10 months already?

10 Mar

This week, Henry and Julianne will be 10 months old.  I can hardly believe how quickly they are changing from tiny, milk-hungry blobs into real human beings!  Julianne often smiles with her one gummy tooth and mutters PaPaPaPa… I’m not sure if she understands what she is saying or is just mimicking, but either way, it’s amazing.  Henry can pull himself up into a standing position, but hasn’t quite figured out how to get back down.  Our days tend to repeat themselves on the same sleep and feeding schedule, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Here are a few pics (because we have truly been horrible at updating this blog):

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During my downtime (ha) this week, I want to write an update on the second parent adoption process in the state of New York.  We seem to be moving in the right direction, but it is taking much longer than we anticipated.

-Matt

Five-Month Twin Photos

14 Nov

The 10 most-liked photos of Julianne and Henry from their fifth month.

Now five months old, Julianne and Henry are able to roll over and are just starting to laugh. :)

Now five months old, Julianne and Henry are able to roll over and are just starting to laugh. :)

Sleeping beauty. :)

Sleeping beauty. :)

A girl and her dog.

A girl and her dog.

At five months old, adventures in solid foods are under way. Last week we started with baby oatmeal; this week it's squash and carrots. Julianne mastered spoon feeding right out of the gate. Henry is now starting to catch on, too.

At five months old, adventures in solid foods are under way. Last week we started with baby oatmeal; this week it’s squash and carrots. Julianne mastered spoon feeding right out of the gate. Henry is now starting to catch on, too.

Daddy Josh and Henry. :)

Daddy Josh and Henry. :)

Henry in his first button-down shirt, ready for a day of touring Washington, DC.

Henry in his first button-down shirt, ready for a day of touring Washington, DC.

These faces brightened a Monday right up.

These faces brightened a Monday right up.

Julianne on her way to tour the Capitol.

Julianne on her way to tour the Capitol.

Babies after breakfast.

Babies after breakfast.

(The most-liked photo from the kids' fifth month, a throwback to 11/11/11): Five years ago today we met. Two years ago today we got married. And, oh my, just think of all that's happened since. ;)

(The most-liked photo from the fifth month, a throwback to 11/11/11): Five years ago today we met. Two years ago today we got married. And, oh my, just think of all that’s happened since. ;)

–Josh

Fourth-Month Twin Photos

19 Oct

I take a lot of photos of our twins–nearly 1,000 a month, according to the camera roll on my iPhone–and sometimes it’s hard to pick which ones to post. In sharing some of the twin’s photos from their fourth month, I decided to take an easier, democratic approach and let the most-liked photos from our Instagram account become the official selections.

So, without further ado . . . [drum roll]

Julianne's favorite movie is John Hughes's "Pretty in Pink". ;)

Julianne’s favorite movie is John Hughes’s “Pretty in Pink”. ;)

Julianne and Henry go for a stroll in our NYC neighborhood.

Julianne and Henry go for a stroll in our NYC neighborhood.

"Good morning, Daddy!"

“Good morning, Daddy!”

Henry and Julianne already have inside jokes. ;)

Henry and Julianne already have inside jokes. ;)

Pajama party!

Pajama party!

Ta da! The most-liked photo from the twins' fourth month. This is when Julianne and Henry were really becoming aware of each other for the first time, and Henry was feeling pretty excited about it all. ;)

Ta da! The most-liked photo from the twins’ fourth month. Julianne and Henry were just becoming truly aware of each other for the first time, and Henry was feeling pretty excited about it all. ;)

–Josh

Three- and Four-Month Updates

30 Sep

Julianne & Henry 3 months photo

Julianne & Henry 4 months photo

I blinked, and suddenly Julianne and Henry are four-and-a-half months old.

Honestly, I don’t know where the time went.

I feel like there’s been this snowball effect in how quickly the changes are coming. Henry started babbling first, quite a while ago, with Julianne following not long after. They love to tell me squeaky, animated, smiley little stories during the day now (and groan away when it’s nap time ;)).

Just last Monday (less than two weeks ago) Henry turned from his back to his front for the first time, and he’s been taking advantage of his new-found skill ever since. Almost every nap and overnight is now on his tummy, which at first freaked his poor dads out. We of course are always putting him to bed on his back, but he flips to his front pretty much right away, pops in his thumb, and conks out. We’ve been watching the video baby monitor like crazy to make sure he’s got his head to the side so he can breathe properly, and so far so good on that front.

