Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Vacation for You!

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!


/end rant


Traci said...

OMG! And here for the last few days I've been picturing you all vacactioning in the sun and sand! This is so horrible!

Not only do kids now have to have passports...you have to apply IN PERSON! I know this because I've been thinking of getting passports for the kids...y'know, just in case the country continues to go down the toilet! ;)

I'm so sorry about your vacation. That just plain SUCKS. Does this mean that the Etters had passports? or did the same thing happen to them?


Anonymous said...

Of course the Etters had passports. Have you ever met Michelle? In fact, she even mentioned last fall that I should get passports for the girls. Since I had just reviewed the state dept. website earlier that summer I thougth I understood the requirement. I failed to see that the law was changing in January.

We did get pics from the Etters yesterday and they seem to be having a wonderful time. I just hope we didn't also ruin their vacation.

Joel, thanks for posting this blog. It made me laugh:) A much needed laugh since I've been crying for 3 days now.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

I am sooo sorry. You can visit Seattle without a passport and we will take you to the beach (with your snow clothes on of course) and come back home to margarita's for all of age!!!
Love You

Mark Schulte, Jr. said...

That sucks guys... sorry to hear about all the trouble.

Tix•R•Us said...

I imagine the same sort of rants of disbelief happened with the dawn of passports. "What? I gotta have a PERMIT to go over there?" and Drivers Licenses... You mean I have to get PERMISSION to drive MY OWN VEHICLE??? In some countries you must have serious ID papers on you all the time because the cops can stop and ask for any reason.

Jennifer said...

Sorry we missed you in Mexico! I have been saving your Christmas card, which was returned to me in Dec. because I didn't have your current address! Well, I will send it now. Our picture on the card speaks for us then, and for how we felt about not getting to see you all!!!

Jen, Geoff & Sierra

Gregg said...

I had a BABY passport for one of my daughters. We were also going to Mexico and this was right after 9/11, so we go the kids passports "just in case" the rules changed overnight.

I actually thought it was quite funny, just because by the time the passport arrived, she already didn't look anything like her picture. In fact, that could have been a picture of just about any Gerber baby look alike.