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April 24th, 2007


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12:11 pm - One Cruise, to go, Hold the Passport (Part III)
The next day, I ran into Dad in the kitchen as I was trying to decide whether or not to brave the terrors of a cup of chicken broth for dinner. (I'd been having an epic battle with my digestive system wherein it was fighting valiantly against any invasion of food-like substances with what felt like tiny bazookas and the occasional anti-personnel mine somewhere in the region of my liver.)

"I stood in line at the post office passport department today," he said without preamble. "I finished the entire crossword puzzle, and half the sudoku."

I set thoughts of my impending gut war aside for a moment. "And?" I prompted him.

"So," he continued, "I got up there, see, after waiting forever, and I handed in the form."

I raised my eyebrows at him as an invitation to continue.

"But it turns out there was a problem."

"Oh, no," I groaned, "you didn't forget your birth certificate, did you?"

"Well, yes and no," he said. "Actually, as it turns out, I don't HAVE a birth certificate." He paused to let that sink in.

"Wait a minute, you just showed it to me yesterday!" I protested. "It had the seal and it was notarized and everything."

"That's right, it did." (Dad loves dragging things like this out for maximum effect. It's part of his charm.)



"Okay, so what do you mean you don't have a birth certificate?"

"Ah. Well, you see," he said, "I thought I had a birth certificate, but what I actually have is not actually a birth certificate."

"What do you have," asked Charlie who had just appeared on his way to the laundry room, "a 'Certificate of Birth?'"

Dad looked at him as though he'd spoiled the punchline. "Yes," he said. "I have a Certificate of Birth."

"Okay, now wait," I said, "you're kidding me, right? They wouldn't do the passport paperwork because it's a Certificate of Birth and not a Birth Certificate? What the fuck? Seriously!"

"Well, see, apparently, a Birth Certificate is something issued by the state or county government, while the Certificate of Birth is issued by the hospital," Dad explained. "So, now what I have to do is write to the Los Angeles County registrar and get my Birth Certificate."

I just blinked at him.

"It's some kind of new Homeland Security thing," he said, "although you'll be happy to know that my father was considered a citizen of the US even though he wasn't born in the United States. I did find that out."

This was just one too many things to deal with. I shut my eyes and shook my head a little as if to get rid of any dust that might be clogging my ears. "Grampa was not born in the United States?" I repeated weakly. "Where was he born?"

"Oklahoma Territory."

"Oklahoma ... Territory," I repeated.

Dad nodded.

"Okay, so now what are you supposed to do?"

"Well, I'm a little nervous," he admitted. "There's an organization that will expedite your request for your birth certificate for a cost of $185.00, but the expedite could still take two to three weeks. Then there's the expediting service for the passport, but even then I don't know if I'm going to get everything in order before the cruise."

"What about that trip insurance you mentioned?" I asked him.

"Oh. Yes. That. Well, as it turns out, they'll refund you the cost of the trip if you cancel due to one of their acceptable reasons."

"And ... not getting your passport in time isn't one of those reasons?" I guessed.

"Actually, we don't know. They don't tell you what the acceptable reasons are," he said.

"They don't ... tell you ... what ... the reasons are," I said.

"No, apparently they tell you it's in case you can't go, but they don't mention that there are reasons. You have to ask. As it turns out, certain illnesses are not appropriate reasons." He looked at me for a moment. "Your mom is pretty ticked off about that," he added.

I could imagine. This was getting crazy.

"So, in a nutshell, you just better hope that your passport comes through before the cruise or you're screwed."

"Pretty much, yeah."

"Well ... good luck. Keep me posted." He assured me that he would. My mind reeling from this bizarre turn of events, I decided to leave the chicken broth alone as a sort of a detente, and regroup again the next day.

I wondered briefly if I could take Dad's place if his passport didn't show up in time. After all, I had mine...

[to be continued here]

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:ktkatrina
Date:April 24th, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
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you know, I think I only have a 'certificate of birth.'
mines an old weak at the folds 1/3 sheet of paper with a form that was typed in on a typewriter, and was stamped with an official embosser.
my husband has a snazzy certificate looking thing from the state that makes mine look like I was born in a back-alley or something.

anyhow, I never had any issues getting a passport, unless you consider the fact that they mispelled my maiden name on the first one.
I'll go home and check, but still... you SHOULD be able to use it...
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
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Ah, yes, but did you ever try to get a passport before 9/11 and/or before all the new Homeland Security bullshit^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H protective measures?

Seriously, though, this is a true story. The Post Office passport people refused to accept it. I guess it could have been dumb post office people, but ... ~shrug~

I think blaming dumb laws is more likely to be accurate. heheh
[User Picture]
From:ktkatrina
Date:April 25th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
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I applied for my first passport in spring, 2001.
They issued it, I traveled from seattle to japan via canada, July 2001.
Sitting in the seattle airport waiting for my flight back to NY, I noticed that my passport had my last name misspelled (an "l" instead of an "i"). Somehow customs/airlines/etc had all overlooked the fact that the last name on my passport did not match the name on my ticket, even considering I'd used the passport as "ID" at airport checkin the entire trip since it was handy.

come september, I figured "yeeeah... they aren't going to let me out of the country with this now."
of course, I had no overseas travel plans until recently, and in that time I got married... you should have seen the pack of forms, certificates, and a typed/signed letter explaining why the passport doesn't match the name on my marrige cert, etc.

