Monday, October 08, 2007

let me save you the trouble

Thankfully, Josh is liking his new job. That is a huge relief on my part, of course. He likes the people, the work is interesting, the hours are relatively good, and he feels challenged. In my opinion, though, the best part about Josh's new job is that it has a ridiculously extravagant perk. His company flies all employees and their families to Europe for a holiday party. The whole family. To Europe. For a PARTY. They pay for the flights and the hotels and the parties and the babysitting. Crazy, huh?

All of this means that Gabriel needs a passport and he needs it in time for December. We looked on the State Department's webpage and downloaded the forms and made a list of the items we need. We took him down to the neighborhood drugstore and tried to get pictures. It turns out that getting a passport picture of a 9 month old is not the easiest thing in the world. It took 3 unsuccessful tries, and we finally had to go to a different drugstore that had more experience with babies and we were finally able to get the two pictures we needed with his head centered and no shadows and without Josh's hands showing where he was holding him still. Phew.

I filled out all the information, looked up the appropriate locations and set off with Gabe to get the passport taken care of.

I arrived at 9:30am, and was told that I was too early. Passports will only be completed between 10am and 1pm. Oh, and also, both parents need to be there or I need a letter from Gabe's father authorizing me to get him a passport. I went home, Josh typed up a letter, and I went back between 10am and 1pm the next day. Oops, they forgot to mention that I need a notarized letter, not just any letter, and just so you know, they won't budge on that.

Josh doesn't have a notary in his office, so we searched the Boston post offices until we found one post office that would stay open until 6:30pm completing passports. Josh left work early so that we could meet at the doors at 6pm to give us enough time to get all the paperwork completed and just a little bit of cushion time in case things went awry.

We get there and discover that the line is snaking throughout the post office and out the door. One thing you should know about Josh is that he is a planner, so he takes this opportunity to freak out about the possibility that they might cut off the line when the clock hits 6:30pm and we'll have to start over again and wait a week because they only stay open until 6:30 on Tuesdays. I'm happy to report that they did NOT close the line, and after 45 minutes in line, they take our paperwork. Even though we have 10 weeks to go, the post office doesn't recommend we rely on the State Department to get us his passport in time. We have to pay $60 extra, $150 total, to get his passport by mid-December.

We sent off the paperwork, paid the fees, and can now say that Gabe should be able to accompany us to Europe for the party. Honestly, though, who would have thought that getting a passport for a baby would be this much trouble? So just in case you foresee yourselves traveling anytime soon with a child who doesn't have a passport, let us save you the heartache and send away from it way way way ahead of time. Like more than 3 months ahead of time. That advice is free of charge.

My consolation prize is that for the next 5 years, Gabe's sweet little 9 month old face will be his passport picture. At least some things won't change around here for a while.


Knitting Mama said...

In Canada your child can get a free passport (updated picture) after the first one is done within the next 2 years after that. And a child passport is only 23$ (compared to the adult one that is 86$ or so - thanks for reminding me, I have to get a new one!) But after the age of 3 I think, they get theirs also for 5 years. Sean doesnt even have a passport yet, I was waiting til we actually have a reason to cross the border to get one, and currently we can enter the USA without one, until Jan 1st.

susan said...

Just in case anyone reading is every planning on getting a Certificate of Citizenship for an infant/toddler (for which three photos are required, not two as for a passport, with a slightly different facial angle), it would be worth it to go to a professional photographer. I couldn't get three identical pictures of Curious Girl for her CoC at the drugstore (something it took way, way too long for them to realize). Paying $25 to a professional photographer who did it in instant, relatively, was well worth it. He knew how to handle the kid photo.

Can I get a job like Josh's? That is one amazing perk!

kathy a. said...

amazing perk!

my baby was born in japan, in a military hospital, so her first passport featured a photo taken at one day. i had some difficulty with the state dept. rep who told me i would have to change my name for my child to get a passport, but fortunately the supervisor understood that sometimes mothers keep their own names and that is, um, LEGAL. that took 2 hours in a waiting room with a newborn and a one-year-old. so much fun, i have not had since.

glad to say that renewal is easier -- we got photos of daughter taken at a UPS store, and a fast line at the post office.

have a great trip!

Rev Dr Mom said...

Frickin' ridiculous what you have to go through these days!

But what a perk!

jo(e) said...

It made me tired just to read that whole story. What a hassle!

Lady Liberal said...

Not trying to burst your free-Europe bubble, but you might want to make a contingency plan... I know of at least 4 people who have recently applied for passports (at least 3 of them applying for kids) and have had considerably longer waits than they were told to anticipate- even with "expedited" service. Case in point is SarahLynn
You may have to really ride someone and perhaps even contact a lawmaker or two. Seriously.
Apparently the govt. very seriously underestimated the impact of the changes to the passport rules for travel to Mexico and the Carribean. Surprise!
Think maybe you could smuggle him onto the plane as Josh's undergrown but very cute conjoined twin? ;)

Anonymous said...

OMG I know! Anna Sofia's passport picture is adorable. I think she was about the same age. 9 or 10 months. Just precious. Like a little baby mugshot. ha ha ha

liz said...

What a fantastic perq!