By Mary Pritchard, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Douglas and Judith Adair, with their children Amy and Alex, arrived in the United States for the first time in 1998 when Douglas’s work brought them here from England for 16 months. Judith said they were excited to return in 2001 when her husband’s work brought them back to the United States. The family officially declared this country “home” when Douglas and Judith became United States citizens in January.
“After 10 years green cards are renewed,” Judith said. “At any time they can choose not to renew them. We’ve made a life here and wanted to stay, be part of the U.S., and make it permanent so we applied for citizenship.”
An immigration lawyer helped them navigate the five-month process and gather the required information, which Judith described as very detailed, including all travel outside the United States since they moved here; where they went, when, and the duration of each trip.
“We had to provide information on our parents, our full background, fingerprints, and were given 100 citizenship questions to study,” Judith said. “We had a booklet and a CD to study. I listened to the CD in the car every day and Douglas and I quizzed each other.”
Judith, a secretary at Spring Street School in Shrewsbury, enlisted the help of the fourth graders.
“Each class was given 25 of the questions and I asked them to quiz me,” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea because immigration is part of the fourth-grade curriculum so we all could be learning together. They were very excited. I made one visit to each classroom and each student asked one of the questions. I got them all correct.”
The next step was an interview and the test.
“During separate interviews we were asked questions about our background and our intentions in the United States,” Judith said. “Out of the 100 questions we studied, we were asked 10 and had to answer six correctly. After the interview, you are told whether or not you are being recommended for citizenship.
“Our own kids, Amy, 25, and Alex, 22, were very proud of us. They were 11 and 8 years old when we moved here and they plan to become citizens as well. We definitely have a feeling of permanency. All of our family is still in England and Scotland but they understand why we want to be here. We became citizens during a ceremony at Mechanics Hall with 85 countries represented and more than 500 people.”
The fourth-graders at her school were very excited to find out they had been approved to become citizens.
On her first day to work as a United States citizen, Judith arrived to a large American Flag made with students’ handprints, signs, patriotic decorations and traditional American foods made by colleagues. She received many emails and cards from students and parents celebrating her citizenship.
“Every student handed me a little flag and two classes sang ‘Proud to be an American’ to me,” she said. “It became a real community affair at school and it was a very patriotic event. I was surprised at how emotional I felt. I am very proud to be a citizen of the country I have called home for the last 14 years. My children have been educated here from elementary through college so we have all made a life here. I also feel more a member of our community as I am now able to vote on issues that affect me and my family.”