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

10 Responses to “FRRO part 2”

  1. annie21livinginusa June 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    First, Welcome Home and glad that you are all back safely and getting into a routine etc…..interesting post and just happy everything worked out right in the end and you were able to get back to the USA….babies are sure growing in size and love the onesies with the elephants….

  2. sandraberrigan4@gmail.com June 10, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    The twins already look like they are 6 months old@! JUST BEAUTIFUL

  3. 2sdguys June 10, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Thanks for telling us about your experience. It looks like the FRRO process for granting exit visas is very random, and you had to be extremely pro-active to get them. I am happy that this bad experience is behind you. It is in front of us and we hope that we will be able to benefit from all the information you gave us. Thanks!

  4. pufferandthebabyfish June 10, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Just learned about your blog via Double Trouble Bangkok.
    Thrilled to hear about 2 new gay dads in our very own NYC. Welcome to parenthood. This is an incredible city to raise children. Sounds like India is/was a bit of a nightmare. So sorry you had to go through all of that but very happy for you and your beautiful twins.
    Congrats!

  5. L June 10, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    Thank you. For telling your story in such detail. For adding two wonderful beautiful babies to our world. For being two loving caring fabulous daddies.

  6. Maurine June 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Happy Fathers Day to you Both!

  7. Barbara June 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Wishing you both a very happy Father’s Day. I have really enjoyed reading your story. As an adopted child and also an adoptive mom to three children (in state adoptions thank God!) it is heartening to know that more children are being loved instead of having to live their formative lives in orphanages or foster care. Wishing you all the love and happiness in the world in your new adventure as a family. Buckle up gentleman…it is going to be a bumpy ride but well worth it!

  8. Phyllis Moroney June 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    So proud of you, lucky babies to have loving devoted Daddies. Enjoy, this is a life time of joy.

  9. Alyssa Brown June 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Wishing you both a very happy first Father’s Day. I’ve been reading your blog and it is so inspiring. Looking forward to your next update and more photos of the beautiful twins!

  10. Angela June 19, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Congratulations on the safe arrival home of your beautiful twins. I am a mummy of twins in Australia and they are the most wonderful girls in the world. I found your blog whilst looking at HCG levels as I am currently pregnant and we are really hoping that we will be lucky enough to have twins again. You are such an inspiring couple and it is so wonderful to read that you are able to become parents. I will continue to read your blog and watch your babies grow. Enjoy your babies, there will be moments when you feel hopeless but it just gets better and better (if you can believe it gets any better!!). Have fun.

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