In the Name of Her Majesty

There didn’t seem to be any rush to get J his first passport. That was partly because I knew it was important to keep our lives simple during those early months with me, and avoid doing anything that might unsettle him, foreign travel included. I had also learned that it wasn’t entirely straightforward getting a passport issued for a child who was still officially ‘looked after’, and that it would certainly have to be issued in his birth name rather than in the name (mine) that he was now using. Once I had gone through the formal adoption process, we would apply for a passport for him.

In the end, it was three and a half years before J’s adoption was formalised in court (photos here).

Our first forays overseas were to the Isle of Wight …. No passport required! Then my aunt became ill, and it suddenly became very important that we had the freedom to travel whenever and wherever we wanted, as she lived in Paris. So, passport in his birth name it was.

J’s passport was issued in April 2006. He was the first ever First passportof his birth family to have one. We flew to Paris on 24th June and travelled back by way of the Eurotunnel with my parents two days later. It was genuinely thrilling to be with him as he experienced his first take-off, or blast off as he preferred to call it, his little hands gripping the plane armrests.

Our visit was tinged with sadness. It was the first and last time that J would meet Doreen, and we knew we were all there to say our goodbyes. But my aunt was just well enough for it to be a genuinely happy reunion.

That was the very first of my trips abroad with J. After that there was no stopping us. We visited Croatia a month later with my sister’s family, travelling the length of the country by plane, train, coach and ferry. In fact, we travelled overseas seven times with J’s first passport. I know because each time I had to carry a letter confirming that I had permission from Social Services to take J out of the country, and I’ve kept them all.

I am linking this post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out week #61 Permission letterwhich is on the theme of Freedom. And I am enjoying my freedom right now while J camps this weekend with the Woodcraft Folk…

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) all people are entitled to the recognition of inherent dignity and certain inalienable rights, which are the “foundations of freedom and justice in the world.” Freedom of movement is part of the “liberty of man” thus making it one of the most basic human rights. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.

The words printed inside our passports are still important:

Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

It is undeniably wonderful to have been able to exercise a fundamental human right with the assistance of not just Her Majesty, but Social Services too.

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4 comments

  1. Great, inspiring post. Hadn’t thought about passport issues. Decided we can’t afford to go abroad for a while but still good to know the issues. X

    1. Travelling was definitely more complex before the formal adoption went through, but then lots of things were! The odd thing was that I wasn’t once asked to show the letters we carried from Social Services. I was told that Passport Control would want to see them, but that didn’t happen. Wouldn’t have wanted to try travelling without them though…

  2. I love your travel stories. Strangely….or maybe not…When Jazz and I travelled together her anxiety and behaviour calmed down. As a consequence we did it a lot and those memories are really important to us. xx

    1. Thanks, Amanda! I do remember a couple of really big meltdowns in Croatia…. And I’m pretty unbearable in the last 24 hours before we leave too!! But yes, once we’re on the road, we both also seem to get into a very good space. Perhaps travelling demonstrates to the child in a very tangible way that you can keep them safe? And there’s a lot of one to one of course..

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