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:
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.
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 sleeping 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 power 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.”
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.
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 and I have a good friend who happens to also be an egg donor. We asked if she might write a little something for New Dads, to share a bit of an egg donor’s perspective, and she very kindly obliged. Enjoy!
My name is Melodye, and I am an egg donor. (“Hi, Melodye.”) I also happen to be friends with Matt and Josh, and they asked if I would be interested in writing an entry from the egg donor’s point of view. Here I am, happily obliging.
My first experience donating (yep, I’ve donated more than once) stemmed from wanting to backpack through Europe. I brainstormed on how to make a decent sum of money to pay for this bucket list item, and upon discovering that donating eggs would earn me $8,000, I decided to go for it.
Although I didn’t know anyone who had done it (or anyone whose brain I could pick on the subject), I did extensive research online about the process and which service to use. NYU, Columbia and Cornell were my top choices, so I decided to apply with all three.
After having a couple appointments with Columbia, for some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable. I felt like a number there, so decided to retract my application. With NYU, I had a blood work appointment on my third visit (still during the application process—I hadn’t been matched with a recipient yet, but more on that later). There was a major storm, so I couldn’t make it. Even though I called to reschedule, they deemed me unreliable and declined my application.
Cornell was a welcome contrast to both of these experiences. From the first day I arrived, they were kind, compassionate, and made me feel that I was just as much a part of this process as the recipient.
The first step when applying is filling out extensive paperwork. This includes a full health history for myself and all family members—mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents (some of which can be very difficult to track down!).
Then there is a personality/psychological exam. There are hundreds of true/false questions to be answered. Some of the questions include: “I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting,” “No one seems to understand me,” “I like mechanics magazines,” “I have a good appetite,” “I wake up fresh & rested most mornings,” “I think I would like the work of a librarian,” “I like to read newspaper articles on crime,” “My hands and feet are usually warm enough,” “I have never been in trouble because of my sex behavior,” “A minister can cure disease by praying and putting his hand on your head,” “I am liked by most people who know me.”
After 567 of these, your brain starts to swim a bit.
While they interpret the results, they take you through a series of blood tests to see if you are a carrier for certain genetic diseases. Lastly, potential donors speak with a psychiatrist about why they’re interested in being a donor. The psychiatrist also asks hypothetical questions about the future (i.e., “What would you do if the child wanted to contact you when they turned 18?”). If after all of this they deem you a suitable donor candidate, they walk you through what you can expect as a donor.
Once officially on the donor list with Cornell (and let me reiterate how wonderful it was to work with them), potential recipients can learn all about you. They never know your name or see your handwriting, nor do they see a picture (they will know your physical traits, however). If you want, you can also submit a photo of yourself as a child (totally optional; I opted “yes”).
At that point, it’s a waiting game to see who wants you. I assumed they were picking someone based on the physical and personality qualities the potential parent possessed (who was unable to genetically participate) and wanted in their offspring.
They warned that it could take weeks or months to get matched with a family. But then, by the following week, I had a match.
On Friday, Matt and I saw that New Dads hit the 10,000 viewer mark.
Since we started the blog in June 2012, about six months ago, we’ve had readers from 93 countries click over to New Dads. (Check out the map above. So crazy!)
Matt and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all your great comments, and for reading and visiting. We’re glad to have you along on this journey as we start our family.
Here’s to the next 10,000!
–Josh & Matt
For a list of countries where New Dads has been read (in order of most views), feel free to click through….
Just a quick note to let our readers know that we are doing just fine after a rough couple of days in Queens, NY. We never lost power, but we have been hunkered down in our apartment with lots of ramen and wine. The storm has passed and we went out to check out the damage. Lots of trees down, power lines are down or significantly lowered, and it looks like we may not have any subway access until next week.
Thanks to our friends for the texts and calls! We will keep you posted if anything changes.
In the East, Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, and is traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture. Ganesh Chaturthi is an annual celebration that marks the rebirth of Ganesh, and this year, it fell on September 19th, the day that our embryos were created using my sperm and a donor egg in Mumbai. Coincidence? I have a very good feeling about this….