Julianne can turn about 85% of the way from back to front, but she still gets stuck on her right arm and can’t quite complete the turn yet, but I’m sure she’s not far behind. In the meantime, she does a lot of sleeping on her side, with her legs in scissor kick formation. Julianne has the most amazing all-gums smile that Matt and I just live for. She smiles slightly less often than Henry (and he has a megawatt smile), so when you get a big smile out of her you really feel like you’ve hit the lottery.

We’ve been all about organization and planning with sleep training and daily scheduling, and consequently the kids are really quite content and hit their feeding and sleeping marks well throughout the day. They now feed about every four hours, starting around 7 a.m., with final bottle around 7 or 7:30 p.m. Two hours after a feeding they go down for a nap, sleep for about two hours, and then are ready to feed again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Once the twins are in bed for the night, they sleep until around 2 a.m or 3 a.m., then I feed them a bottle, and they sleep through to about 7 a.m. That means they usually get in a 6-7 hour sleep stretch overnight, which is pretty good. They’re also up to five-ounce feedings (150 mL), and Julianne, who’s a little shorter and lighter than Henry, can sometimes eat more than her brother. She’s a growing girl. :)

Having the kids on such a good schedule has made my life as an at-home dad pretty manageable. They hit nap time and Daddy can throw in some laundry, do a load of dishes (and bottles–oh, the bottles!), and sometimes get in a little Dad time (a few pages of a novel or a magazine, or a sandwich and a few minutes of a TV show on Hulu).

At their last check-up (at four months and one week), Julianne weighed 12 lbs. 12 oz. (5.75 kg) and was 23.25 inches tall (59 cm). Henry weighed 14 lbs. (6.35 kg) and was 24.75 inches tall (63 cm). They’re both healthy and doing well, and (knock on wood!) haven’t been sick yet.

They’ve both grown out of the Kirkland Size 1-2 diapers, and are now both in Huggies Size 2 diapers. Henry will probably be graduating to Kirkland Size 3 pretty soon, though.

The other day Matt and I went to a Carter’s store in Queens and kind of accidentally had a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman-style baby clothes shopping spree. We bought 6-month sizes, all warmer stuff for the cool autumn weather that’s creeping in. When we were picking the clothes out I was thinking to myself, “What are these, toddler clothes? They’re huge! They won’t fit the kids until Christmas!” And then we got home, tried them on the kids, and they pretty much fit. My heart broke a little bit. The clothes are cute, and the kids are happy and warm, but they’re getting so big.

I know. We’re going to be saying that a lot, I’m sure. I’ll try not to sound like a broken record.

Other than that, things are going pretty well. More soon! I’ll try not to let time slip away from me like that again. But, you know, things have been a little busy. ;)

Josh

VIDEO: Gay Dads Matt & Josh Bring Their Twins Home from Mumbai to NYC

11 Aug

Back in May, when our twins were first born (via surrogate), we made a video of going to Mumbai to meet Henry and Julianne for the first time.

Twenty days later, we brought Henry and Julianne home. On our way home from Mumbai, we brought the kids to Wilmington, NC, to meet Matt’s family. Then we rented a car and drove back to New York City.

Here’s that journey, all in a few minutes. :)

Two-Month Update

19 Jul

julianne and henry two months

Julianne, just over 4 lbs. at birth, now weighs 8.5 lbs. Henry, just over 5 1/4 lbs. at birth, now weighs 10.5 lbs. Both have doubled their weight since birth, and have grown more than 1.5 inches each since their one-month visit to the pediatrician.

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Part of all this growing means that they’re both now too big for their newborn clothes. Henry hasn’t been able to fit them for some time now, but Julianne has now joined him in wearing 0-3 months clothes. Packing up these tiny little outfits–the torso barely bigger than an iPhone–made me a little nostalgic. They weren’t joking: it really does go fast.

henry smile

Both of the kids have begun social smiles. Henry gives them a little more readily than Julianne as they approach nine weeks old, but when either of them smile like that our hearts melt.

julianne

Fresh-scrubbed little girl.

henry

Fresh-scrubbed little boy.

julianne and butter

A girl and her dog.

