So there we were, the four of us standing in the airport with our backpacks full of travel snacks and luggage full of sunscreen and swimsuits, ready to hit the beach in Mexico with our friends the Etters and the Walls. We had our tickets, our passports, and the girls' birth certificates. Some of you might know where this is heading...
We couldn't get on the plane. Starting January of this year, birth certificates are no longer accepted for children flying in and out of the country - they need their own passports. Toddlers. Need passports. I never would have thought to check on children's passports since as long as I've known a birth certificate has been sufficient. It's our fault we didn't know, but sheesh, passports for children? Really?
So we took the long drive back home while trying to scramble to find a way to get everyone down to Ixtapa, which is as south in Mexico as you can get. We tried to get an emergency passport but those aren't available on the weekends. We tried to get a flight on Monday or Tuesday but that particular flight is only available on Saturday. We thought about driving (since birth certificates are OK for driving or boating into the country - makes sense, right?) but then remembered that we're not lunatics. Then we thought about Megan flying the girls to south Texas where I would drive and pick them up to drive the rest of the way through Mexico, but then we realized again that we're not lunatics. And all these options would have cost us several thousand dollars more than we had already spent on the trip.
I measured the girls to see if they'd fit in our carry-on luggage.
Eventually we had to give up and accept the fact that we were not going to make our vacation. Kate didn't know what was going on, which was lucky, but Clara wanted to go to the beach with Andrew and Justin Etter. She understood that something was wrong because Megan was upset at the airport, so Clara crawled into her lap and comforted her. "Mommy cried because we forgot our papers."
We were all a bit sad this weekend. The more I thought about it, the more angry I got about the new child passport requirement. It boggles my mind that a toddler needs a passport. For "Homeland Security" reasons? Really?
I present the new targets of paranoia:
One of the reasons mentioned for the requirement is to curb child abduction, but evidently it's OK to abduct a child by car or boat. Even an infant needs a passport! This is what an infant passport looks like:
Can someone explain to me how this passport is supposed to stop a child abduction? First off, almost all child abductions are by a family member, who I'm sure would have just as much access to the child's passport as he or she has to the child. But in the (thankfully) super-rare instance that the abductor is not a family member, the holder of the passport above can abduct any 1-year-old child and use this passport. Do you honestly think an immigration official would say, "I'm sorry, Mr. Surnameredacted, your child does not look like the infant in this passport. This infant looks quite blobby and doesn't have nearly as much hair as your child does." And this passport will work until 2012!