by Sara Kruger
During his first year of life, my son, Teddy, flew 17,000 miles. We haven’t celebrated his second birthday quite yet, and Teddy has already crossed the country a few more times. Clearly, this child will be spending a lot of time in the air in the coming years. And from the moment we pushed his stroller down the jetway for his first flight, my husband, Mike, and I started talking about getting Teddy’s first passport.
Airlines allow babies under two to fly free as lap infants, so we never needed any kind of photo identification for him. That said, we always intended to acquire a passport for him once he turned two because, as an occupant of his own seat (but not yet in possession of a driver’s license), he would need some form of ID. But my parents have a home just a few miles south of the Canadian border, and photo ID is required to cross the 49th parallel. We want our little donut-lover to be able to munch a Tim Hortons confection with his grandma and grandpa when we visit. Also, Mike and I have lived and traveled in Europe, so procuring the document that allows for transatlantic adventures as Teddy’s first official piece of identification seemed logical.
However, we ended up needing Teddy’s first passport even sooner than we expected! During my parents’ most recent visit to DC, I wondered aloud to my mother how I was going to manage him by myself on our upcoming trip to visit them. As I was describing my vision of Teddy gleefully kicking the seatback of the passenger who had the misfortune to sit in front of us, my mother turned to my father, and after a brief, whispered conversation, then turned back to me and offered to purchase Teddy his own seat. Yay for grandparents!
With his own ticket, Teddy now needed photo identification, so we proceeded with our plans to get his identity formally laminated and assigned a number. Mike forwarded me the link to the application for a minor. About 10 weeks ahead of our planned flight, my patient hubby informed me that he’d read that getting a passport book can take four to six weeks—so I needed to get moving.
The process itself was not complicated: we had to print and fill out a form and gather a few documents, including Teddy’s certified adoption decree. The biggest hassle was waiting our turn at the passport acceptance facility at the post office, but once we were seated behind closed doors with the official, it was pretty snappy to get everything signed, sealed, and delivered. A mere six weeks later, we had a shiny new passport book for our son. (The original documents arrived a couple days later.)
Now our little frequent flyer has official identification whose benefits for us are twofold: peace of mind when encountering TSA and a pass for our future globetrotting. Teddy’s ready to travel to Vancouver or, when his parents’ wanderlust takes hold again, even Venice.