Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Red tape and Redmum

IF there is an easy way and a hard way for something official to be done, then you can guarantee that, generally, through no fault of my own, I have a million layers of bureaucracyto wade through.

It’s that time of year so take for example passports. Can you believe that I am supposed to seek the permission of my daughter’s father before I can get a passport, the so-called father who hasn’t done anything to deserve such a title in nine years, she’s now 13! The man who hasn’t seen her or attempted to see her since way before she started school.


I first encountered this problem when we had our first sun holiday away when she was seven years old and she either needed her own passport or to be included on mine.

Firstly having gotten the forms, I had them filled out and signed by the appropriate witnesses, only to find out that I needed another form which would be signed by her father in the presence of a member of the Gardai or another assigned professional.

Firstly I couldn’t believe this, I mean, really, I am supposed to phone him up, or go see him and ask her permission to get a passport for my daughter, I don’t bloody think so.

This was about six weeks before we were due to fly as it had all been last minute. So I forged the so-called father’s signature and asked a work colleague (who knew the score) to ask her husband (a principal and legal signatory) to countersign it.

So the next day, she brought it back in and to my utter dismay he had signed the wrong place. At the time I felt it was a genuine mistake but looking back on it, why would a teacher get such a simple thing wrong? While I maybe-ish understand their reluctance to do it, well actually no I don’t. She knew my situation and it’s more than a little disheartening to think they believed our situation didn’t warrant their help or that I would do something to get them into trouble. But sure the bottom line and more pressing worry was that I was back to square one and beginning to imagine contacting the fecker who ceased contacting us those years before.

Poring over the small print in the passport form I discovered I could also complete the application with letter from a solicitor stating I was the sole guardian, or so I thought at the time. I called on a friend of my father’s and ask him to write me one knowing the situation with my ex.

Despite thinking this was what I needed and one long wait in the passport office later, I was informed that I needed to legally do this, a letter wasn’t sufficient; I needed to go to the courts. I live in a different jurisdiction from my child’s father and this turns into a bit of a nightmare, not to mention that I just didn’t have the money to do it and the fact remained there was no compunction on him turning up. Bear in mind that this is the man who choose himself to leave our wonderful daughter out of his life.

So this is where things become really complicated, are you sure you are following this?

During the next lunchtime in work I visited a solicitor around the corner where I worked. I produced the letter which from my Dad’s pal and explained my dilemma and the urgency of getting the passport.

They signed the phone, charged me a fiver, stamped the form and did the same to my daughter’s birth certificate. Voila, as easy as that!!!

So back into the passport office and off we went on holiday.


For her first passport picture my daughter sported very fetchy and deadly cute ponytails at either side of her head.

As tempted as I was, and I REALLY, really was, I opted for a three-year passport. Much as I relished the thought of my beautiful daughter grimacing at the age of 18 handing over this 10-year portrait to custom officials or EEK, even worse, her mates, I couldn’t go through with it at the end of the day. (As an aside, the picture was so gorgeous that I had the passport framed when it expired).

If I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten the 10-year one, cos I had to go through the whole rigmarole again two years ago, the whole shibang.

Having obviously blotted all that nonsense, (that passport arrived the morning we were leaving, it couldn’t have been closer, tighter or more stressful) I this time thought ahead and phoned the passport office and said:

Me: I have this form, that form and oh this form, her old passport, can you tell me as a single parent, is there anything else I need?

Passport office: Nope that is everything you need.

Wouldn’t you think they’d know? Of course they didn’t. A morning off work taken out of my holiday entitlement later spent waiting in the passport office later and I was literally REDmum, frustrated, angry and seriously p*ssed off. After my long queue I was told that I needed to do the whole lot with the solicitor again.


One visit to the solicitor later and another fiver lighter I discovered that I should never have been given the passport in the first place, when the solicitor asked me some questions and concluded that they should not have signed the forms in the first place without a court order.

Sometimes you have to tell more to a stranger that you’d care to but I briefly explained the story and to my amazement, she signed it again. Hence another passport for another three years, at this point that is the limit for a child under 16 years old, worst luck for us, or should I say me, seeing as how I am going to have to traipse back to that solicitor when it’s needed again and I don’t work anywhere near there now. And whose to say they will do it the next time…

Sometimes as a parent, and sometimes as a single parent, you have to do what you have to do and I make absolutely no apologies for that. I make no apologies for having to break the law to do my job as a mother, particularly when the law is an ass, as they say. And I will not apologise for refusing to ask permission from yer man to plan things with my daughter.

These measures have been put in place to protect children but we know of cases where they haven’t worked, where children have been abducted by a parent. For the vast majority of parents this course of action would not enter their heads, but there are others who think differently and were they protected by these laws?

It’s a funny world when the laws put in place to protect you actually work against you.

But back to the end of the story, is there ever an end? My daughter lost her passport last year on holiday with her Nanny. AAarrrrggghhhh, thankfully though she is on my passport which doesn’t expire till 2009. What happens when school trips come up before her 16th birthday when she can do it herself with my permission (well I believe that to be the case)? I haven’t a foggy notion, but that’s a worry for another day.


Tis himself said...

My wife has an ex that she kindly refers to as "Daddy Deadbeat". He's been around only twice this year. Thank goodness she doesn't need his signature for anything. All single parents deserve free airlines tickets to wherever they want to go (and free passports) And the deadbeat parents should be obligated by law to buy the tickets and passports.

Bernard said...

I think you can work around this snag by changing the surnames of the kids. That works in at least one other case I know. But you need the father's permission to change the surname.

Red Mum said...

She has my name but the problems arises because he is on the birth certificate and his permission is necessary, unfortunately.

Thanks for your comments, I was slightly worried that people might be horrified at my law-breaking, not that I am, but you know yerselves!