Either way, both times they accepted my back-alley 'certificate of birth.'[
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
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Hehe! I stand corrected.

Well, the thing that Dad got back from LA is basically his "Certificate of Birth" photocopied onto some fancy-schmancy state birth certificate paper and stamped with something or other. I wonder if maybe your certificate was stamped by some state/county agency while his was just stamped by the hospital? There's probably something different -- after all, his was made up over 70 years ago.

I need to talk him into getting a few copies to hold onto. Or at least, to register his at the local county registrar.
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and sure, they'll let you OUT of the country with it -- they just won't let you back in. :-)
[User Picture]
From:xviragox
Date:April 24th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
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My grandmother's boyfriend told us how, as an adult, he found out that he hadn't been born in the US. Turns out he was born in Mexico and his mother brought him across as an infant. Somehow he managed to serve in the US Army without ever knowing!

I don't remember exactly what happened when he did find out, but I think they made it pretty easy on him since he'd served and all.
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Was that when California was still part of Mexico? :-)

Actually, I was just thinking about what the US looked like when my grandfather was born. I need to check a map. Oklahoma Territory. That's just a trip.
[User Picture]
From:plklives
Date:April 24th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
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Heh, you'd think the certificate of birth would be sufficiently official, since I assume the state had to find out from the hospital that your dad was born. I'd consider a primary source more reliable than a secondary source, but hey, that's just me. I'm totally sure the gvt knows better.
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
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The gubmint works in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform!
[User Picture]
From:wind_4
Date:April 24th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
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Been there, done that. It sounds like this story has already happened, but my recommendation to anyone who needs to get an official birth certificate for passport or other purposes: get multiples. It only costs about $15 a pop (if you were born in Cali, at least) and I've been in situations a couple of times when I needed to send an official copy of my B.C., and I was worried I'd be without a copy while another one was on order. I have two now, and I got a third to leave at my folks' house in case the ones I have get lost/destroyed for some reason.

And that's the tip of the day! The more you know....
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
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Oh yeah, believe me, one thing I learned in the Army is always have a few copies of things like birth certificate, marriage certificate, DD-214 (Army certificate of discharge), and so forth at hand. Never know when you're going to need them.

Luckily, you can (or used to be able to!) take your birth, marriage, etc certificate from another state and register it with your local county recorder in your new state, and from then on, you can get official copies from there. That's what we did with our marriage certificate since we got married in South Carolina and don't intend to ever go back there. Hee!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
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No shit. Does that mean Grampa was an illegal immigrant when they moved to California?

*boggles*
[User Picture]
From:blackbirdshaq
Date:April 25th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
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Ha! Try being adopted and explaining why you don't have an original Birth Certificate to some places. Now, the certificate issued by the state of PA after the adoption is all legal and stuff, but one place I was trying to get into or get hired on at required your actual birth certificate. I figured they weren't worth it.

I've accidentally thrown away 3 official Birth Certificates, btw. Every 5 years or so I have to call the state of PA and get another 3 so I can lose them again. *sighs*

Man, I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Did you find that map yet? When was your grandpa born? I'm home and bored today.
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
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Looks like most of the states were states except Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and, of course, Alaska and Hawaii. Grampa was born in 1800-something, but it would have been between 1890 and 1907 because that's when the Oklahoma Territory was opened up.

Here's a map of the layout in 1900: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MAP/TERRITORY/1900map.html
[User Picture]
From:lirilith05
Date:April 25th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
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*blinks, reads, and blinks again*

I didn't know "birth certificate" and "certificate of birth" are 2 different things. I know I have a birth certificate, not sure about the other one. However, I was born in another country, so I guess there are also different security protocols for me.

Going on vacation shouldn't be this difficult. =?
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 25th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha! Seriously.

Oh my God, I totally forgot to mention the "short form" versus the "long form."

Of the birth certificate.

Because, apparently, the "short form" is not acceptable.

You need the "long form."

Whatever the hell that is.

I could NOT make this up if I tried.
[User Picture]
From:lirilith05
Date:April 25th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
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0.0 This is madness! What could possibly be in the long form? Your family tree? Verification of blood type and fingerprints? Jeez.
[User Picture]
From:mrsveteran
Date:April 26th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
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Soil samples from where you were born? The testimony of six expert witnesses?
[User Picture]
From:lirilith05
Date:April 27th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
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I think what they really want to know is who's related to Thomas Jefferson. 0.o

Please excuse me. I had 30 Rock on the brain, and on little sleep. =P
[User Picture]
From:plklives
Date:April 25th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh also, I think this really illustrates the need for helicopters at home. With a personal Home Helicopter (tm!), your dad could bypass Canada entirely and just land right on the ship. And then when it's time to disembark, no waiting in that eternal check-out line -- just go up to the helicopter pad and take off. Voilla!

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