Slowly, I turned; and step by step…
One of my favourite people and Jakarta dwelling expats commented on my Facebook status that I ought to find a fat lady and make her sing. He was, of course, referring to a status announcement I had posted that brought my friends and followers up to date on my quest to extricate my son from this Southeast Asian black hole. I suppose that hearing me whine for the last three years about the process has even affected the patience of those who casually read my bitching and are astonished at the bureaucratic impediments that the fertile imagination of mendacious civil servants are able to erect in order to require bribes to remove.
The fat lady ain’t sung yet, but I believe I see her in the wings preparing for her entrance.
As I write this, my long-suffering Yolanda is in South Jakarta sitting in the sweltering open-air waiting area of an RW (or maybe RT…there are two levels and I have no idea which is which), nearly the lowest ranked civil servant in the country. It is now 7.10pm and she has been waiting since 6.30am, the time of her appointment. She is waiting to pay him and then thank him for accepting the bribe that was negotiated over the phone yesterday, when he finally feels that his importance has been sufficiently established.
These parasites are what are known as “neighbourhood chiefs” and do absolutely fuck all except for apply their rubber stamp to any document you present them along with a bribe. They are elected by the neighbourhood in a biannual popularity contest and they invariably complete their tenure as relatively wealthy men. Their imprimatur is required on certain documents; documents that assure higher authorities that you live in the neighbourhood, that you are not a problem in the neighbourhood, and that you are known in the neighbourhood and to the “chief” personally. Long-stay permits require this, police permits, press passes, pretty much everything requires a stamped document from one of these worthless pricks. They do nothing without a bribe.
I have dozens of these documents stamped by dozens of these tumorous pustules – for press passes and all kinds of other documents. On each is the personal seal and sworn statement of a person I met only once….to pay a bribe…that he knows me personally (bullshit) and that I live in his jurisdiction (also bullshit, of course) and that I have never been a problem (true as far as it goes).
Yolanda is going through this charade because we need a court date and we’ve been informed by the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction where we actually live that there are no available dates in the foreseeable future. We need this court date because the last judge we spoke to decided that a separate hearing was required to approve the change of my son’s name to his new family’s name (mine and Yolanda’s) despite his having taken the bribe to hear the motion to adopt and then granting that motion. The supplementary name change motion hadn’t been paid for, so it wasn’t granted along with the adoption as is the usual procedure.
The statement that there are no court dates available is, of course, a lie… an initial bargaining position for the negotiations over the required “administration fee” to set a date to hear the motion to change JJ’s name (from the Indonesian equivalent of John Doe) to ours. But since the initial position started at “no dates available”, long, painful experience tells us that the required bribe will be astronomical.
So we found a South Jakarta jurisdiction that will hear the motion in our lifetimes; all we need is a dozen documents, one of which requires the stamp and signature of a South Jakarta neighbourhood chief.
All this is being done so we can present the Canadian government (or is it “The Harper Government?) with proof of JJ’s right to citizenship as the legal child of a Canadian citizen. They will then look at the documentation after we have had it written up by the court then translated by a sworn translator, notarised and sent along with a half dozen other forms to someplace in Nova Scotia. Within weeks, I am assured, Part 1 will be completed and the file sent to Singapore. Then the Canadian Embassy in Singapore will require an interview, so either I, Yolanda, JJ, or all, or two of us will fly to Singapore, do our best to persuade some hostile local hire that JJ isn’t a terrorist and that we have genuine plans to keep our son. If he is convinced that these last three years haven’t been an elaborate con, we go back to Jakarta and he will forward the necessary document to our Indonesian consul. Then, with citizenship papers in hand, we apply at the Canadian Embassy for a passport for JJ. That will take a few weeks to process in Ottawa, but eventually he should get one.
If everything goes well…the bribes, the translations, the name change, Part1 of the citizenship application, Part 2 of the citizenship application, the passport application and all the unforeseen, we will fly back to Canada so my now 3 and ½ year old son can start his life. Best case scenario…2 months. Worst case scenario… indefinite waiting and expenses. And there is no way everything will go smoothly. There is a fan; there is shit. Without question, the two shall have a close encounter before this is all over. We shall see.
Meanwhile we wait. And wait. Of course there are worse places to wait. Not much, but worse.