Thursday, January 23, 2014

The (Nearly) Impossible Task of Obtaining a Birth Certificate

Tickets are booked for our end-of-winter getaway to Cabo San Lucas in just over four week's time. As temperatures dive once again into negative digits around here, I will be the first to say I cannot wait to feel the warm sunshine on my face.

Just. Cannot. Wait.

Our trip isn't 100% a go just yet, though. We still need to secure the kids' passports and it's been quite the process in doing so. In order to get the kids' passports, we need both their social security cards and birth certificates to prove their parental guardianship and U.S. citizenship. We have those documents for Tory, but we've been waiting for what feels like forever for Aden's birth certificate to arrive by mail. A few weeks ago, I started to get nervous we were running out of time to receive it, so I called our state's department of records to verify the status of Aden's birth certificate. Of course, it's next to impossible to get a live person on the phone, so I listened to a ridiculously long message prompt and left a few phone and email messages for someone to get back to me. An employee finally responded last week and suggested I re-submit a request for Aden's birth certificate since I hadn't received it by now. They also said there's currently an eight-week turnaround on birth certificate requests. Uh, eight weeks? We leave for our trip in just over a month. If I didn't get ahold of Aden's birth certificate ASAP, then I wouldn't be able to get his passport before the trip. And obviously, if he doesn't have a passport, he can't leave the country ... which means, neither would I. BIG PROBLEM.

None of this birth certificate business even made sense to me. When Tory was born, the birth certificate arrived by mail a few weeks after she was born. I didn't have to do anything but fill out some paperwork in the hospital at the time of her birth. But, Tory was born in St. Paul and Aden in Minneapolis. Maybe the two cities (which are in different counties) had different procedures? When I contacted the department of records to ask about this for Aden, the person (via email response) asked if our personal check had cashed for the birth certificate payment. Andi and I were both confused by this because we didn't even have checks with us in the hospital, but we both remembered completing the birth certificate paperwork in the hospital. We'd never paid for a birth certificate. So, I contacted the hospital and they were of little help. They told me hospitals don't file for birth certificates because it's a legal document and that I should contact our state's department of records for next steps. Been there, done that. Now what? We were running out of time.

I looked up the department of records' local office and Andi and I finally decided to go there in person to talk to someone live. This, of course, required scheduling an appointment on Andi's very busy calendar during the work day. We bundled up the kids and braced to painfully stand in line with them at the government office to speak (reallyplead!) with someone to give us Aden's birth certificate. By some sort of sweet luck, it was all as simple as visiting the office and "picking up a copy." I'm still shocked and a little confused by this. I have a hard time believing that every single person in the entire county makes a special trip to the department of records office shortly after their baby's birth to physically obtain a copy of their child's birth certificate. I mean, for real? That's apparently the way birth certificates are distributed ... at least in this county.

Regardless, we now have a copy of Aden's birth certificate in hand and are able to apply for his passport. So, next step: to have passport photos taken. We could've done this at the post office, but that sounded like more trouble than it was worth. I hauled the kids to the nearest Wal-greens this week and had both their pictures taken there. We'd attempted this a few other times with Tory and she threw major tantrums in the store. Tory's very into playing "go to the beach" lately (because we do so much of that in January in Minnesota - ha!), so I told her we needed to take her picture so we could go to the beach. She was all for that. Aden's photo was easy to capture thanks to a tip from Erica suggesting I place a white blanket behind his head in his car seat. It worked like a charm. Aden's picture is super cute, but Tory looks a little dorky in hers. Oh, well.

Now with photos in hand, Andi and I were ready to take the whole family to the post office to file for the kids'  passports. Andi called ahead to a post office near his office to verify they processed passports because not every branch does these days. We'd heard horror stories of people waiting in line for hours to file their passport paperwork, so I came prepared with tons of activities to occupy Tory, as well as the iPad. Luckily, we only had to wait about 20 minutes. We don't have their passports just yet, but we were promised them within 1-2 weeks since we paid for expediting. I'll definitely breathe a sigh of relief when we have them in hand.

Seriously, why are these things such a process? It's 2014 and we're still required to make in person visits to pick up / file paperwork and pay for it all with personal checks. Crazy. Just glad it's all behind us now (hopefully!) and it'll all be worth it when we're digging our toes into the sand in Cabo.


  1. We didn't have to do that for either of our kids - Jake was technically born in Minneapolis, but we've always lived in St. Paul - so maybe that's different? But, for both kids, we filled out the form in the hospital (we didn't have to pay because I didn't want more than one copy of the BC) and got it in the mail a little while later, I'm thinking 1-2 weeks tops. So weird, I'm thinking you somehow fell through the cracks and everyone was just scrambling to tell you something different.

  2. That's crazy! Our hospital does file for the birth certificate (if you fill out the form while you're there). There's a fee payable to the state and the hospital just tacks it on to your bill. There's a specific line item for 'birth certificate'. When I worked for the state I was told it was their idea - a few large payments from hospitals are easier to process than a ton of individual checks (and you're paying the hospital anyway).

  3. Oh, I totally had to go pick up everyone's certificate. It's so stupid.

  4. We had one birth certificate mailed and had to go pick up the other. Different counties. Strange. Hope it all ends smoothly!

  5. We too had issues with birth certificates. Lauren's just showed up, while Reese's took more investigation and after a trip downtown we had it in a few short minutes. I had both my kids at the same hospital within two and a half years of each other.

    I hope you get the passports soon!! The beach sounds heavenly.

  6. Stuff like this is just MADDENING. Hope you get it soon!

  7. Why do these things always have to be so difficult?? Glad you have it all worked out...I never doubt you! Excited for you guys taking this are so so brave! We are trying to figure out a trip but not sure where and not sure if the little monster is coming too. We'll see!

  8. I hope this all got sorted already, but if not, I hope it's squared away very soon!

    Same hospital for both kids but I swear they set it all up for Bella and then with Oliver I was left being like "Where the heck is his birth certificate?" (needed it for something or other) and then I had to go through the whole rigamarole. Sigh.