Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our Big Break

Three cheers for Shannon's kidney stones and the pain she's been in for about two months! Thanks to a note faxed by Shannon's physician to the US Consulate about this chronic kidney condition, our appointment was moved up. First it was moved from the 15th to the 11th, a Friday. Nice - better than nothing - but still keeping us here an extra weekend as the passport takes one business day for delivery. Then, magically, a phone call Wednesday asked if we could come in Thursday. Um, yes! The beauty of this last shift is it means we can fly home Friday instead of Monday. Shannon's already put in a cheeseburger order to Five Guys.

Shannon's kidney stones make infrequent but always memorable visits, particularly when she's under a lot of stress. In fact, the last serious bout before this trip to India occurred during the weeks leading up to our wedding. Shannon was literally on bed rest and Vicodin for the week following our I do's. It's a good thing we'd put off a serious honeymoon until later in life because we would have had to cancel it. Anyway, as our return to Mumbai loomed, coupled with the threats of an early delivery due to R's placenta previa, the stones decided to reappear. We typically don't even think to mention the pain because, sadly, it's just something Shannon periodically needs to tolerate until either natural elimination or surgery. But once we heard a medical emergency could expedite our appointment, silence went out the window.

Having just come back from the US Consulate we remain a little dumbfounded about why they limit each day to two Birth Abroad visits. Getting through security took longer than the actual governmental red tape - maybe ninety minutes all told. Certainly, it helped that we had our act together. Here's what was required:

  • Completed passport and social security applications, no different from applications one would complete in the US
  • Completed Consulate Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) form
  • Copy of the surrogacy agreement we'd signed with R during our first trip to India back in February of last year
  • Copy of letters from our clinic, Hiranandani Hospital and Babies R Us IVF, all of which attest to our pursuit of surrogacy and the birth of Archer
  • Two 2" x 2" photos of Archer (we had a photographer come to our hotel room last week to take these photos)
  • Copy of our passports and marriage certificate
  • $205
That's it. We handed over the above, waited about 25 minutes, and then - with right hands raised - attested to the fact that Archer was indeed our son and that all the information we'd provided was accurate. Boom! Archer became a US citizen.

The Consulate was, as expected, a bit of a compound, populated with armed, Indian guards inside and out. We had to check in at a non-descript kiosk behind bullet-proof glass and then put up with a fairly extensive bag search that included my tasting of Archer's baby food. Limited to one bag and not allowed to bring in our bottles of hand sanitizer and hand cream (the Consulate's tougher than an airport), we put excess items in a locker and then walked through a metal detector and metal turnstile onto the grounds. It was a short outdoor walk to what appeared to be the main Consulate building, climbing marble stairs into a sterile lobby with doors off in all directions. On the wall was a picture of President Obama - and yes, I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride and place. Shannon and I were buzzed through to a small, heavily air conditioned room filled with straight-backed chairs facing another bullet-proof window. It was with the folks behind this window that we exchanged all of the above paperwork. Throughout the entire experience, all interaction was with locals except for the very end when we were sworn by a young American woman, Christy.

The passport will be available for pickup at 9:30 in the morning tomorrow. The three of us will grab it and then immediately head on over to the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) - an Indian agency tasked with doling out, among other things, exit visas. Shannon and I will be enlisting the help of a partner to our surrogacy clinic who specializes in work with the FRRO. We want smooth sailing, no surprises and an exit visa for Archer on the same day. (Technically, exit visas can take anywhere from 1 to 15 days for delivery.) If all goes to plan, we'll be done sometime around lunch with perhaps a little time to spare for a visit to the Colaba markets before our 2pm late check out. We'll be begging for an even later check out as our flight doesn't leave 'til 11:40pm. That's a lot of time to kill.

Cross your fingers. We were able to purchase two aisle seats in an empty three seat middle row. (No bassinet seats were available.) If that middle seat remains empty we'll have a place to put Archer during the 16 hour flight back to the States. Otherwise, we'll be holding him all the way back - a nice capper to a long stay away.

We're ready. You can tell just by watching Shannon. She's skipping right now and will do so right until we're seated, buckled in and on our way home.


  1. thanks for the post. don't worry if you don't get the middle seat. i doubt you will want to put the baby down anyway and just want to hold him in your arms forever - he's so adorable.

  2. Glad to hear your coming home. Wish we could be there to welcome you & give Archer big hugs and kisses. But I'm sure he will be getting alot of those. God Bless & a safe quiet trip.
    Luv Ron & Nancy

  3. yeah, have a safe flight home. What excitement!!!! And enjoy getting settled in your home with your beautiful Archer!

  4. Congrats. Now, just remember to place fake birth announcements in the Hawaii newspapers just in case he wants to become president one day ;-)

  5. Can't wait to see you this weekend!! Have a safe trip home.

  6. beautiful little boy. i hope your trip is trouble free and archer's homecoming is everything you've dreamed it would be. so glad to be able to read about your happy ending.