When toddlers attack

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slumping towards home - Leaving, Part 1

No, we're not still in our room at Svelte.  Yes, I'm still blogging.  But, damn!  These baby things are a great big time-suck!  Who knew?

Things unfolded thusly:

The Passports

Gagan at the U.S. Embassy called us on Monday afternoon to let us know that the girls' passports indeed had arrived as foretold.  I left Adrián on diaper duty at the hotel and headed to the embassy and back.  Turns out the passports had arrived, but the consular reports of births abroad (CRBA) had not.  I decided that that was not a tragedy, since we didn't need them to head home, and the girls won't need them until they have to prove they were U.S. citizens from birth, like, you know, if they run for president or something.  Sure, the first female, Spanish/Catalan-speaking, half-Indian, part-Jewish daughter of gay dads president.  It could happen.

I couldn't choke back my "awwww!" when I opened the passports.  I even showed Gagan behind the glass window.  The little infant pictures next to all the stats beloved of passport control officials everywhere was kind of like seeing a passport for my dog, cute but sort of pretend.


That set the stage for a manic next day -- starting off with the most daunting, the most terrifying, most dreaded circle of bureaucratic Hades ever to face an intended parent:  the Foreigners Regional Registration Office, or FRRO.     Since legions of parents have gone before, and since everyone assured us it's much easier than it once was, and especially since John and Michael at Our Gemini Dragons had already posted the best guide to the FRRO - EVER, we only cried a little as we approached the blue fiberglass awning covering the waiting area. 

No, not "FRO"

Picture two groupings of metal chairs divided by an aisle.  The chairs face a table on which sits a paper held down, this day, by a piece of wood.  We sign in, number nine. A sign directs Afghan applicants to sit on the right; everyone else to sit on the left.  Satish, the driver, says he can get a great deal on "Fair and Lovely" for his wife at the army canteen next door and we sit with assorted other Westerners, amusing ourselves by trying to keep flies off the girls and by trying to decide which one of the Afghan refugees is most handsome.  At one point, nature calls, and I rush inside in search of a toilet.  I find a traditional Indian one, sunk in the ground.  That wasn't the problem.  The lack of soap, toilet paper or even a toilet-side nozzle thingie like the one I've grown secretly fond of at our hotel, are.  I'm reminded once again why it's rude to eat with your left hand in India, and decide that perhaps I really don't have to go as badly as I thought I did.

We arrived at 8:45.  At 9:30 on the dot a man comes out, picks up the paper, and chaos ensues.  He begins to call people by groups of five.  A man tells us to barge our way to the front with the babies, which we do, and we're directed inside. 

I think I read a book once where Hell is an endless bureaucratic office.  The author must have visited the FRRO -- desks line the walls, each with its own resident little grey man (no women work here, that I can see) or two.  Paper is stacked high on each desk.  Not a computer terminal in sight.  Chairs are lined up in the center of the room, suggesting that this may not be a brief encounter. 

The chairs lie.  We're in and out in about a half-hour. 

We go, as directed by John and Michael, to the reception desk, just to our right as we walk in the room.  The man gives us a list of four or five required documents, and I note with trepidation that it includes a "letter from your hotel."  That wasn't on the list SCI gave us... in fact, it wasn't on the FRRO's online list of required documents, either.  He sends me to the ominous chairs to put the papers in order.  I've already made duplicates of everything back at the hotel.  I am PREPARED!

"Where is the letter from your hotel?" asks Grey Man Number One with a whiff of annoyance.  "It is required." 

"Ummm... here!"  I say, offering him a bill for incidentals Svelte had presented us this morning.  Evidently, it's close enough.  He huffs quietly, takes the bill out of the envelope, stares for a second, then adds it to the pile of xeroxed copies I had given him. 

Stamp.  Stamp.  "Come back at 3:00," he says. 



  1. Oh my word sounds like madness, with some logic. Hope it all gets sorted soon! X

  2. I am pretty sure your sense of humour is a propellant because you are charging along. Grand news, almost at the finish line !

  3. Glad to see you blogging again.

  4. I am so glad to see that you are closer to getting home. When I was at a surrogacy conference in Australia in May this year an Indian official talked about the bureaucracy as you have described so your story has not disappointed. We have 3 on the way and one of them will be born after the twins. I think we will just wait and make one trip only to FRRO rather than do it twice! All the best for safe journey home

  5. Great to hear from you guys! I hope the girls are doing well!!!

  6. I can't handle this stress!!!

  7. SOOOO GLAD to see you writing again. I can picture it and smile because you GOT THROUGH IT ALL! So much joy and looking forward to the next chapter. SO EXCITED by all the daddies with babies, my grdaughter will have lots of compatriots with two daddies! And maybe some day the world will agree to be sensible and totally celebrate love and marriage and parenthood without such silliness that we see today.
    You have given us more miracle babies of love and conviction.... Would that all babies born had parents who want them so much and will care so well for them. I see these babies as points of light and hope and love in the future.
    LOTS of baby smiles and reasonable baby sleep on you all.
    CA grandmother

  8. Yay almost home! (that pictures a 'fro' and a half lol)

  9. Glad to hear all coming along well!!! Best wishes, K&J

  10. Hope it's easy-peasy at 3pm! Congrats!!!

  11. Can't wait to chat and catch up on the rest of the story. You may remember the situation was very similar for us, but when we came back at 3pm, nothing had been done with our paperwork. They said they were busy and to sit. We sat, the men behind the desks sat, chatted and joked with eachother. I got up and played the annoying American a few times to prod them along. Eventually, an hour and 45 minutes later, we paid our fee and got the hell outta there. Agreed. Closest place to Hell on Earth as I've ever been too...although Old Delhi at night feels pretty darn spooky as well!

  12. So glad to read your updated post and glad you found the FRRO video helpful in the process.
    It's good you were prepared when they asked for a letter from the hotel. I recall each time they said something was missing, I got stressed too.
    Also, I agreed with you that the newborns can be an incredible time-sink. In a blink of an eye, 2-3 hrs can pass from feed/burp/change and rock to sleep. None of my experienced parent warned me about that. Also, no one told me we may develop back aches from chronically picking them up and walking around. Hope your backs are doing better than ours.