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At feedings, the kids both drink about 3 ounces of formula now. Julianne eats every 2.5-3 hours, and Henry likes to eat every 3-4 hours (but has gone as long as 5.5 hours between feedings).

Early on, our little girl was more apt to cry and need a little extra attention. They’ve now switched, and Henry is a little more apt to cry and need the extra TLC, while Julianne has become our mellow baby. But I’m sure they’ll switch it up again sometime soon, just to keep their daddies on their toes. ;)

I’m averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night (as Matt has taken on the 11 p.m. feeding, my one solid sleeping block for the night), and can get 30-45 minutes of napping in during the day. “Sleep when they sleep” is well-meaning advice, but with twins, and twins now on slightly different feeding schedules, that means different daytime nap schedules, and a little less napping time for Daddy Josh.

But, of course, this stage will pass, and (supposedly) not long from now. They say that when both babies are either 12 weeks or 12 lbs. you can start doing sleep training and get them to start sleeping through the night without a feeding. I’ve had 7 hours of sleep exactly once since they were born 68 days ago, and often get about half that much sleep, so I have to admit I’m a little excited at the prospect of 5-6+ solid hours of sleep in a night.

That’s Henry and Julianne at two months. More soon. :)

–Josh

Settling In at Home

19 Jun

You know how casinos are known for not having clocks or windows anywhere, and once you’re inside it’s hard to tell if it’s day or night, and all the lights and colors and sounds can get almost disorienting, and you sort of drift through in a near-hypnotic time-ignorant daze? Parenting newborns can be a lot like that. It’s almost like a time vortex ensues. Days go by so fast now that time seems to almost morph and warp forward instead of just steadily ticking by.

All that said, here’s a bit about what’s happened in the last two weeks.

henry flying homeOn June 3, Matt, Ellen, the twins and I all got on United Flight 49 and flew from Mumbai to Newark; then Newark to Charlotte, NC; and Charlotte to Wilmington, NC. The first flight was 16 hours, and the twins handled it really well. After getting fussed over by the flight attendants, Julianne and Henry promptly passed out for almost the entire flight. They woke every three hours for a feeding and diaper change, but didn’t make much of a peep other than that. Luckily, Matt and Ellen each had empty seats next to them, so Henry and Julianne each had their own seats, too.

We flew to Wilmington instead of going right home to NYC so that we could introduce the twins to Matt’s dad and siblings, and 86-year-old grandma, and also pick up our dog, Butter, who’d been staying with Matt’s parents for several weeks while we got the kids home from India.

four generations w womenOn our first night in Wilmington there was this great moment where Matt’s grandma (Dot), mom (Ellen), sister (Audra), and our daughter were all together for the first time. It was a really cool experience to have four generations together in one room. Though we were a bit bleary-eyed, it was also amazing to be back in the United States after more than 20 days abroad.

h & j grandma dot 3.5 wks

Henry and Julianne, 3 1/2 weeks old, playing on the floor at Grandma Dot’s house.

drive home

On Friday, June 7, Matt and I headed back to New York City with the twins and the dog. I still had a ton of Hertz rewards points from all of my work travel, so we rented a GMC Yukon from the Wilmington Airport, set to be returned at La Guardia Airport in Queens, just over 600 miles away.

Matt and I have done that drive together quite a few times, usually around the holidays. (We’d fly, but we’re not fans of having Butter ride in the airplane cargo hold.) But this time we had Butter, and the twins, and were driving home through Tropical Storm Andrea. The. Entire. Time. tropical storm andreaWe thought we’d avoid it, but it turns out that instead, as you see from the map on the right, we just ended up driving through the entire body of the storm.

It rained for 17 hours and 22 minutes, pretty much non-stop, as we drove from North Carolina back to New York.

tweets from roadtripLucky for us, the twins were pretty great about it. They snoozed in their car seats almost the entire way. Matt drove, doing an excellent job of navigating the storm, while I sat in back and attended to the twins. We did have a couple snafus, once with formula that was cold (it got dramatically spit right back up–oops!), and there were also a couple diaper poopmergencies that got resolved in the trunk of the SUV in McDonald’s parking lots in the pouring rain. (Good times.) I still find it a little crazy that flying home 8,130 miles from Mumbai to Newark took us 16 hours, and driving 600 miles from NC to NYC took us more than 17 hours.

