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PLEASE Help w/ Passport for toddler


MrMike45
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We're in a tough situation here and needing some help and guidance, preferably from someone who has first hand knowledge.  Let me explain...

 

We (me, my wife, our adopted 22 month old son at time of departure) have an MSC cruise booked for 10/18/19 leaving from NY.  My wife and I are seasoned cruisers, and this will be our son's third cruise.  

 

The adoption of our son is not finalized yet (mainly due to the backlog of cases in both NY and Louisiana (where he was born) in family court).  The final court date is scheduled for 9/12/19, however we have been advised that even after the final ruling it will be 6-8 weeks before we receive any paperwork, including his amended birth certificate listing us as his parents.  

 

For his first 2 cruises, we were able to obtain a certified/notarized letter from LA Family court listing us as his guardians and prospective adopted parents, as well as granting us permission to obtain a temporary passport on his behalf, which we did.  However, the US Dept of State put an expiration date on that passport of 12 months, as I assume that is what they deemed the appropriate time for the adoption to be finalized.  It expired in June 2019, and we submitted all the necessary (and same as the first time) paperwork to renew his passport for this cruise we have upcoming in October.

 

On Friday, we received a letter stating that the submitted documents no longer are accepted under the United States travel policy, and that we need to submit an original birth certificate listing us as the minor's parents in order to obtain a passport.  I immediately called the number on the letter and explained everything to the woman I spoke with.  While polite and cordial, in short she told me "tough" and that there was nothing she could do as this was the regulations of the law.  I asked if there was a supervisor I could explain the situation to, and offered to send the most recent letter we received from LA family court listing the adoption finalization date, prior to the cruise, but that we would not receive the birth certificate until after the cruise due to the backlog of cases.  She put in a request to speak to a supervisor, and indicated one should call me back in 10-14 business days!!!  (what?!?!)

 

As the cruise is in less than 2 months, as you can imagine, we are past final payment.  We are going to Canada and New England (if that helps).  But we're unsure what to do here.  Is a passport required for a child under 2?  Can we get away without one, although he have no other ID for him as his legal name is still his birth name, which is different as mine/wife's last name.  Are we basically screwed here and can't go on this cruise?  

 

Any help would be appreciated, and sorry for the long post.  

Edited by MrMike45
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When we adopted our son, we faced the same delay in getting our son’s amended BC.  We were not cruising there, but for some reason we needed to have the docs, and our adoption attorney told us to bring the original BC and the court order finalizing the adoption as proof that we were parents.  Not sure if this is option or not, but is best you can do on short notice.  

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13 hours ago, kitkat343 said:

Is this a closed loop cruise?

 

Yes, Meraviglia, NYC-Canada-New England-NYC

 

We were thinking maybe not getting off the ship at the Canada ports, since wouldn't be an issue in the US ones.  But then when we get back to NY and go thru customs, what do we show the custom agent? 

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I'm sorry - I can't find anything that directly addresses your situation.  It's clear that without the adoption, a minor child is able to go on a closed loop cruise to Canada.  

 

 

 

An U.S. citizen under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original, notarized or certified copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issues by Department of State, (DOS) and/or Certificate of Naturalizationissued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Note: Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth are not acceptable. Voter registration cards or Social Security are not considered proof of citizenship.

If the child is a newborn and the actual birth certificate has not arrived from the Vital Records Department, we will accept a Hospital issued birth certificate. The United States does not require you to have a passport. (A Consular report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State or a Certificate of Naturalization is also acceptable.)

HOWEVER, it is possible that one or more of the Caribbean Islands on your itinerary, does require you to have a passport to enter their country. In that case, it is very possible that the cruise line will require you to have a passport to board, even if it is not a U.S. requirement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity's blog indicates they would let a minor child sail to Canada without a passport:

 

https://www.celebritycruises.com/blog/cruise-tips-and-advice/find-out-if-you-need-a-passport-to-go-on-a-cruise

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@kitkat343 Thanks for looking KitKat, much appreciated, and yes the adoption is what throws everything for a loop because...

 

2 hours ago, Tapi said:

Do you currently have his original birth certificate or did you have to surrender that to the courts? 

 

We did have his original birth certificate (although we are not listed as the parents, his birth parents are), and we have the original certified court document from Louisiana indicated that we are his legal guardians and perspective adoptive parents.  BUT....

 

The originals are now all with the US Dept of State, as for passport applications, you must send in the originals.  

 

So when (if) the supervisor ever does call me back, one option we have if they reject the application is request the original forms be sent back ASAP so we can take them on the cruise.  But I'm not sure if they will even suffice, since we're not technically listed on the birth certificate.  And I don't want an international Amber Alert thing.  

Edited by MrMike45
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23 minutes ago, Essiesmom said:

Can you not request another copy of the BC?  And another copy of the court document?  EM

I was thinking the same thing.  I feel quite certain the Court would certify another copy of the Order, which would be an official document that government should accept.  Perhaps someone else has a copy of the birth certificate as well, or you could order an expedited copy be sent to you. I know it will be changing soon and you will be listed as the parents, but maybe for this situation you need to get another official copy.  Might the Court have another copy you could have, or maybe a doctor's office or pre-school, day care, et cetera.

