Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Passport

We received River’s passport today – just over a week after submitting the application. We used the express service, but I was still amazed, based on the long delays I’ve heard about recently. Kudos to the Passport office for getting its act together.

The passport is quite beautiful now. Every page has an etched drawing of an American landmark – much more impressive than when I got my passport.

The funniest thing about it is River’s photo. It took us three days to get a picture of our one-month old that complied with all the rules – face forward, white background, no adult body parts showing. I don’t think the people who came up with these rules ever tried to take such a picture of an infant.

I took him in one day and the clerk said his eyes also needed to be open. It was impossible to do that, plus all the above. When we had no success after an hour or so, she suggested coming back the next day. Mark returned the next day after River had been fed and napped. He got him to open his eyes but he had to hold him to keep his face forward. The tip of Mark’s finger appeared in the picture and the passport office rejected it. They told us it would be OK if his eyes are closed, but no adult body parts can be visible, even if they don’t obscure the face.

So I went back again. The CVS employee put River on a piece of white cardboard paper on top of the counter. Of course his head fell to the side and he began to wail. He only cries with his eyes closed. We walked out with a picture of his eyes scrunched shut and his mouth in a wide, open O. It looks nothing like him on a day-to-day basis.

Now it’s embedded in a beautiful passport, under an elegant eagle, and will serve as his identification for the next five years. Just imagining him as a four year old showing that photo to a border control agent as his photo ID cracks me up. Even now, it’s hard to see how it will be used as identification. But in any case, he’s officially prepared to begin his world travels and I’m excited on his behalf.

He made it to Bolivia, Ecuador and Germany while still in the womb. His first trip on an independent passport will be to Mexico this March at age 3 months.

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