It’s hard to express the relief and gratitude we felt when we rode the elevator up in our apartment building in New York and opened our apartment door for the first time in almost a month. I wanted to simultaneously kiss the ground, and also sleep for about a hundred years.

The next morning it was really nice out, so we had our patio doors open. Matt and I had just finished feeding the kids, and Butter hopped up on the sofa next to us. The five of us were finally gathered at home, just curled up and hanging out together on a Saturday morning. It was a really gratifying bookend to a long journey.

Mission accomplished.

Now all we have to do is raise them. ;)

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After our first weekend home, Matt went back to work on Monday morning. My first week as a stay-at-home dad went pretty well. My life is essentially on a 90-minute alternating loop: it takes about 90 minutes to feed, change, and soothe both kids, and then they sleep for about 90 minutes. It’s a binary three-hour block that repeats around the clock. I’ve been taking all the weekday overnight feedings since Matt is back at work, so I usually try and go to bed around sunset, and get about four hours of sleep while Matt watches them. Then I take over again and get 60-to-90-minute cat naps throughout the night.

Tiring? Yep. But it’s really just a predictable series of repeating tasks, and for the most part Henry and Julianne are pretty easy babies. Sometimes they have indigestion, and that can get a little hairy, but most of the feedings are textbook affairs.

ABC-Scandal-PosterThank god for iPhones and Hulu. During the bottle feedings and burping I’ve watched the final four episodes of Smash, more than a dozen episodes of Scandal, and ten episodes of Mad Men (catching me up on the current season). It’s kind of like pausing and coming back to visual chapter books all night as I take care of the twins. Makes it all go by pretty smoothly.

Matt doesn’t often have to travel for work, but this week he’s gone Monday through Thursday in Atlanta for a work event, mom henryso my mom flew in for a few days to meet the babies, hang out, and help out a bit. It’s been great to have her here. It was also pretty amazing to see her holding my son and daughter for the first time. (Mom is holding Henry in the photo on the right.) It’s been a nice bonding experience. Matt gets back on Thursday, and the same day my grandparents will fly in from Madison, WI, and stay for a week. It’s been so nice to have all this family around.

So, do forgive this addle-brained new dad for a somewhat rambling post, but after two hours of sleep last night (the poor kids had probably their toughest night since birth, but are back to normal now), it’s the best I could muster. ;)

Hope to have more photos up soon, too.

–Josh

FRRO part 2

9 Jun

You would not believe how hard it is to find the time to write a blog post while meeting all of the needs of your twins.  Josh and I got back to NYC late Friday evening and I have been trying to find a moment to write about our exit experience since then.  Right now, Henry is sleeping379732_10151646299009474_1241396251_n in a Boppy on the couch next to me while Julianne is snoozing (briefly) in a Graco slider.  Our dog, Butter, is laying on the other side of me, paws over his ears to block out all of the baby grunting.

As Josh wrote a few days ago, I was able to obtain the exit permits from the FRRO in Mumbai in 4 working days.  Had I left the process to run its course, I am convinced that we would still be sitting in our hotel room in Mumbai.  We applied for the exit permits on a Wednesday morning, our processing associate, Sunita, scanned the documents and completed her portion of the process that evening, and she phoned our mobile to let us know.  We waited through Thursday and Friday, occasionally communicating with Sunita to check her computer to see if Delhi had approved the requests.  On Monday, I decided to take a trip back to the FRRO (without the twins) to put a face on our request.  The pictures below show the actual entrance to the building, as well as the staircase up to the 3rd floor.  Disgusting.  I repeated the same process as last time, waited until I was called to the reception desk, and told them that I was picking up exit permits.  This got me access to the processing area where I initially applied for the permits.  Sunita was there, and she checked again while I stood next to her.  On the screen, it was apparent that all of the documents had been received in Delhi on Wednesday, printed by someone on Friday morning, but no action had been taken to approve them.  I asked Sunita how to proceed and she suggested that I speak with her boss in the next room over.  She suggested that I literally beg for his help and that he may take pity on me and help.  It’s kinda disgusting that this nasty guy requires grovelling to offer any assistance, but I figured that I would try it anyway.  I sat down with him and explained the entire process, to which he said, ‘There is nothing I can do.  Your consulate has to call Delhi.’  That’s it.  No phone numbers, no explanation why my consulate would have any frrophotopower over the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, nothing.  This guy was a joke.  I bought a chai from a roving tea porter for 10 rupees and silently seethed.

