It was my very first time.
I’d never been to an embassy or consulate before. Though I’ve lived in two different countries outside of the US and traveled to many others, I never before had a need to appear in person at such a place, American or otherwise. But that all changed the day we applied for Big Foot’s passport.
Seventeen days old and the kid not only goes on his first train ride but visits the US Consulate in Frankfurt as well. It’s like his parents are travelers or something. Sheesh.
In preparing for the trip, I’d been warned over and over in emails and on websites that the security measures were high and the list of restricted items was long. Among the things forbidden, I found predictable goods like cell phones, cameras, and electronics. However, I was surprised to discover that baby food in a plastic container was a-ok but baby food in a glass jar was prohibited. Baby food? Seriously? Oh the lengths people will go to hurt others.
Since we traveled to Frankfurt only for the day and had no alternative, we made sure to stash our cell phones and camera in a luggage locker at the Hauptbahnhof before heading over to the Consulate.
In front of the forbidding building, we waited in the visitor line until a very polite security guard escorted us to the front of the pack. He explained to everyone else that babies went first and asked the other visitors not to be bitter or complain (!).
After everyone’s passports were checked at the main gate(children included), we were given a number and instructions to proceed through security. The process was very similar to airport security minus the hurrying and high stress. We were allowed to take our pram inside, but every possible item on it or in it had to be removed and x-rayed.
As we walked to the main building, I noticed all the bars on the windows and the impossibly heavy front door. Doc Sci whispered to me, “It must be b-o-m-b proof!” And good thing considering what happened recently in Libya. Yikes.
The inside reminded me of, well, an American government building. It was rather freakish, really. I wanted to ask someone if the awful carpet and uncomfortable chairs had been imported.
When our number was called, we presented a mountain of paperwork: applications, documents, evidence of our citizenship and residency, etc. Luckily, we had all our ducks in a row, including the correct German birth certificate.
The woman processing our application chuckled at Big Foot’s picture. Though I also found it funny because I’m his mama and of course I think he’s hilarious already, it’s nothing like this awkward baby passport photo. (Need passport photos? Check out this post for how you can get them mostly or totally free!)
The whole shebang – questions, signatures, and an oath – only lasted about ten minutes. After using our American credit card to charge the fees in dollars (!), we were on our way.
Two and a half weeks later, we received Big Foot’s shiny spankin’ new passport. That must be some kind of record. Or perhaps it’s just faster to get a passport overseas where the demand is much less than mainland USA.
It might seem ridiculous to get a passport for such a wee one even if his parents do plan to schlep him all over the globe. But since we live in Germany, even Big Foot needs a visa to legally reside here. In a moment of clarity not typical for sleep deprived parents, we had decided to be proactive and go through the process as soon as possible. And good thing, for little did we know just how soon it would be needed…