 

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35 minutes ago, legaljen1969 said:

I was thinking the same thing.  I feel quite certain the Court would certify another copy of the Order, which would be an official document that government should accept.  Perhaps someone else has a copy of the birth certificate as well, or you could order an expedited copy be sent to you. I know it will be changing soon and you will be listed as the parents, but maybe for this situation you need to get another official copy.  Might the Court have another copy you could have, or maybe a doctor's office or pre-school, day care, et cetera.

 

 

1 hour ago, Essiesmom said:

Can you not request another copy of the BC?  And another copy of the court document?  EM

 

Not a bad idea and worth a shot if I can get someone on the phone.  Will try now 

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16 minutes ago, MrMike45 said:

 

 

Not a bad idea and worth a shot if I can get someone on the phone.  Will try now 

I don't know if it would work, but perhaps if the birth certificate has been filed with the Court as a part of the pleadings for your adoption case, there may be some sort of exemplified documents the Court can give you stating that an official copy of the birth certificate was filed as a part of the action with the Court. 

I wish you the best of luck.  Happy adoption.

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13 minutes ago, legaljen1969 said:

I don't know if it would work, but perhaps if the birth certificate has been filed with the Court as a part of the pleadings for your adoption case, there may be some sort of exemplified documents the Court can give you stating that an official copy of the birth certificate was filed as a part of the action with the Court. 

I wish you the best of luck.  Happy adoption.

 

Thank you very much for the advice and help Jen.  Will post any update 

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Quick update (for those of you following along), spent about 3 hours today calling/emailing with various parishes in Louisiana.  The parish I thought the case was in was actually incorrect, and it was in another much smaller court/parish.  

 

Let me say, dealing with court clerks and officers in a state like Louisiana is such a better experience than those here in NY.  The people I spoke to genuinely seemed to care and be sympathetic to the situation as opposed to the "whatever" attitude I was expecting.  

 

Bottom line though, everyone I spoke with seemed to agree, if a certified/signed letter by a judge stating that we were our son's legal guardians and perspective adoptive parents scheduled for 9/12/19, along with the approval to apply and obtain a passport for him under his birth name until his name is legally changed, is not sufficient, then nothing would be.

 

On the positive side of things though, the clerk on our specific docket/case, promised me that she would personally FedEx the finalization decree to me on 9/12/19, right after the case is settled and finalized.  While it is not a birth certificate (that comes from official records and will take weeks), it will indeed decree we are legally his parents as of that date.  If I get that on 9/13/19, I am hopeful I can submit to the US Dept of State and request the passport then be expedited (for a fee of course).  Right now, that seems like our best hope to be able to go on the cruise.  

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33 minutes ago, MrMike45 said:

Quick update (for those of you following along), spent about 3 hours today calling/emailing with various parishes in Louisiana.  The parish I thought the case was in was actually incorrect, and it was in another much smaller court/parish.  

 

Let me say, dealing with court clerks and officers in a state like Louisiana is such a better experience than those here in NY.  The people I spoke to genuinely seemed to care and be sympathetic to the situation as opposed to the "whatever" attitude I was expecting.  

 

Bottom line though, everyone I spoke with seemed to agree, if a certified/signed letter by a judge stating that we were our son's legal guardians and perspective adoptive parents scheduled for 9/12/19, along with the approval to apply and obtain a passport for him under his birth name until his name is legally changed, is not sufficient, then nothing would be.

 

On the positive side of things though, the clerk on our specific docket/case, promised me that she would personally FedEx the finalization decree to me on 9/12/19, right after the case is settled and finalized.  While it is not a birth certificate (that comes from official records and will take weeks), it will indeed decree we are legally his parents as of that date.  If I get that on 9/13/19, I am hopeful I can submit to the US Dept of State and request the passport then be expedited (for a fee of course).  Right now, that seems like our best hope to be able to go on the cruise.  

Great news. I think you will probably make it just fine.  I hope you get everything you need in a timely fashion.   Are you close to a passport agency. You say you are in New York, so I didn't know if you were close to NYC and might be able to manage to get it there.  It does say the passport centers/agencies help people who will be traveling in the next 14 days from the date of their appointment, but considering your circumstance- it might be wise to see if you could get an appointment.  Given your circumstance is a bit out of the norm, perhaps this is an avenue you could try.   It appears there is also a passport agency in Stamford, CT.   Just thinking maybe walking it up to a passport agency rather than doing everything by  mail might be an option. 

You will be pretty close by the time the case is finalized. It looks like unless you are traveling with 14 days you can't get an expedited appointment, but you may want to call and see what they say.  They may be able to advise you on how to get this accomplished close to your date of travel.

Keep us posted.

Best wishes and congratulations on the adoption.