I called American Citizens Services (+91 22 2672-4000) at 10:30 AM despite their non-emergency hours not starting until 2 pm.  I was able to have the operator connect me to a consular officer and I explained the situation.  The officer said that she knew what to do and that she would try to expedite the process.  I spent the next few hours in those waiting room chairs, occasionally chatting with other foreigners who were obtaining visa extensions and other documents.  I held a baby for an hour for a man who was also applying for an exit permit (and was doing the entire thing alone!) and I chatted with a few of the teachers from the American School of Bombay who are required to register at the FRRO annually.  One of the teachers, Tiffany, spent quite a bit of time chatting with me about her experiences in Mumbai, and she offered to bring me back some food when she returned at 3:30 to pick up her approved paperwork.

At 2 pm, the entire FRRO shuts down for lunch.  At 1:45, I checked again with Sunita and she pulled up our case on her computer.  Success!  Apparently the email that the US Consulate sent to the Delhi MHA had worked.  Henry’s application was marked “APPROVED as per regulation xxx.xxx.  Please immediately issue exit permission.”  Sunita smiled as she was now personally invested in this process too.  She quickly pulled up Julianne’s case and her smile faded.  “Julianne has not been given permission from Delhi yet.”stairsphoto

This is the point where I lost it.  I demanded to know why only one child would be approved when they were clearly born as twins.  Since this was coming up on 2 pm, I was told to wait through the lunch break to see if the second application would be approved in the next hour.  I spent that hour trying to reach the US Consulate again, but it was their lunch hour, so they were not answering the phone.  At 3 pm, Julianne’s application was still pending, and I realized that this was not going to resolve itself by waiting any longer.  Clearly, the lack of approval of one twin was just an oversight on Delhi’s part, but no one at the FRRO seemed to care.  I asked Sunita to talk to her boss again, explain that one baby had clearly outlined permission to leave, and to see if he could ‘override’ the lack of Delhi permission.  Sunita agreed (and looked nauseous that she would have to speak to her boss) and she came back at 3:15 with permission to grant the second exit permit using the verbiage from Henry’s approval.  I was thrilled but also realized that this man had the ability to grant an exit visa all along, and was just making me wait because he truly didn’t care either way.10185_10101071534353416_649972160_n

While Sunita printed the bill, Tiffany returned from her shopping adventures.  Sometimes strangers can completely affect your day, and I have to say that Tiffany turned my horrible experience into something amazing.  She and I had spent time chatting about Henry and Julianne, so when she returned and handed me a bag with two beautiful onesies and a card, I was speechless.  Thank you again for your kindness on such a miserable day!   The little elephant print is adorable.

The bill for exit permits was broken down into two parts for each child.  The processing fee was $80 US and the fee for my incorrect visa type was $30 US.  These figures are converted into rupees and it worked out to be just under INR 6000 per child.  I was not given a hard time about my lack of a medical visa, and I was happy to pay the fine just to speed up the process.  If you are coming to India and they will not grant you a medical visa because you are considered to be a ‘single’ parent, don’t worry about it.  The fee is still cheaper than applying for the medical visa anyway.  I suggest applying for the exit permits and then immediately contacting your embassy to have them email a request to the MHA.  They can only gently suggest to the Indian government that you require approval, but it definitely helps.

I paid the cashier at his desk, immediately behind the row of computers where Sunita and I had spent most of the day.  He gave me my receipts and I returned to Sunita to pick up the exit permits.  She spent a few minutes stamping and signing the documents, and by 4 pm, I was on my way back to the hotel.  I called Josh and asked him to check on bumping our flight to that evening’s United 49 to Newark.  We used our points to secure 3 seats for the adults, paid the 10% international lap child fee for the twins, and were able to amazingly secure flights from Bombay all the way to Wilmington, NC for 40k points a piece, leaving at 11:10 pm.  The exit permits were granted for 3 days duration, so if we needed to, we could have left any time before Thursday evening, but we were so anxious to get home that we happily gave up our points for Tuesday’s hotel stay and checked out early.

