfully, my mother had previously planned to visit my grandparents in the Netherlands and was able to take care of it in person after I provided her with a copy of my passport and a letter giving her permission to extract the information from the archive. Similarly we were almost required to make a trip to Bangkok, Thailand to have Thanhs birth certificate verified by the Cambodian Embassy and Dutch Embassy of Bangkok.
The procedure is long and confusing. The main part that makes it confusing is that each country only knows their part of the puzzle and you have to make your own conclusions as to how to get the document in the foreign country. We even got told that we needed the Secretary of State to sign one of documents. That, obviously, wasn't going to happen. It turned out that it needed to be signed by the State of California, Secretary which was much easier and had a well documented procedure.
We got our banns of marriage published by the Hague and we need to wait for that to complete. It is interesting to note how much religion is still integrated into government documents and procedures. I personally feel that religion and government are totally separate identities and they should not discriminate based on citizenship or faiths, but we still have a while to go before they are truly separate entities.
So, we have only a little more then a month to go. I can't wait. I am pretty excited about it. I'll try to provide updates on other happenings such as the San Diego Comic-Con and geeky findings in a later Journal entry.