Have I mentioned that it takes about 37 to 54 steps to get anything accomplished in the UAE? You think I am kidding… I am not! In order for me to obtain my visa, I had to have our original marriage license attested by the Texas Secretary of State and then sent to Washington DC to be once again attested, this time by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. That was just one of the many steps to the visa process. Then, when I got to Dubai I had to go to a local hospital and have blood drawn and get a chest xray (but I got to skip the xray because I was pregnant). The plethora of steps to every process sure does make for a bunch of paperwork… here is mine from the hospital that one day…
Oh, and I did I mention Emiratis love their stamps?!? They stamp everything!!! You can have the most official document from the States, but if it doesn’t have some form of colored stamp on it, everyone thinks it is fake and will not except it. They even stamp your receipts at H&M when you purchase something. Stamping is a serious business over here!
Now, with all the steps and stamping going on I was a little apprehensive about the process of making Leighton’s birth official, but I didn’t want a little anchor baby on my hands. Along with Leighton’s Certificate of Live Birth, the hospital gave me a step by step process of how to get her Birth Certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Passport and Visa. I was having flashbacks of getting my named changed after getting married and what a headache that was. However, unlike the name change, this process has a timeline that has to be followed!
When my mom was in town, right after I had Little L, we headed over to a local Hospital to get the proper stamps and paperwork to obtain her Birth Certificate. After multiple offices, several forms, tons of people watching, a lot of waiting and one glass of Indian spiced tea from a stranger, we had the birth certificate! And yes, I helped an Emirati woman who was assisting me with the clasp on her bracelet and she insisted that I try her tea. Not knowing where her coffee cup with rainbow colored hearts on the side had been, I politely said, “no thank you”… however, she insisted. Arab hospitality is very similar to southern hospitality except that refusing something offered to you is considered disrespectful… so I drank this random woman’s tea… and it was surprisingly good! I kindly thanked her for the sip but she kept insisting that I finish the entire glass and that my mom tried the tea also. So, we stood there and finished the tea, thanked the insistent but kind woman and went on our merry way with the Birth Certificates in hand hoping that tea would not come back to haunt us!
Here is the original Arabic one… notice all the lovely stamps
(5 rubber and 2 real).
This is the translated one… I think it is funny that even though
they didn’t ask me they listed her as a Christian.
Next step… the passport! This passport step was fairly easy… minus the fact that the consulate took awhile to find because the actual address is not listed and once we found it we had to go through three metal detectors, a full body wanding and a bullet proof door. That being said, the hardest part was the silly passport photo itself. A newborn must have both of their eyes open, both ears showing and their head has to be straight up and down in their photo with a white background. Jon and I had to have several photo shoots with Leighton. I put about 12 photos on a CD and headed to the Kodak store. The lady their selected the picture she thought would work the best. When I got home and showed Jon, we literally laughed so hard we cried, lost our breaths, laughed some more and I think I might have peed my pants a little in the process.
Jon said she looked like an awkward 7th grade boy named Todd in this
picture. Todd likes to wear old cargo shorts and band t-shirts that might happen to have Cheetoh stains on the sleeve where he whipes his hands occasionally. Todd was caught off guard in this picture because someone told him that it was chicken nugget day in the cafeteria and he said in his Todd voice…” (heavy breathing followed by more heavy breathing) I totally like chicken nuggets!” Now, Jon and I joke a lot, but we figured that Leighton would never forgive us if we actually used this picture for her passport. So, I selected another picture and got them printed, filled out all the proper CBRA and passport paperwork and that was that. Now we are to the next and last step, the visa… wish us luck!
Leighton's actual passport photo...