Edited by legaljen1969
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16 hours ago, legaljen1969 said:

Great news. I think you will probably make it just fine.  I hope you get everything you need in a timely fashion.   Are you close to a passport agency. You say you are in New York, so I didn't know if you were close to NYC and might be able to manage to get it there.  It does say the passport centers/agencies help people who will be traveling in the next 14 days from the date of their appointment, but considering your circumstance- it might be wise to see if you could get an appointment.  Given your circumstance is a bit out of the norm, perhaps this is an avenue you could try.   It appears there is also a passport agency in Stamford, CT.   Just thinking maybe walking it up to a passport agency rather than doing everything by  mail might be an option. 

You will be pretty close by the time the case is finalized. It looks like unless you are traveling with 14 days you can't get an expedited appointment, but you may want to call and see what they say.  They may be able to advise you on how to get this accomplished close to your date of travel.

Keep us posted.

Best wishes and congratulations on the adoption.

 

Yes I work in Midtown (right in the heart of Times Square) so definitely will be able to go into a passport agency in person once we receive the documents.  IF everything goes smoothly, should give us over a month by time we go in to the date of the cruise, which I believe is enough time.  Big IF there of course.  

 

Will definitely post any updates.  Thank you for your advice and help, and also thank you very much for the congratulations.  Even if we can't go on the cruise, the fact that everything will finally be finalized and complete is what's important.  Just money if we have to cancel.  

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My first thought was that they are always worried about child abduction and thus there is a pile of paper required to bring a grandchild, a child without both parents and a raft of other conditions.  I know you said one paper wasn’t available, but if Social Services is in fact the “custodial parents” is that avenue feasible?  Part of me is the pessimist that believes if you got the paperwork the other paperwork will show up!  

 

For adults, a new bride often doesn’t have her passport changed for her honeymoon and still can travel under old paperwork. That got me to thinking about how to solve the problem of how to get a minor permission to travel.

 

keep us posted. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/21/2019 at 3:50 PM, MrMike45 said:

If I get that on 9/13/19, I am hopeful I can submit to the US Dept of State and request the passport then be expedited (for a fee of course).  Right now, that seems like our best hope to be able to go on the cruise.  

Be sure to both go to the Department of State, since you need both parents. Your best bet will be to go to a passport agency, by making an appointment, which according to the DOS website can be made 4 weeks in advance for 2 weeks before you travel. 

 

Https://passportappointment.travel.state.gov/

 

or try calling 877-487-2778 

 

good luck! And congratulations on your upcoming adoption. 

 

(As a last resort you can see if your cruise company will allow you to push the cruise back for a month or so ... celebrity once let us do that even though we were within final payment ... they just made us switch to something that was also in final payment so we couldn’t switch and cancel and get our money back - if you explain the rules change at DoS and the legal delay they may be more sympathetic than the DoS employees who are stuck following regulations they may not agree with.)

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  • 2 months later...
On 8/19/2019 at 2:27 PM, MrMike45 said:

We're in a tough situation here and needing some help and guidance, preferably from someone who has first hand knowledge.  Let me explain...

 

We (me, my wife, our adopted 22 month old son at time of departure) have an MSC cruise booked for 10/18/19 leaving from NY.  My wife and I are seasoned cruisers, and this will be our son's third cruise.  

 

The adoption of our son is not finalized yet (mainly due to the backlog of cases in both NY and Louisiana (where he was born) in family court).  The final court date is scheduled for 9/12/19, however we have been advised that even after the final ruling it will be 6-8 weeks before we receive any paperwork, including his amended birth certificate listing us as his parents.  

 

For his first 2 cruises, we were able to obtain a certified/notarized letter from LA Family court listing us as his guardians and prospective adopted parents, as well as granting us permission to obtain a temporary passport on his behalf, which we did.  However, the US Dept of State put an expiration date on that passport of 12 months, as I assume that is what they deemed the appropriate time for the adoption to be finalized.  It expired in June 2019, and we submitted all the necessary (and same as the first time) paperwork to renew his passport for this cruise we have upcoming in October.

 

On Friday, we received a letter stating that the submitted documents no longer are accepted under the United States travel policy, and that we need to submit an original birth certificate listing us as the minor's parents in order to obtain a passport.  I immediately called the number on the letter and explained everything to the woman I spoke with.  While polite and cordial, in short she told me "tough" and that there was nothing she could do as this was the regulations of the law.  I asked if there was a supervisor I could explain the situation to, and offered to send the most recent letter we received from LA family court listing the adoption finalization date, prior to the cruise, but that we would not receive the birth certificate until after the cruise due to the backlog of cases.  She put in a request to speak to a supervisor, and indicated one should call me back in 10-14 business days!!!  (what?!?!)

 

As the cruise is in less than 2 months, as you can imagine, we are past final payment.  We are going to Canada and New England (if that helps).  But we're unsure what to do here.  Is a passport required for a child under 2?  Can we get away without one, although he have no other ID for him as his legal name is still his birth name, which is different as mine/wife's last name.  Are we basically screwed here and can't go on this cruise?  

 

Any help would be appreciated, and sorry for the long post.  

Just curious ... did you make it on board? I hope so! 

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