Yesenia Pena-Ducos has lived in Raleigh for 13 years. She is a naturalized citizen.
About a year and a half ago, she married a man from Puerto Rico and started the process of adopting his son, who was also born in Puerto Rico.
Everything was going great until Pena-Ducos said some employees at the state records office told her that her son was not a United States citizen.
"She was extremely rude. I'm a very nice person. She was rude," said Pena-Ducos. "She was not knowledgeable of what I was saying. She treated me like I was ignorant and I didn't know what I was talking about."
When Pena-Ducos adopted her son through the Wake County Court System, she was told the North Carolina Office of Vital Records would send his birth certificate.
"When I get the birth certificate, it looks funny to me," she said after the certificate read Certificate of Identification for Child of Foreign Birth. "I left a voicemail for two weeks. She was not returning my calls."
Pena-Docus said she finally got in touch with her case worker and said the woman and her supervisor told her it wasn't their job to verify the boy's citizenship.
"They really couldn't see how what I was saying was true because Puerto Rico was a country and it wasn't their job to naturalize anyone and I needed an immigration attorney," said Pena-Docus. "I was upset because of their ignorance."
ABC11 reached out to the people at the state's Vital Records Office. We got a similar run around.
Pena-Ducos said the supervisor called her back and apologized. She said she'd return the money she spent on her son's birth certificate.
Pena-Ducos said she'll get the correct paperwork from Puerto Rico. She just can't believe these state employees didn't know better.
"You take the United States and I would say 80 percent of people know that," she said Pena-Ducos. "You take these educated people like the people from the Vital Records, like the people who work for the government, but they did not know. Neither of them knew."
After speaking to several employees with the state Vital Records Office and two spokespeople, they said, "Customer service is a priority for the Department of Health and Human Services and our Vital Records staff has spoken with the Ducos to apologize for this error. Her refund and the corrected request are being processed."