Monday, June 29, 2009

O Canada

Last Thursday our order of adoption arrived in the mail. Wait, let me back up a minute. On Tuesday I got a phone call from CJ saying that the courthouse couldn't read the faxed copy of his license and could I please re-fax it. Odd that it took them about a week and a half to figure out they couldn't read the fax, but whatever. So I faxed another copy of the license and received the order on Thursday. Friday morning I called the passport center to double check their address. I spoke to the same woman who has been dealing with our case these past few weeks and she assured me that this was the last piece of paperwork they needed. We could expedite the process if we needed to travel in the next few days (translation: send us money and we'll try to work slightly faster than a snail's pace); otherwise expect the passport in 2-3 weeks. Okay. Off I went to the mailbox to send in the order of adoption, the piece of paper that was of complete and utmost importance in order to process Paul's passport. Later that day I went out to get the mail and almost fell over when I saw what was inside. Paul's passport. No lie. Guess that super-critical piece of paper really wasn't that critical.
All sarcasm aside, we decided to celebrate with a trip to Canada this morning. CJ is off all week for the holiday and the weather was perfect. Upon arrival at Canadian customs I was confident that we would have no problems, and I proudly passed over our fresh passports. The woman looked us up and down and inquired if we were mother, father and child. Yes. And the boy is adopted? Yes. Do you have his adoption paperwork? Well, no, it is currently down in Charleston at the passport agency. It was required to acquire his PASSPORT. Ya know, the thing that proves he is an American citizen and will allow him to travel to different countries. Well, she says, this proves his citizenship but it doesn't prove that you are his parents. Perhaps the fact that we all have the same last name (which isn't exactly common) or the fact that we had to go through hoops to prove we were his parents in order to receive the passport??? You really should carry his adoption paperwork, she says. If he was older I could ask him questions, but he is too young for that. (Funny, the boy can recite his adoption story pretty well.)
Eventually she decided to let us into the country with a warning to carry his paperwork in the future. CJ & I were pretty ticked about the whole experience. We were discriminated against and antagonized because we are a multiracial family. If our son was white, his legality in our family would not have been questioned. Usually it is just me who gets my feathers ruffled about these type of things, but my darling husband had to agree this time. Needless to say, we had no trouble at all getting back into the United States. The customs agent was very sweet and friendly to Paul (who was a bit grouchy by then and needing a nap) and didn't seem to have any problem with our non-traditional family unit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't pop the bubble

Ok, I've already posted these pics on FB, but they are just too funny and truly show the irony that is my boy. Paul is a wild child. He has constant energy and enjoys receiving attention for being a goofball. When out in public, we often have to redirect him from various lust-for-life behaviors such as running full force down the length of Sears while screaming the words to some Wiggles song. Recently, his daycare teachers have discovered something that immediately quiets him down by appealing to his competitive side: who has the best "bubble". For those readers who are not familiar with preschool behavior modification, a "bubble" refers to sticking out your cheeks in an effort to remain quiet. Paul's daycare teachers use it when the children are lined up to go outside or use the bathroom. Lately they have been praising Paul for having the best bubble, and he is incredibly proud of his title. Trouble is, it only works when there are other children around. During the above mentioned episode at Sears, no amount of bubble request was going to work. BUT, when asked to sit nicely for a recent photo op at his cousin's birthday party, he immediately went into bubble mode and remained perfectly still despite the surrounding drama. Trying to get a somewhat large group of unruly children hungry for cake to sit and wait for people to take pictures seemed a bit unrealistic, but we gave it a try. Unfortunately the children spread themselves out and I was not able to capture all of them in my frame. Instead I chose to focus on Paul and his two second cousins. Everyone sat quietly at first, but as soon as mom backed away from the birthday boy (on the right), he started to cry. She tried to console him with a balloon, but that simply created an opportunity for conflict. As the battle raged on, Paul sat perfectly still, hands in his lap, bubble on his lips. I couldn't help but wonder what was going on in his head. In the end, the birthday boy could not be consoled, and the attempt to capture a happy group of smiling children was abandoned. I praised Paul for his ability to keep cool among the chaos. He shrugged me off and headed for the pinata. The next day in a nice restaurant, he shrieked loudly while attempting to jump out of his high chair. Sigh.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Battle against bureaucracy, part 378

Just when you thought the battle was over... we have been trying to get Paul a passport so that we can safely travel to Canada this summer. After collecting every piece of evidence that we had to prove Paul's existence, US citizenship and family legality, we trucked ourselves down to the airport post office (the only one with reasonable passport hours) and waited behind all the other fools who put their passport applications off to the last minute (new border rules went into effect June 1). The helpful man behind the counter took what he needed, leaving us with Paul's green card and Korean passport. Both had expired and he assured us they were not required. 5 weeks later we received a letter in the mail stating that further proof of citizenship was required. I called the passport office in Charleston and waited for a ridiculous amount of time before actually reaching a human. I explained our situation and she said she thought all they needed was his green card. She wasn't 100% sure and said someone from the department would call us directly with the answer within three business days. That was Friday. On Thursday the next week I sent in the green card, figuring no one was ever going to actually call me. The following Monday I received a message from the passport office. Hmm... guess "three days" really meant six. She said we also needed to send his passport and the original adoption decree from the court. I told her we sent in the only thing the court gave us and that we were told the passport was expired. Send it anyway she said and sent me a Fed Ex airmail envelope. Two days later I dropped off the passport at Fed Ex and the following day received another phone call requesting the final adoption decree. When I couldn't be reached, they called CJ who also told them that the only paperwork we received on our court day was already in their hands. Not enough he was told. So he called the courthouse and requested that they send us any and all paperwork associated to our case. They required a notarized request accompanied by a photo copy of his driver's license and told him that they may not be able to release it through the mail. Keep in mind that we lived in a different county at the time and picking up the paperwork would require a 4+ hour round trip drive. That is a lot of gas for one piece of paper. And I can only imagine that they will probably just give us another copy of what we already have and have already sent in to the passport office. Sigh. Meanwhile, every time he sees a commercial for Marineland he asks, "Can we go to that zoo?" Someday, buddy. Someday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Party at the van's!

Pardon the clutter, but I wanted to put a picture of our new deck here for anyone too far away to visit. My darling hubby worked his butt off over Memorial Day weekend - he is apparently making a habit of celebrating the fallen by taking on massive home improvement projects. Last year he installed the kitchen floor, this year the deck. I digress. The deck is HUGE and very awesome. It still needs a railing, so we are careful to keep Paul and any small visitors away from the edge. Paul thinks it's great. He loves helping daddy build it and has only lost a small handful of nails down the cracks.