It had been a wonderful vacation. We’d left Utah and driven through Lake Tahoe to visit my best friend all through junior and senior high school. From there it was a hop, skip, and a jump to San Francisco. We were only there a day so didn’t hit many touristy places except Ghirardelli Square and the Maritime Museum where I fell in love with the tall ship Balclutha.
We caught Highway 1 and drove along the coast meaning to stay on it all the way to Port Angeles, Washington where we had reservations on a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how S-L-O-W Highway 1 would be with it’s two lanes! Somewhere near Portland, Oregon we got off and took the interstate up to Washington and made it just in time to catch the ferry the next morning.
Victoria was wonderful. We stayed at a quaint hotel outside the city, The Waddling Dog Inn. And yes, they really did have a waddling dog there. I believe it was a cocker spaniel at the time. We spent an entire day at the beautiful Butchart Gardens and the Royal British Museum. We debated having high tea at the Empress Hotel where the Queen stays when she visits, but decided we weren’t dressed for it!
Everything so far had been just great. Then it was time to catch the ferry back to Seattle. We were going to while away the day wending our way through the waters between the San Juan Islands. And that’s when the proverbial “crap” hit the fan. We were sitting in line waiting to board the ferry as the customs agents were coming through to check for passports and drivers license. Having anticipated this, I’d gotten Stef’s naturalization papers out of our safe deposit box. And right now that little green card we needed was hanging on the front of our fridge!
Stef was 16 at the time and had just gotten her license. But it was obvious to anyone that she was a different nationality than us. We explained that we had adopted her from India. That made the border guards suspicious despite the fact that she had her license. It was not uncommon, they explained, for folks to come to Canada to sneak illegals into the US. One of the men leaned through the window of the back seat and started firing off questions at her about her naturalization experience and ceremony. What did she study? Where was it held? TONS of questions. She looked like a deer in headlights!
In the front seat I was getting PANICKED, afraid that they weren’t going to let us take Stef back into the US. I tried to explain to the officer that she couldn’t answers his questions because she’d only been seven when we adopted her and hadn’t had to go through the naturalization process adults would. And the officer got p*ssed. Then Drollery was PANICKED, too. He grabbed my arm and told me to “shut up!” I think that’s the only time he’s ever said that to me!
They held us up for nearly an hour while someone inside their building was tracking down her documents on the internet. Fortunately for us, everything was in order, and we finally got the go ahead to board the ferry. But I have to say, there were a million nightmare scenarios that went through my head about them taking our daughter away from us. It gave me a healthy respect for what it must feel like for folks trying to immigrate to the US. Damn scary!!!