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June 24, 2004


Doctor Memory

Er, oops?

Oh well, on the scale of stupid things that the US State and Immigration departments have done recently in regards to visas and passports, it could have been a lot worse: for instance...

Doctor Memory

(But it's still pretty stupid. A seperate passport for a 2-month-old? Huh?)

Matt Brown

That sucks, Belle. Easy enough mistake to make, though; who would think that a 2-month-old would need a passport? Stupid, as the good Doctor points out. No use beating yourself up over it now.

I suggest treating yourself to an indulgent dessert and then posting the recipe. ;)

Kip Manley

Belle, trust us distant, tinny voices out here in the chilly Islets of Bloggerhans: you ain't the one what's dumb like Homer.


Thanks guys. I wish I were at the beach, though. Sigh. I'm going to console myself with chocolate peanut butter chip cookies. And Madeira.


Jesus. Taking care of a 2 month-old is a task in itself, even without bureaucratic clerical hassles. Calling yourself dumb? Just pass that honor on to our lovely public administration.

Plus, you haven't had a full night's sleep in two months. No drinking & breast-feeding, though - those cookies should be washed down with *milk*.


Aoife got her U.S. passport when she was six weeks old, and we had to go through all kinds of rigmarole with the State Department. And then we only barely remembered that she'd need a visa to get back into Australia as well.

It's ridiculous -- now she has a lovely passport photo of herself at 6 weeks that's good for 5 years. But we were paranoid about it because (a) I'm Irish and am always paranoid about INS/visa related stuff; and (b) There was an infamous conversation in Detroit airport a few years ago, on the way to my brother's wedding, that began with Laurie asking me "So, do I need a passport to get into Canada?"


I am willing to accept that you are stupid, given that stupidity is the common lot of humanity.
We are all stupid. Man, and Woman, is not the intelligent animal, it is the stupid animal, because to be truly stupid the possibility of intelligence must exist. I am undoubtedly much stupider than you lady. I could tell you stories but the coke coming through your nose would hurt wayyyyy tooo much.

So yes, you are stupid, as far as any individual incident of stupidity goes this is the lowest sort, it is the base coin of stupidity, the stupidity that comes with being wrong about some simple matter, it is stupid in the same way as slamming a door on a cat's tail is stupid. We are probably all stupid like this at least ten times a day.

It is not the level of stupidity of deciding that toddlers must have passports, which is the stupidity of addressing a problem not with the goal of competently solving the problem but with the goal of protecting one's ass from accusations that the problem has not been solved.

It is so far removed from the stupidity of racism for example, that it is not worthwhile discussing the two things as examples of the same thing, that is to say stupidity.

I am however, not sure how smart it was to post on this subject, as your google rank on searches involving stupidity will now increase - which is why I didn't put a url to my home page in the url field.


this lesson cost you and baby a trip to the beach, and gained you a story to tell as baby gets older, about the importance of having paperwork in order, at least one set.
many people don't learn this until their assets or lives are at stake.
i misplaced my driver's license again. without a driver's license, i can't get my birth certificate. without my birth certificate, i can't get my driver's license. without a driver's license, i can't get a job, which is ok, or get into a bar to see the suicide girls tour, which is less ok.
if i had had the sense to put my properties in the name of an out-of-state holding company, i wouldn't have been dragged into court so many times, for other people's littering.
one time i had to smuggle myself into canada in a taxi before getting back on the bus, because my papers were not in order. another time i didn't get to go to costa rica. an american passport could someday save your daughter's life, or place it in danger.


I do sympathize with your plight. I'd like you to realize, though, that the requirement that every individual have a passport, even if an infant, does have a purpose.

Not only is the bureaucratic record-keping made easier, but the primary function is to prevent children from being kidnapped from their parents and brought overseas.

At the time when minor children could be included on a parent's passport--more than 20 years ago--it was too easy for any child to be thrown into the group waiting to leave the country.

One 6-week-old baby's picture looks pretty much like another's. But the process of applying for a passport requires more than simple appearance. Birth certificates and the rest of the documentary requirements prevent would-be kidnappers from simply bolting with kids.

Additionally, when travelers register with embassy's abroad--you do do that, don't you?--then the embassy knows exactly how many Americans are in the country. So when something happens, be it a terrorist attack or a bus accident, they have some clue about who needs to be accounted for. Individual passports indicate individuals, not some possible combination of individuals.

Finally, recent regulations now require that when an infant applies for a passport, BOTH parents must present themselves to the passport issuing agency. This prevents one parent from saying "Oh, yeah, Mom says it's fine" and then taking the child out of the country. Signed affidavits, even notarized, won't do: both parents, in person, with the baby.

Is this overkill? Maybe, unless it's your kid who got snatched.

BTW, this isn't just a problem with third-world countries. At present, the country with the most cases of child abduction of American kids is Germany. Mexico comes second.


That a 2-month-old has to have a passport makes me embarrassed to be a bureaucrat...

Thanks for blogging when yer supposed to be on vacation! I was already starting to miss my daily hit of J&BHAB after 2 days. I hope the cookies and booze are muting the aggravation, and that Mai gets well soon.

Larry B

About two weeks ago, my best freinds' new son (approx 8 months old) arrived at SFO on his journey from Korea to his new home in New Jersey. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the airport as a volunteer with the adoption service to care for him during his 5 hour layover.

I held him as he went through immigration. He had a Korean passport and a sheaf of documentation including an elaborate certificate from the INS and many papers in Korean with official translations. The immigration officer spent about 10 minutes confirming all of the paperwork before stamping and returning his passport and retaining the pile of paperwork. Most of the volunteers have no real emotional attachment to the babies they watch on their layovers. I felt a sense of relief and joy when that stamp hit the little guy's book.

Given that there have been so many problems with fradulent adoptions, I suppose that it makes sense to require the little ones to have their own passports. Hatcher is right on this one.

It's a bummmer that you and the baby missed out on a fun trip, and yes regulations can be arbitrary and capricious. Maybe you can try to make a "mommy-and-baby only" holiday on your own at home!


Really, it was my fault not to have checked more carefully on the requirements. And I don't think it's per se ridiculous to have such a requirement. It does seem a bit ridiculous to say to two parents present with passports, the child's birth certificate, a marriage liscence, and airline tickets: there is no way to help you.



My wife and a friend of ours were heading to Prague. Our frined is a Canadian citizen, though she's lived in the US for the last twenty years. We did the research about passports and found out we didn't need visas, got everything in order, boarded the plane and arrived in Prague only to discover that a week before we left, the Czech republic changed the rules about visas. American citizens didn't need them but Canadian citizens did. Our friend was shuffled back onto a plane to Amsterdam within ten minutes. We barely were able to get her suitcase to her before they dragged her away.

From our taxi driver, we found out the reason for the change in laws: Gypsies. It seems the Rom go to Canada when they get thrown out of the Czech Republic, get Canadian passpaorts and come back. To stem the flow of Gypsies across their boarders, the Czech beurocrats simply added another layer of red tape.

That this is the answer to every ill in the world is stupid. That common sense rationalizations fall to shreds in the face of such blinding stupidity is not stupid, it's tragic. In short: even doing the reasearch doesn't mean they won't change the rules five minutes before you arrive at the gate.

The Czech Republic's dispicable attitude towards Gypsies is another matter...

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Matt Weiner

I thank the spammers for reminding me to double check that, yes, I do need a visa to go to Australia.

Matt Weiner

Though I'm kind of ticked that a faithful reader like me got Turing tested when the above went through.


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