"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up" M. Ali

Not having kids together was a sacrifice we were willing to make if it meant finding each other in the first place, and we made a plan that encompassed adopting my son, getting primary custody of my daughter, and obtaining passports for all three of our kids. 

When we set off down the path of passports for the kids, we knew it would be an uphill battle against the co-parents in our child’s lives. I was just coming off a year long court case transitioning custodianship of my daughter to me, so I’d have to rebuild bridges before my ex would ever agree to me taking our daughter out of the country. I ended up having to sacrifice almost the entire month of May and three weeks in August with my daughter to make the trip possible, but I got myself through the lonely days by repeating ‘quality over quantity.’  

My teenage stepson was struggling in school and sneaking out at night which led to his father refusing to sign the Passport document until he brought his grades up and his behavior improved. However, these hurdles were trivial compared to the monumental task ahead of us which involved tracking down my sons biological father to serve him with adoption papers.

The adoption process took two years, two attorneys, $6500, a process server, a private investigator, a newspaper editor, and a lot of social media hunting. In the end, I was able to adopt my son in absentia when his biological father didn’t show up to court after several scheduled hearings. 

We immediately went to the vital records office following the hearing to have his name changed and request a new birth certificate to submit for his passport. However, the bureaucratic panic attacks had just begun because, prior to the court case, we had no idea if the adoption would be granted. Therefore, we decided to apply for all the passports at the same time using an Exigent Circumstances form for my son. It seemed straightforward, you write in the reason you can’t locate the other parent and then attach paperwork showing you’ve made reasonable efforts to contact them. 

We attached the private investigator notes along with the process server and figured that would be sufficient, but his passport request was summarily rejected and our application was placed into a paperwork purgatory pending the results of the adoption. This meant that even after my sons surname was officially changed we couldn’t apply for a new passport using the new last name, and the previous application we submitted using his old last name would need to be amended. Oh boy.

We decided to take a risk and purchase the tickets with his new name via the United website because it was already March and the “Super Saver” seats were starting to sell out. Also, due to my wife's calendar jujitsu, we knew we wouldn’t have all three of the kids together again, for an extended period of time, for another year and a half.  We strategically chose the month of June 2018 a long time ago for this reason, but it was risky to order the plane tickets without legal confirmation of the name change. Because of FAA regulations the last name on an airline ticket can’t be changed after purchasing and I would be essentially forfeiting the points I had accumulated to purchase the tickets in the first place if we couldn't get the name changed in time. 

However, the gamble paid off when we received my sons passport on May 22nd, 2018 and I saw he had my last name.  After opening the envelope I realized we were now celebrating a birthday on this trip.

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