Do the Right Thing

By: John Jericiau

I’m writing this as our driver is careening through the Costa Rican countryside on the way to our beach destination. We were picked up at the airport two hours ago, and except for a stop at a river overpass to spy on a dozen or so crocodiles bathing in the murky water, we’ve been moving right along. Today is my husband’s 40th birthday, and we’ve planned a mega-vacation to celebrate. Plus we thought we’d get in a good trip before Baby # 3 enters our world in just 21 weeks. We were hoping that one thing we might do on this trip is pick out either a boy or girl name for Baby # 3, but the ultrasound this past week was out of focus. Actually, it was the doctor that was not focused … he was a substitute doctor that showed so little interest in our baby’s anatomy that I don’t think he would have noticed genitals if they slapped him in the face.

Anyway, we’re happy to be close to our first of three destinations in Costa Rica. Our five- and four-year-old boys had less than stellar performances today, but who can blame them? I myself wanted to kick and scream by the time we got to our layover (in El Salvador), as I was dragging from being up since 4:11 am to finish packing. I had estimated that I was 98% packed by the night before our trip, but that last 2% is always the toughest. Just a few more socks, and a few more snacks, and did I remember a razor? Inevitably I find myself vacationing with two razors and too many socks.

It seems like days ago (it was this morning) that we taxied to LAX, flew through the line at TACA Airlines, and were stopped dead in our tracks by a gate agent who, after looking at our four passports, and then us, and then the passports again, requested the “permission letter from the mother of these children” in order to complete our check-in. Hmmm.

“We’re both the fathers” I said with a smile, and I could sense the hairs on the back of the birthday boy’s neck rising. Those hairs were fully erect and standing on end when the agent came back with “Well, do you have a copy of their birth certificates proving that?”

I immediately fell to my knees and began to search my backpack, more than a little distracted as I wondered if this was normal procedure for everyone. Certainly there have to be thousands of single parents, or at least one parent travelling alone, who travel with their kids. Do all these parents run into this same roadblock? Or is it just the fact that we are two men, and our boys couldn’t look more different from each other? After about a minute my husband, who assumed I was just faking the search for something I did not have, bent over and whispered through his teeth “We should just rush home and get the proof while we still have time.”

Almost simultaneously I found the copies that I had stored in the zippered part of my backpack the night before, and presented them to the relieved-but-still-puzzled-looking agent, who sent us on our way with boarding passes in hand.

My husband gave me the “good job” thumbs up for having the presence of mind to copy birth certificates, and I silently thanked my friend for giving me the idea.

Doing something right is always a good way to start a vacation.


  1. says

    Have fun. SO exciting. I think traveling to any foreign country with what is assumed one parent needs a notarized copy allowing the children to travel. Especially in divorce cases. So it might have been procedure but it still is frightening. Eventually I am sure everything will be made more clear when it is two dads or two Moms and foreign travel is involved. I have heard that Costa Rica is the go to place these days. Can’t wait to see all your photos. The alligators would do me in. Wonder if they try and grab a meal from those animals on the shore.You are the nest boy scout around John as you usually are so prepared.

  2. Jim Schnobrich says

    Annoying isn’t it? We have traveled the world and yes I carry the birth certificates and the adoption papers with me always. It’s funny how Europe is never a problem. My one time I had a problem was going into Canada. It’s the one time I did NOT take the papers with me. We were in customs for about 45 minutes and they were not very nice. The kids were small and they took each child alone and asked them a lot of questions about who their parents wee and if they knew their mom. It was scary for them and insulting to us. I was surprised that of all places Canada would be the hard asses!

  3. Your Sister says

    Congrats on being prepared! And that experience is scary, rude, and sad. But one small step for man kind. And one giant step for man to be kinder. Love you!

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