Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So very ready for summer

Summer Vacation starts for Ann next week and it couldn't be coming at a better time, unless you're thinking of two or three weeks ago, in which case, yes, I guess it could have come at a better time.

About four times per week we've strapped on our hiking shoes & put Wynn in the backpack to do a vigorous 40 minutes at the nearby park. These walks are something we did before going to China to improve our stamina and endurance; it worked for us then & it is working now. (I've lost six pounds so far this season and dropped a pants size.) With a little over two weeks to go before the Tokyo trip, we are putting more miles on on our nightly hikes than we're likely to walk each day while overseas.

Frustrating story developing with our government about getting Wynn's passport. We put her application on April 25, before we even booked the trip, and with plenty of time for processing. We know that there are more applications being processed than usual because of new border-crossing rules, but as we hit Week 6 of waiting, we started getting antsy. Well, two days ago we received a letter from the State Department saying they couldn't process her application further because they needed her Certificate of Citizenship issued by the US CIS back in 2007.

Now, I'll note what the passport application instructions say we have to provide for a child:

STEP 2: Submit Evidence of US Citizenship (One of the following):
  • Previously issued, undamaged US Passport
  • Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship
We included the birth certificate from the State of Minnesota. That would seem to meet what the rules spell out - after all, it says ONE of the following... but apparently, if you've adopted from overseas, there are Super Secret Rules you don't get told about.

All the more frustrating: the letter was written from the Passport Center on June 2, not mailed until June 3, and took a full five days to get here. Why, I ask then, do they want us to give them phone numbers and email addresses on the application form, if they're not going to use them when there's an issue?

Doing the math, it seemed dubious that I could get Wynn's Certificate of Citizenship down to the Passport Center (Charleston, SC), have them finish processing, and get the completed Passport up to Minnesota before the trip.

So, Monday night I called the National Passport Information Center looking for some clarification: was the Minnesota birth certificate not good enough? Doesn't the Homeland Security computer talk with the Social Security computer and the two of them talk with the State Department computer?

After an hour on hold, I finally got through to a live operator who quickly established she really couldn't help me at all, outside of proving that our government's computers do not talk with one another. "What does the letter say? Well, that's what you should do, then."

As this was now well after 9 pm, the only thing left for me to do was to run down to the nearest post office and send her Certificate of Citizenship out via overnight envelope. (I just checked the tracking code and it arrived in Charleston this afternoon.)

I'll have to call the NPIC on Friday (during work hours, I'm afraid) and sit on hold for who knows how long to find out whether they've resumed work on her application & when we'll get her actual Passport.

Meanwhile, I've been fighting a miserable cold since Sunday. Wynn just barfed up a bellyful of snot, and Ann is beginning to feel it in her throat and chest. No fever in any of us, so we think this is merely a cold. They're scanning for fever among arriving passengers at Narita Airport in the H1N1 "crisis", so this had darned well better be a cold.

More later this week - still much to do. --Scott

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