Monday, August 15, 2011

Passports are required to leave the country

Mafan. It's the Chinese word for situations that are troublesome, inconvenient, and just frustrating. Part of the cultural transition from the West to the East is the experiencing the mafan that generally transpires. From little instances, to big scenarios, mafan can take you off your feet and leave you with a bad attitude, or it can strengthen your resolve and force you to find contentment.

I don't know why I thought that the cultural mafan wouldn't follow me to the United States. I applied for Willow's passport with each piece of documentation and paperwork in hand. There were no problems at the check-in counter, and I marveled that are situation was so "easy". Everyone else there seemed to have some sob story or crazy crisis that forced them to appear in-person at the passport agency...because, people don't apply for expedited passports just for the heck of it. Usually, people just send their applications through the post office.

I left the passport agency last Wednesday feeling relieved. It seemed that everything had gone well and we would be able to pick up Willow's passport as soon as Friday. While waiting to apply, we witnessed an eye-full of tragic cases and bizarre scenes. One family had been there every day that week trying to get a new passport for their 5 year old son. They had finally been asked to bring the boy's birth certificate from Spain, even though he was a US citizen. When they paid $500 to have it over-nighted to Chicago, the agency said, "this won't due at all--it's in Spanish.". I felt especially bad for this family because they had to produce a death certificate for the mom to prove that this boy had consent from both parents to apply for a passport. Which brings me to my situation.

Adam is already in China. But before he left, he signed and had notarized a document that stated Willow had permission to have a passport. The only problem was that the date Adam put after his name did not match the date that the notary signed. I noticed this as I was putting all the various papers together to bring to the passport agency--but I didn't think anything of it.

On Thursday, we had just started the road trip to visit my grandparents in Wisconsin when we received what the man called a "Courtesy Call". The passport agency rep. was going through Willow's application and noticed this date discrepancy. He said it would be impossible to approve her application and denied Adam's consent form. He said a new one would have to be submitted. This meant that Adam had to get a new form notarized in China--which is just a little difficult when he has to work and when appointments with the consulate have to be made in advance...and especially when we have such limited time remaining. Because we were going to Wisconsin, the soonest I would be able to submit this new form would be Monday--the day I had been planning on picking up Willow's passport and applying for her visa.

Because technology is amazing, I was able to get on skype using Brad's ipad and Tommy's smart phone--while we were driving down the interstate. Adam was just about to leave for school when I told him the news--"You have to fax me a new consent form as soon as possible".

I'm not sure about everything that went down on Adam's side of the world--but he quickly made an appointment and even learned a place with Chinese notaries that would sign the form...but the next bummer was....

They need Willow's birth certificate.

Her birth certificate is at the passport agency in Chicago.

Dum, dum, dum....

Fortunately, I have another official copy. I'm praising him for this provision--because it would have been a whole other hassle if we hadn't paid for two copies a month ago.

Now I'm scanning and emailing Willow's birth certificate to Adam--it's Sunday afternoon. Adam is getting ready to start his first full week of the school year--he's heading out our apartment door on Monday morning, and will print Willow's birth certificate at school so that he can prove that he is her father to the Chinese notary. He'll then fax me the consent form and I'll hopefully be able to bring it to the passport agency on Monday or Tuesday. And what I'm really hoping for is that once they see the consent form--they'll accept it and grant Willow's passport immediately. The rep who called me said that a faxed copy should be sufficient. I hope they hold to that statement.

If not, I'll have to go about applying for Willow's passport a whole new route.

With a new born nursing baby, it's a real hassle going into the city. What should have been two trips to Chicago has turned into 3 or 4 trips. It's hard when Willow has to eat every 2-3 hours. It takes 2 hours just to get down town with all the traffic. Trying to keep a hungry baby from screaming is stressful when you're waiting in a federal office where gypsies scream at the workers that they, "don't have a birth certificate because 99% of gypsies are born at home--do you want proof that I was born? I'll bring my father in and he'll tell ya! I'm gonna punch you in the face!"

Just to get out the door is stressful and a lot of work. I dread these trips down town---so I'm hoping that I don't have to go more than once this week. Maybe I can get her passport, apply/receive her visa and get her birth certificate authenticated all in the same day. That would be the best.

We have five business days left in the US--I hope that everything can be solved by then so that I don't have to reschedule our flight plans. My dad is flying up from Texas to say goodbye to us and to drive my mom, Emma and myself to the airport--if we have to change our flight, it could make getting a ride to O'Hare a little mafan. But more than that, I miss Adam and I want to be together again. Even though traveling sucks and it's great to be in America--I would like to be in Shenyang again.

That's my pity-party for today. I'm hoping that everything works out this week; I would really appreciate it if you would join me in lifting it up to the Father.

Trusting in the Maker of all things through this passport mafan,



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