Another visit to the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

The cover of a US Passport picked up at the US Embassy in KL I’m going to wrap up the story of having a baby in Penang with this final story.  To sum up, we’ve delivered a healthy baby boy.  We’ve gotten the Malaysian birth certificate processed and in hand.  We written to the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and pulled together all the forms and documents they asked for.  And we had a little adventure of trying to get a passport photo of the little tyke.  Now it’s time to get ourselves and the baby to KL and submit the paperwork.  (Of course, since we’re driving, we’ll stop at our favorite rest stop on the way)

Our appointment for the US Embassy was set for 1:30 in the afternoon.  We would not be able to wake up the children and get there in time, so we opted to get a hotel nearby.  We heard good things about the Rainforest Bed and Breakfast Hotel from 5 around the world.  So we booked it.  Our good friends Dave and Julie came along for the fun, and we’re grateful they did to help out with the older kids.

I will leave my review of Rainforest Bed and Breakfast hotel for another day.  It was not the most restful night of sleep, but then, the first night at a new place seldom is.  We woke up, had breakfast at the hotel and had the morning to fill before heading for the Embassy.

We decided to take the kids to KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center).  There’s the Petronas towers, the Suria mall, and the wonderful splash garden and playground.  I will save this for another review as well.  After a lunch at the mall, we drove the kids and Julie to the hotel for a nap, while the three of us with the appointment at the Embassy.

How to detect mental illness

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I just love driving in KL?”  If you have, please restrain that person and keep them from swallowing their tongue, because they are not in their right mind.

With the GPS directing us, the 2 km trip from KLCC to the hotel took 45 minutes.  I was stressed out because we got close to the 1:30 appointment time.

We ended up at the American Embassy gate at 1:35pm.  Checked our bags and phones at security and walked in with my folder of documents and the baby.

Afternoons at the US Embassy is much different than our last experience, renewing passports, where we walked in without an appointment in the morning.  Visa applicants crowd the waiting room, so that it spills into the overflow waiting room across the lobby. (Not judging.  I’d love for more Malaysians to see that America is more better than what they see on TV).

We were second in line behind a family with an adopted Malaysian baby.  It was not a long wait before we were seen.  All the papers were handed over.  And then we waited.  And waited.  Thankfully the baby slept a lot of the time.

We were called up a few times, once to check the spelling on something, another time to pay the fee.

And that’s when we ran into a snag.

Our photographs, the ones we struggled so hard to get, were rejected by “the computer.”  They have a software package that scans the photo and tests to see if it is digitally modified, or fits into their other criteria.  There was a shadow in the background that was messing with their automated system, causing our photo to be rejected.  They directed us to a mall nearby where there is a photo shop that will do passport photos quickly.

We had to hurry though, because it is now 4pm on a Friday and the staff will close up at 5.  So we do the 10 minute walk to the mall, and find a photo shop.  They put a white background on the floor, and asked us to put the baby on the background.  Then they took a few shots hovering over him.  They had the same struggle, getting both ears in the picture.  We were done, paid, and had the pictures in hand within 15 minutes.

We took a cab back to the US Embassy.  The staff had told us to give the photos to the guard, and not to bother going in.  We decided that our weekend would be ruined with uncertainty if we didn’t know if the photo was rejected.  So I left mother and child at the guard station, while I ran in and handed over the photos.

The second set of photos were rejected too.

In the end, we drove back to Penang, got more photos done, being careful of shadows in the background, and mailed them overnight post to the US Embassy.

Twelve days after I mailed the photos, we got an email saying the baby’s passport was ready.  One kid and I drove to KL.  We had an adventurous night staying at a backpacker hostel, nearby, and were at the US Embassy at 9:30 the next morning.  At 10:00 we were on our way home with the baby’s new Passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad.  His Social Security Card will be mailed to us within six months.