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Two fathers with their baby

James Washington, a 37-year-old lawyer originally from Norfolk, UK, was on the US Department of State website last Thursday trying to arrange a passport to take his newborn son, born via surrogate in the US, home to Amsterdam, when a message popped up. Due to coronavirus, the US authorities would only be issuing passports for life-or-death emergencies. Everyone else would have to wait.

As a result, Washington and his husband, Rob, 36, and their 11-day-old baby are stuck in an Airbnb in Portland, Oregon. Under normal circumstances, the Washingtons would have applied for a US passport for their son, taken him home and applied for a parental order through the British courts. (Both men are British citizens.)

But they cannot now get the US passport, and the British passport office will not issue emergency travel documents as UK law does not yet recognise their son as a British citizen. (Technically, his surrogate mother and her husband are his legal custodians.) “We are stuck,” said James.

The Washingtons are not the only parents to have utilised the US’s comparatively relaxed... see more