The kids and I arrived in London from Mexico last week and were stopped at immigration with what has become a common question. “What is your relationship to these children?”. I never changed my name when we got married and so the kids and I share different surnames. When the children were born we gave each of them my maiden name as one of their middle names, which does help, but we do still end up holding up the queue when we pass through border control.
The Times reported the other week that children’s passports are causing delays at border control, as parents with different surnames from their children have to prove that they are the legal guardians. This time, I was actually armed with a wad of documents proving my relationship but that was more owing to Mexican bureaucracy that doesn’t permit me to travel solo with my kids without my husband’s permission. Given that it’s becoming increasingly common for kids to have a different surname to their mother, what is the answer? According to the article in The Times, a parental passport campaign is advocating listing the names of the parents or legal guardians in the passports of children under 18. I, for one, think this could definitely help. The Home Office, however has said that it will not be making any changes to the system. Their spokesperson says, "In order to protect children and detect possible cases of trafficking, Border Force officers may ask adults travelling with children about their relationship with the child."
What are your thoughts? Is it time the system changed or is questionning the parent (and, if necessary, the child) the only way child trafficking can be identified?
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