Picture it. Your friendly blogger has received word from the lovely and gracious Vonnie that the Ireland trip is officially on. Woo hoo! So, I had to acquire a passport. Easy, right? Well, let’s just say that I’ve been having the same luck with the bureaucracy as my friend Duane.
First, I complete the required DS-11 and order a certified copy of my birth certificate from the State of Michigan. Easy enough. Then, I go to the Grand Rapids main post office for their monthly “passport fair.” You know — the time when they have extra people to help process applications. Except that the clerks who are authorized to accept passport applications are wise to this latest USPS scam, so a majority called in “sick,” resulting in long lines and cranky citizens.
For a full 90 minutes, I waited patiently in line for my turn. And then — success! I actually had face time with a postal clerk. Who refused my application.
See, in 1986 my mother’s second husband adopted me and my brother. As is required by federal law, I disclosed my actual birth name on my passport application. The clerk told me that, contra the State Department instructions, I needed to substantiate the name change with a certified court order.
Mirabile dictu, it turns out that I actually did have a copy of the original, certified order of adoption, nestled deep in the recesses of my filing cabinet. So, I grabbed this document — and everything else in my “identification” folder — and trudged back to the post office on Thursday morning.
Guess what? In 1986, the court clerk who prepared the order of adoption never — not once! — referenced my birth name in the order of adoption and order of name change. So, technically, there exists no legal document that actually explains how the original Jason became the current Jason.
After debate and discussion among the postal clerks, which incidentally featured them yelling private details of my application across the lobby, they decided to accept my paperwork but warned me that “Chicago” might reject it.
Which raises an interesting point. If “Chicago” decides against granting me a passport, what are my options? Re-filing the DS-11 without noting my original birth name may well earn me a felony charge. But the alternative is to head back to the county courthouse in Grand Haven and ask for an order amending a 22-year-old order in what is, probably, a sealed case.
The ultimate irony is that my own government might not grant me a passport on the grounds that I can’t establish my identity. In which case, I might stop paying taxes, and when the IRS comes with a garnishment order, I can ask them to prove that I’m the taxpayer who’s delinquent. Argh.