In my next post, I will write about the trip home and our experiences in Wilmington with my family.  No promises, as a baby’s appetite waits for no man, but I hope to have this done in a few days.

-Matt

Our Family is Coming Home!

3 Jun

GREAT NEWS!

Matt camped out at the Indian FRRO office today, here in Mumbai, and HE GOT THE EXIT VISAS FOR THE TWINS!

celebrateMatt called to tell us the good news at 3:30 p.m. Looks like we’re all set to take tonight’s flight from Mumbai back to the United States, leaving in just hours. (Thank god for airline reward miles!) Matt, Ellen, Julianne, Henry and I will fly Mumbai to Newark, then on to Charlotte, NC, and finally to Wilmington, NC.

By 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, we’ll be in Wilmington, NC, where we’ll reunite with Matt’s family, and with our dog, Butter, whom we haven’t seen for 36 days. (He’s been staying with Matt’s family there during our adventures bringing the kids home.)

We’ll stay in Wilmington for a day or two and then drive back home (in a rental) to New York City with our pup and twins. :)

After 20 full days in India, words can barely express how excited we are to be COMING HOME!

–Josh

The Dreaded FRRO Mumbai

2 Jun

I needed to take a few days off before writing about our final step of the process, the dreaded FRRO (Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office).  This was like the DMV without any rules.  I knew in advance that the FRRO in Mumbai was requesting a dozen different documents to complete the applications for our twins’ exit permits.  In addition, Mumbai FRRO has decided that they will no longer process applications for ‘single’ parent (i.e. gay) surrogacies, and thus sends the scanned documents via email to the Delhi Ministry of Home Affairs for approval before issuing the exit permits locally.  I don’t know why only Mumbai FRRO has decided this, as the FRROs in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi, and pretty much everywhere else are still allowing it, but that’s the hand we have been dealt.

As soon as we picked up the baby passports and letter of introduction from the US consulate, I returned home to fill out the FRRO applications online.  I printed a copy of each child’s application in the business center, and made sure that I had a full set of documents for each child.  It’s better to make an entire second set of copies just in case, because the copy machine at the FRRO is not something you want to deal with.  After completing the applications, you are given the option to select the date of your physical appointment at the FRRO.  Thankfully, there were still slots available for the following day.  The slots are not for a specific time, so it’s best to arrive well before the doors open at 9:30 AM.

The following day, Wednesday, Mom and I loaded the babies into our car and took the 45-minute drive down to the FRRO.  Here is a  YouTube video made by hammockguy66, who thoughtfully filmed the drive up to the building, as there are no signs on the main road.  It is located down the road, behind St. Xavier College’s welcome sign, so make sure your driver turns when he sees that sign.  We left the hotel at 7 am to account for any traffic and arrived around 7:45.  You will never be prepared for this experience, so let me just explain that the building itself looks like a bombed-out warehouse.  The sign that lists the departments on each floor is not attached to the wall… someone just propped it up against the building next to a pile of trash.  A security guard sits at a folding card table stacked with large ledgers6943601469_f545c7f14a_z in front of an open door frame leading into the building.  The doors have long been removed and are nowhere to be found, but the brackets that once held them in place are still swinging in the sweltering breeze.  When you peek into the entryway, you see a set of stairs covered in dust and construction materials, live wires hanging down that should probably be avoided, and an elevator that looks like it could easily become your coffin.  I’m not exaggerating.

The security guard was very nice and explained that we were extremely early and that we could have a set on a bench right next to his own chair.  The bench looks like it was stolen from an airport lounge 20 years ago, but it was comfortable enough.  At 9 AM, the guard suddenly announced that people could start signing their names into the ledger and head upstairs to the 3rd floor waiting room.  Despite the order in which you sign your name, your seating order in the 3rd floor waiting room determines how quickly you will be seen.  We ended up as the 5th and 6th chairs (they are numbered, as is every single thing here in India).  During the half hour wait until the FRRO opened at 9:30, Julianne decided to have a little meltdown that her bottle, her pacifier, her swaddle, and snuggling could not cure.  I think that the lack of air conditioning was getting to her, but eventually she calmed down.  Henry slept the entire time in my Bjorn.

