The Great Border Debate

Living where we do, there has been a great amount of interest from the community in where our baby will be born, and the citizenship issues that come with it.  As most of you should know by now, I live in Canada.  I grew up outside of the same small city my whole life, and moved to ‘The Big City’ when I was 17.  And last year we moved to a tiny little town that is right on the Canada/USA border.

We are 1 hour from the closest Canadian hospital that offers maternity services, and as a result our Provincial Government has arranged to cover any expenses incurred if we choose to use the hospital closest to us in the States.  This is very commonly done, and provides what many consider amazing ‘opportunities’ for the children born there.  Dual citizenship being one of them.

dual citizenship

The other day I attended my first ‘Healthy Baby’ program.  It is a community service program that offers resources to new and expecting mothers, and although I didn’t take away much from the ‘info session’ (it’s really geared towards a certain demographic of mothers who may not have access to information or supports from friends and family as they start out on their parenting journey) I did meet a lot of other moms, and including myself, there were 5 women who are expecting!

I am the only one with plans to deliver in Canada, and I was met with a lot of questions not about why I am choosing to do so, but why we’re choosing NOT to deliver in the US.

It really comes down to a few simple reasons, and although not the popular choice, I feel it is the right decision for us.  Here are the top 3 comments that have been brought up, and our feelings on why delivering in Canada is better for us.

1. “But the USA hospital is so much closer.”  This is true, between 8 am and 12 am the hospital in the USA is about 15-20 minutes from our home (including a trip through customs).  The Canadian hospital is a solid hour’s drive.  It does make sense to want to be at the closest hospital, however what gets forgotten is that between midnight and 8am the closest customs port is closed.  Requiring a longer trip around through the nearest 24 hour crossing.  This makes the distance to either hospital just about equal, and as such is not enough reason alone for us to want to deliver there.

2. “The hospital is so much nicer, and the care is excellent”.  While I have no prior experience to compare this to, and I have no doubts that lots of women are very happy with the care they receive at the closest US hospital, I do not personally feel comfortable with the practices described by the mothers who have had babies there.  In the Healthy Baby group I was the only expectant mother to not have a scheduled induction or c-section date.  That is a concern for me.  I am perfectly happy letting Baby Bumpkin cook until he is ready to make his appearance, unless there is a founded medical reason for either intervention, I’m much more comfortable waiting it out.  I am also under Midwife care.  This would not be an option in the US hospital.  I have been so wonderfully cared for that I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that experience.  The Canadian hospital, may not be of the same ‘standard’ (I really don’t know as I haven’t been able to compare) but they have facilities available that lead me to believe that they are able to provide adequate care for me and baby, and that’s good enough for me.

3. “Don’t you want your baby to have dual citizenship, it provides all kinds of great opportunities”.  Being a dual citizen is a really neat bonus of being born in the US to Canadian parents.  This is the number 1 comment we get on a regular basis, and has caused many back and forth conversations between Hubby Bumpkin and I about whether this decision is the right one for us.  Canada and the US, from what I’ve read are 2 of the only developed countries that still allow dual citizens.  In a big way, that fact alone makes me a little nervous about the long term benefits.  I could see the “dualie program” as it’s been nicknamed in our area being done away with, and for that reason it would provide no benefit in the long run.  As well, looking years down the road, if our child was a dual citizen, married another dual, (as most children in our area are) and they have a baby also born in the very same hospital in the US, that baby would not be a Canadian citizen, and would This is a problem some of the mothers at the group were discussing.  I heard many say “If only I had known what a hassle that would be, I would have just had him in __________(the closest Canadian hospital).”  That makes me uncomfortable.  As well complications arise around tax time including being required to file with the IRS, even when no work or income was received in the States.  I also worry about the possible implications as different governments go in and out of power.  All of these are ‘what ifs’ and not very important in the mean time, but they do get tacked onto the “con” list in our house.

The benefits of dual citizenship would include the ability to work or attend school across the border.  After careful consideration, we feel that there isn’t enough benefit from this to deliver Baby Bumpkin there.  In the future if the subject came up, we decided that we would help support him in filing the correct visas and applying through the available channels later in life for work or schooling opportunities but as a ‘birth right’, it’s just not for us.

Over all, there is little difference where Baby Bumpkin and his peers are born.  What is right for our family might not be a good decision for another, and that’s ok!   Living in the area we do there are all kinds of neat opportunities, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each.  Over time I know I’m going to really appreciate having raised our family making decisions that we feel are best for us.  I only hope that others can understand and respect our decisions, even when it’s the ‘weird thing’ to do!

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