Having a First Baby Overseas for US Expats
Ines Zemelman, EAJan-15-2016
Are you heading overseas for the first time while thinking about having your first baby?
If you are on your first overseas assignment and considering having your first child, there are some things you should consider before making that commitment. There are many advantages to having and raising a child abroad. Your child will have the opportunity to be bilingual (at minimum) and will be introduced to a variety of cultures. It’s important to consider every angle of having a child and make sure you are fully prepared.
If you are in a country that’s new to you, remember that there are different customs and health care practices than those to which you’ve become accustomed.
Not only are there different health care standards and customs, but there is also generally a language barrier that could prevent optimal success. Be sure to learn as much as possible about these things before you decide to have a baby in a foreign country. If you find out that the healthcare system is not everything you need it to be, you may consider commuting back to the US to get the proper prenatal and postnatal care you need for a healthy baby.
It is recommended that you build a strong network of friends and family. This may be difficult in a foreign country that’s new to you.
Having a network of friends and/or family can make all the difference in raising a child. It’s hard to face parenting challenges alone without supportive friendships. Raising a newborn can be tough, and the loneliness that ensues when you’re practically doing it alone can be overwhelming. Also, you may want to go back to work soon. You will need to become familiar with available daycares or babysitters. Be aware that payments to foreign child care provider are tax deductible even if the nanny or the day care facility does not have U.S. tax ID number.
Getting the U.S. Social Security Number for your newborn.
Find out if your child born abroad qualifies for the U.S. Social Security number. If yes, apply for it as soon as possible at the nearest U.S. Embassy in your country of residence. The processing time vary depending on the area of the world where you live from 6 weeks in Western Europe to 6-8 months if you live the developing countries.
Having the Social Security will be necessary to report your child as a dependent and claim various child benefits, tax exemptions, deductions and credits.
Research the area in which you want to live and take time to become more familiar with the predominant language.
Remember to minimize the language barrier by brushing up on your skills for the primary language in the country to which you will be moving. You can find parent and play groups online. You can also find a group of US Expats who support each other in their foreign ventures. Also, find your residence by looking for a house or an apartment that is close to everything you might need (or at least most of it). Having these places near your residence will make it more convenient for you to get out and walk with your child. Living in an urban area will also make it more likely for you to make friends and build your network.
Work with your spouse to come up with a regular schedule that works for the entire family.
A balanced schedule that encompasses various activities (exercise, housework, time to get out and meet or associate with friends, etc). It’s important that you and your spouse work together to make the most out of your decision to have a baby while living abroad. It will be important, too for you to allow for time with just the both of you.