At 9:30, the officer at the reception desk started calling us in.  Each time a person was called, everyone was required to shift down to the next chair.  A few minutes later, we were before the officer.  He asked my intentions (to apply for exit permits) and reviewed all of the paperwork briefly before writing the number 5 on my top sheet and telling me to head to window 5.  By then, Mom and both babies had already gotten settled into the air conditioned interior waiting room and they were able to sit there quietly for the rest of the process.  I walked over to a desk that had a large 5 drawn on the wall, but no one was sitting there, so I asked at desk 4 if this was the correct location.  He told me that I must wait to be called to desk 5, so I returned to the waiting area with Mom.   One of the employees who would eventually complete my entire process saw me and asked if I was waiting for desk 5. Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 3.42.28 PM I replied ‘yes’ and she took me (strangely) to desk 15, where I sat next to her as she pulled up each of the online applications, checked every document, confirmed my status as a ‘single’ parent, looked at the babies to ensure that they matched their passport photos (Ha!), and explained that she would scan all of the documents during her afternoon session.  A small roach crawled across my foot and I jumped.  The FRRO takes customers from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM, followed by lunch hour, then the rest of the day is spent processing all of that day’s applications.   She had me buy two large folders from the small shop located directly behind her for 60 INR to hold all of the documents.  She also explained that the documents would be sent to Delhi MHA for approval and that I would pay for the exit permits once approval was granted.  The cost would be $80 US per baby, plus $30 per baby for my incorrect use of a tourist visa instead of a medical visa (that the Indian government refuses to grant ‘single’ parents effective 6 months ago despite my pregnancy already existing… bullshit).  Finally, she had me write my contact information in her notebook and she gave me her mobile number to check up on the process.  I left her a 1000 INR tip for her help (as I’ve heard that people have had much worse experiences here) and she seemed genuinely surprised.  That evening, around 7 pm, I received a call from her explaining that my applications had been scanned and fully submitted to the Delhi MHA.

It has now been a few days since Wednesday evening’s submission, and we are still waiting for the exit permits.  One of the required documents is a copy of your e-tickets for your departure flight, which is currently scheduled for Tuesday evening.  Since it is Sunday and the office is closed, I will be telephoning them again tomorrow morning to remind them that we need the permits by Monday evening.  I have tried a few times to contact the Delhi MHA and the Mumbal FRRO to get an update, but I am run in circles and constantly referred back to a phoneIMG_8887 number that had no information for me.  When I read other blogs that were able to get exit permits in 5 hours, it really frustrates me that Mumbai alone has decided to make it difficult for us to leave.  These babies are already US citizens and this step should just be a formality, but they are really dragging their feet with issuing our documents.  I will update once we hear back from the FRRO.

In the meanwhile, here are the documents required for your applications for an exit visa.

-US Consulate introduction letter

-Surrogacy agreement between the applicant surrogate mother & doctor treating the case.



-Doctor’s letter who has given treatment, which explains the embryo transfer and the date of birth.  This was delivered to us by the lawyer’s courier (see below).

-Discharge Letter from hospital where infant was born.  Our hospital’s front desk knew exactly what to write and had it for us in a few hours time.  It will be combined with a letter of ‘no dues’ or outstanding debt into one document, and you can point this out if the FRRO officer wants to get picky.

-Infant’s (Applicant) passport.

-Infant’s birth certificate issued by Indian authority.

-Parent’s passport and visa copy.

-Confirmed Air Ticket (Infant + parent’s)

-

Infant’s photo – 3 (with white background) – They only took 1 of the 3 and used a webcam to scan it into the online application, but bring 3 just in case.

-’No objection letter’ / No Dues affidavit from Surrogate mother.  The lawyer would have already obtained this document for you while you were waiting for the birth certificates.  Our surrogate returned to Rotunda where she signed the affidavit and it was notarized and brought to us at the hotel.



-”No dues are pending” letter from Clinic.  This letter was also brought to our hotel by the lawyer’s courier.

-Letter from the hotel you’re staying or last stayed.  Our concierge had experience with these documents and was able do draw one up that simply stated “Mr. Matthew _________ has been a guest at our hotel from x to y.” and it was printed on official letterhead and signed by the manager.

More to come…

-Matt

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