Thursday, June 4, 2009

Passport Hell

I am in passport hell!!!

I am pretty sure there is a hell here on earth that torments anyone who needs passports FAST, and I am in that hell.

I am not complaining per-say, because the fact remains that I may (or may not) be going somewhere in five weeks that actually requires a passport. But the operative word here is "FIVE" weeks.

So and Ro received their first passports when they were six and three months old respectively. Passports expire after five years, which means So and Ro who are now 6 1/2 and 5 years old, ne
ed renewals. But the real mess comes with trying to get a passport for a two week old baby.

{I digress for a moment to say, that at eight days old, said baby was in fact given a name, but I have been pondering how to refer to him for the sake of this blog, since I do not use my children's real names. For the first seven days, we called him "Bruiser" due to his enormous shoulders and chest girth, but his initials are A. M. However, A.M. can get complicated, so I think I will add the "B" and he is now "Bam". As in only ONE Bam, because he is not a baby living in a cartoon like stone-age.}

To make my life a bit easier, I sent Hun with the girls to a local grocery store last night where they take passport photos. It actually made sense since my foreign born husband needs to renew hi
s foreign passport, requiring pictures as well. They left at 7:30 and at 8:30 pm they were still not home. I called Hun to see if he decided to shop for food we did not need or if he was consumed by the fiery travails of passport hell.


It was taking over an hour because the guy attempting to get appropriate passport pictures out of my kids and Hun, had no training in this particular area of expertise. (Yes - one needs to be an expert in passport photo taking.)

An hour and a half later Hun returned home with the lovely photos (apparently rule 1. of passport photo Hell -
not allowed to show teeth).

Even before I could think of taking Bam for photos, we had to consider the possibility that we may be leaving the country as soon as he was born. This possibility had us putting a name (not his g
iven Hebrew name) on the birth certificate while in the hospital so it could be processed immediately. Even so, it still would have taken three weeks to receive the birth certificate if Hun had not gone directly to the registrar's office two days after Bam was born to pick up the birth certificate copies directly from a woman who went out of her way to expedite the process for us. This shaved four weeks off the time needed, in order to use the birth certificate to apply for the passport.

I am also still currently confused about whether o
r not Bam needs his Social Security number for the passport. The website says you do, but when called, I was informed that I could fill in nine zeroes in place of his not yet assigned number. I certainly hope this is the case, since I have been informed that the social security number may take 12 weeks to be assigned.

Today I planned to take the baby Bam to have his glamour shoot done. First I had to take him to Ate and Ro's school to drop them off. We then had to continue directly to Dunkin Donuts to pick up munchkins for the small birthday party I was to make Ate in school at 10:45. Then we returned home for lots of nursing. By the time Bam finished breakfast and two snacks we had to return to Ate's school for aforementioned birthday party - fifteen minutes of birthday bliss.

He's THREE!!!

Then I thought it would be a good idea to go to Walgreens to get his glamour shot passport photo taken. (Hun told me not to go to the grocery store.) I had to wait over ten minutes until someone even came to the camera counter. Then they asked me if Bam was awake.
(apparently rule 2. of passport Hell - a two week old baby somehow has to time his passport photo shoot with his passing moment of eyes wide open.)

Did Walgreens have some pliers? Because that is what it would take to get his eyes open.

So I asked, what do people who don't have eyes do? Are they allowed to leave the country?

Of course the two women at the camera counter thought that was a rhetorical question...

So now I had a baby who would not open his eyes and a pull down screen that would require me to stand off to the side and hold Bam out in front of said, screen.
(apparently rule 3. of passport Hell - the arms of
a secondary person who may be required to hold a two week old baby out in front of a screen is not allowed to be seen in a passport picture.)

I am starting to wonder if I am THE first ever person to attempt to take a two week old baby out of the country. It would probably be easier to smuggle him out at this point.

Then one of the lovely "Indian" women who was not optimistic about taking a passport photo of Bam at Walgreens, sugg
ested I take him to a professional studio that takes passport photos on D. street where the "Indian" community resides. I only bring up the fact that she was Indian because she had a very heavy Indian accent and things get lost in translation.

"Dey aw bery bery good at pwofessional poto pace."

"I used to go to a place on D. street called Sooter Studios, in fact, I went there on Monday in the rain with three older kids and a crying baby, parking a block away and taking a walk, only to find out they are not there anymore..."

"Yep cuz He is bery bery dead

"Who - he, he - who, Mr.Sooter?"

"Yep he is bery bery dead, dey wo not der fo bery bery lung time."

"So when I called just the other day and heard an answering message that I had reached Sooter Studios and they were away from the phones, was that message from the grave? Wow Mr. Sooter re
ally is bery bery, I mean very very far away from the phone."

"Deb is anober poto pace on D. and Ugly steet."

Translation (I think) - There is another photo place on D. and Ugly(?) street.

I had no idea where Ugly street was, but I figured if I went down to D. street and made a left, I might find it.

So I thanked Walgreens photo lady and gathered my closed eyed baby up and off I went.

I made a left turn on D. street and made it to what turned out to be "Oakley" street, where I noticed a photo studio th
at let me know from five different posts in the window that they indeed take passport photos - ready in under three minutes.

As soon as I walked in and was greeted by,

"Hebo, can I heb pu?"

I knew this was not going to go sm

He told me that his assistant was not there and that I would need to help to make Bam's photos appropriate for legal passport use.

First - I had to get the baby to open his eyes...

