Mere days after I concluded that I did not, in fact, have a ‘big’ family, we went to the U.S. Consulate. The Canadian-born baby did not have a passport. And the British-born five year old was the proud owner of an expired passport. Even though I wasn’t in the mood to plunk down money for a new passport for the big kid, I was kind of excited at the thought of replacing his ‘three-month-old’ picture with something a little more current.
After all, the kid isn’t a baby anymore. He has hair. And eyes that can focus. And no rolls under his chin. His official likeness should reflect that.
But even with such a minor incentive, I was still dreading the experience. Which is probably why I postponed it for nearly two months. Something about trying to get kids to behave in an orderly fashion in an office where loud screaming is frowned upon. And a long wait is all but guaranteed.
So, if you’re thinking of moving to Canada and having a baby, but the one thing that’s holding you back is the mystery surrounding how to get a U.S. passport for the baby, look no further.
Step one: get a birth certificate. This requires going to the ‘Registry’ office and paying 35$. And waiting about a week for a phone call to let you know that it has arrived and you may return to pick it up.
Step two: find a pocket of time to go to the Consulate, which is open to the public from 8.30am-12pm. If you’re at all prone to feelings of procrastination or dread, as in ‘ugh, I don’t want to do that today’, this step will take nearly two months.
Step three: arrive at Consulate and endure airport-like search of property and person.
Step four: fill out two sets of passport paperwork (which requires a modicum of concentration) while trying to singlehandedly keep two boys plied with candy in the hopes of eliciting their quiet cooperation. ‘Singlehandedly’, because…..
Step four (a): send husband out of Consulate to take passport pictures of newborn. Yes, this could have been done ahead of time. But that’s not how we roll.
Step four (b): husband returns with newborn and pictures, departs with five year old for a repeat of step 4a
Step five: fill out Social Security and Consular Report of Birth Abroad forms while holding wailing pacifier-less baby. (Pacifier is in pocket of husband’s pants, most likely).
Step five (a): glare at husband when he finally returns with five year old (and two year old) and more passport pictures. And baby’s pacifier in his pants pocket.
Step six: color with oldest son on the floor of the consulate while waiting for them to review paperwork.
Step seven: make mental note to find marriage license and fax it in
Step eight: husband departs Consulate again to go get cash because their credit card machine isn’t working, prompting security guard to warn husband that ‘this is the last time’ he will let him back in. Apparently one may only leave and be re-admitted three times on a particular day. Who knew?!
Step nine: swear that information on forms is true. All while baby is crying, boys are knocking chairs over and yelling about various things. As the 3 other people waiting in the office look on at this ‘zoo’ of a family. And then I realize, three kids is a lot. We have a big family. Sign forms.
Step ten: pay….270$ for two passports and a consular report of birth abroad form; 30$ for two sets of pictures; 10$ for an envelope so they can mail the passports to you; and 10$ for parking.
Two hours later, we leave the building 320$ poorer. And late for Kindergarten, again. I wonder how long it would have taken if the office had actually been busy?