The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperating in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) aims to protect children and their families from trafficking, and illegal and ill-prepared adoptions.
We are traveling with a minor child with only one parent. To ensure the child is not being trafficked, stolen or otherwise being moved for illegal purposes we needed a certification by the non-accompanying parent that the child is being moved with their permission.
There is a form letter that the parent not traveling with the minor must sign stating they are aware and approve of the child’s travels. It must have a photo ID of that parent and the signature notarized. However, since the country cannot validate that the notarization was done by a duly authorized notary an Apostille Certification of the notary’s legal standing from the State of Origin’s Secretary of State. To ensure that the Notary is a duly authorized an embossed seal (not a stamp) is required of the Notary to place on the form. If the notary is registered in a County (not the State) you must first get a verification that the notary is duly registered in the County singed by the County Clerk of the Court again with the appropriate embossed seal. The final step is to take that notarized document, the Clerk of Count verification of the notary to the Maryland Secretary of State’s Office to get an Apostille Certification verifying that the Clerk of the Court is acting as an Agent of the State and the document was duly notarized. In effect that all of the signatures and seals along the process document the legitimacy of the permission from the parent not traveling with the minor.
In addition the relationship between the minor child and the parent traveling as well as the parent not traveling must be verified as well. Birth Certificates in Maryland are issued by the State Registrar of Vital Records. This document must also be accompanied by an Apostille that it was signed by an Agent of the State.
Are you with me so far?
We did all this over a month ago and had in our hands the Apostille Birth Certificate and Permission to Travel letter for our first cruise that was canceled. We had to redo the travel permission for the new cruise as the travel dates were now all different.
So, off Chuck went on Monday to get the form notarized. Off Katie went on Tuesday to the Frederick County Courthouse to verify the notary’s standing with the Clerk of the Court, then off to Annapolis to get the Apostille from the Secretary of State. This was now my third trip to Annapolis obtaining Apostilles, so I knew just how it worked and where to go and it was easy. Or so I thought.
When I arrived, the door was locked, and a small sign read: “Due to spreading COVID-19 concerns this office is closed and only accepting Apostille certification requests by mail”. We now only have a week and a few days including a Federal/State Holiday to get this done and mailing it and waiting for its return was never going to work.
Fortunately, there was a phone number at the bottom of that note. I called it and Katie called from home to beg for an exception and do this for us right away. They agreed since we had completed all of the steps up to the apostille meeting the requirements and it was not our fault that we now had such short notice! Thank you, Maryland Secretary of State’s Office, for helping us get this cruise, adventure, expedition back on track.
Did I mention the medical history form required for this expedition journey? That’s a story for another day as we are still making that happen…