"Umm, he is still 2 weeks old, has not changed sin
ce I left Walgreens."

"My wipe hap a baby two weeps abo too, May teniet."

"Huh? Your wipes make babies weep?"

Five more times and I realized that his wife had a b
aby two weeks ago on May 20th.

Also then the guy berated me for not holding my baby with enough support of his head and neck.

Listen buddy, I managed to keep three other kids he
ads screwed on just right, just tell me how to get the picture done.

So apparently I am supposed to sit on a stool with a white sheet thrown over me while I use my hands under the sheet to hold Bam who is sitting above the sheet.

I swear - it looks like the Ku Klux Klan has my baby.

In the meantime my arms are of little use under the sheet and his head keeps flopping over (because it has already been established that I do not know how to support a newborn head an
d neck).
(apparently rule 4. of passport Hell - two week old babies with floppy head syndrome are never going to leave the country.)

So we try something different. We remove my "Uppa Baby Bubble" from the infant car seat (If you don't know what that is, google it. An amazing baby product that should have existed years ago.), we lay the white sheet over the car seat and then sit Bam back in it on the white sheet.
(apparently rule 5. of passport Hell - the Gove
rnment passport agency keeps voting on the ever lovely skin pigment draining background color of white.)

By now, with all the time that has passed, Bam begins to stir, but he is getting fussy. His eyes open intermittently, but then he wails and his hands keep coming up to his face and the photographer misses his opportunity.
(Rules 6 and 7 of passport Hell - in addition to teeth, also toothless gums, not appropriate for passport photos and hands are n
ot allowed to exist on passport subjects, at least as far as the picture is concerned. But we ARE still looking for EYES.)

And then the Indian photo guy says,
"I tink he my be hunby now."

"I have no idea what you said, but I am pretty sure he is hungry now......oh, and he needs to unload in his nether regions."

Of course, I was not about to whip "one" out in the co
mpany of photo guy, so I decided now was a good time for one of Bam's supplemental bottles of formula, only I then realized that I would have to go back to the car to get it.

So I took Bam and his blanket and carried him across a very busy D. street to go get the diaper bag I irresponsibly left in the car, and then returned. I fed him in his car seat, while he sat on the white sheet and watched as he opened his murky, still ambiguously col
ored eyes, and heard the loudest rumbles coming from his nether regions, and I could only think,

"Oh please G-d, don't leak anything yellow on photo guy's white sheet."

And then the bottle came out and he was wide - ey
ed and content and I yelled,


It took about 12 shots, some re-arranging of the head, a couple belches and more bottle, but we finally got it. I hope!

Of course, a bit of photo shopping was required, an
d the photos were so NOT ready in under 3 minutes. The whole visit took well over an hour and a half. By the time I was finished, I had to return to Ate and Ro's school for pick-up. But Bam left the sheet as white as it was when we got there.

Anyway - here is hoping that my visit with the thr
ee kids to the post-office to process these passports goes way more smoothly. (If you know anything about the post-office in my neighborhood, you would understand why I am not holding my breath.)

And I now leave you with the "Glamour Shots"

8 have shown Orah a little love:

Anonymous said...

In the end, they all look smashing in their photos. Would not want to have been in your shoes today though!
HAPPY Birthday to Ate!!

- Miss S.

Rayli said...

i totally needed this tonight! hahahaha so funny! the picture of BAM is perfect. eyes totally open... no gums... where's ATE's pic?

adinab said...

ok...first of all, when we took estee for her passport pics when she was a baby, the guy laid the sheet on the floor, laid her on top of it, and then took the pic that way. no one had to hold her, she was straight, no prob.

secondly, you do NOT need a social to get your passport. Cobi didn't have one yet when we got HIS passport.

Third, you should find out, but I think both parents are supposed to be present when you go to the post office to apply for it, cuz i think they both need to sign stuff or something.

fourth, the pics came out really cute!!

and lastly, thank you so much for reminding me. I gotta get Rami his passport if we plan on leaving the country for succos!

Heidi @ Tayterjaq's Rebels said...

I know exactly what you are going through with the passport thing. Except we were living in GERMANY trying to get a passport for a two week old. (We succeeded by having relatives in the states call the American Consulate and we had one in 2 sooo pays to have a sil working in a senators office)
My husbands arms are totally visible in the picture and it took 3 rounds at one of those little booths like you see at the mall to get open eyes. Not nearly as difficult as your trip but you should hear how long it took to get her passed through at the airport. Did you know that babies...and their mommies...need doctors notes to fly before 6 weeks postpartum? We were at the military base's(read American) airport and the notes we brought were both in German.

Sorry I wrote a book on your comment page. Sometimes when I get started on a story I just can't stop.

Happy Birthday Ate!

Heidi @ Tayterjaq's Rebels said...

Oh...and Bam is sooo cute!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

What a day!

Bam is a cutie!
Happy birthday Ate!

And is this a bad time to mention that you can take your own passport photos at home?

Orah said...

Rayli - Ate's passport is still good until 2012, one less kid to worry about.

Adina - I left out the part where Hun filled out a form giving consent to the passport and I had to get it notarized (so he did not have to be there).

Heidi - I like books, and good thing you made it back out of Germany. said...


Love the question about people with no eyes leaving the country!!! LOL!

Yeah, for the new name-BAM! Awesome!

Happy Belated Birthday to

Your kids are still adorable...even without teeth :)

Thank you so much for all of you kind words of support. They bring me much comfort :)

I treasure the friendship that this blog is allowing us to create.