In October 2020 I (a US citizen born in Italy) discovered I was pregnant. It was not planned, in fact I believed it was something that would never happen to me and it came as a surprise that my pandemic summer fling in the country that I live in, Kenya, would produce this
The dad, a Kenyan, and I were close but had no plans for long term romantic entanglements. When he discovered I was carrying his child, he expressed a desire to be by my side during the pregnancy and that we would take it from there.
I gave birth in the US because it was the only way I could pass my own citizenship to the child. It being the pandemic, tourist visas were impossible to come by and so I did this part of the journey alone.
As a result the dad was not added to the birth certificate, something we were under the impression we could correct at the US embassy in Nairobi. A wrong assumption, as it turned out.
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By the time the baby was turning one, our hearts had shifted. Despite differences in age and background, we both felt secure in our love and wanted to forge ahead as a family. We decided to put off getting married until after the dad had met my family. Another wrong decision
Back in October, my mother had an idea: given how hard it appeared to be to get visas post pandemic, why didn’t we all go to Antigua for Christmas?
Antigua, like many Caribbean countries, does not require visas for Kenyans. But with a catch: in order to get the fastest flight to Antigua (we’re talking in the range of 27 hours minimum here) you have to fly through a country which requires you to have a visa to transit.
Thus follows another misguided and failed plan of ours to spend a week in the UK (a country I spent over a decade of my life in) because it seemed like a good way to break up an impossibly long trip which is fine for an adult but torture for a baby.
The UK denied daddy a visa at the last possible moment. I won’t get into the unfairness of that, at least in this case the petty person wielding authority over people’s lives was actually a visa officer of sorts.
There we were, a week from Christmas, facing the real threat of having our family holiday ruined. But then: hope! Amsterdam does not require you to have a transit visa and turns out they fly straight to Barbados from whence it is possible to take a direct flight to Antigua.
HURRAY! Holiday saved! Baby and I would keep our own travel plans and daddy would join a few days later via this new very long but still viable route.
It was not to be. At 11pm on Christmas Eve a man at check-in ascertained that daddy couldn’t demonstrate he was related to me or baby and that as a result he would deny him boarding because he couldn’t prove he didn’t plan to claim asylum.
The fact the baby carries his dad’s surname on passport and birth certificate and hundreds of pictures of our love story to date, did not suffice as proof we are a family.
Nope, we don’t like you (and your dreadlocks I’m sure of it) and we’re not going to let you have your well earned vacation. Meanwhile 24 members of my family have all flown to Antigua to meet my man for this Christmas engagement celebration of sorts.