(NOTE: This post is the first in a series of posts regarding our upcoming vision trip to Europe, ahead of our planned move there within the next year.)
Recently, our family took a giant step toward being ready to move overseas—we got passports for everyone! We printed and filled out what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of application paperwork (complete with five notarized affidavits stating that I was aware that Miranda was getting passports for our children). Miranda loaded everyone up for a two-stage field trip: first to CVS for five sets of passport photos, and next to our friendly local US Post Office to drop off the application in person.
I have since discovered that it’s quite bizarre to look down at an official US federal government identification document and to see the face of your three-year-old son impishly smiling back at you. It feels unnatural, irregular, at first, for my children to have their own passports. When I was the age Phoenix is now, I didn’t even know that passports existed. The first time I really understood about what it meant to have a passport was when my own father was required to get one for a nine-month work project in India in the mid-90s.
That year, the US State Department issued slightly more than 3 million passports, and there were almost 18 million valid passports in circulation. In other words, the first time I ever saw a passport, only 7 percent of the US population even had one, and it’s likely that a far smaller percentage of those passport holders were children.
Common wisdom would have us believe that this is still the case, but that isn’t true. Last year alone, there were 13.5 million passports or passport cards issued in this country, and there were more than 117 million valid passports in circulation. In other words, my children are part of a growing trend within our own country, where more than 37 percent of people have valid passports—a five-fold increase in just over two decades. And, according to a very scientific poll I recently conducted, more and more families are ensuring that their children have passports as well.
I remember when I got my first passport, as a young, pony-tailed college sophomore. I was going to Mexico on a mission trip and thought it would be easier to navigate the border if I had one. I’ve since had the privilege of traveling extensively, to more than 20 countries on all six permanently-inhabited continents—and I’m now on my third passport.
And yet, despite all my previous travels, I continue to marvel at what is embodied within that small folio of paper and ink. When you have a passport, you can go places. I mean, really go places. There’s potential in those pages. Preparedness. Possibilities.
And that’s what the Peacock family has now—possibilities. Wherever God takes us over the next five years (that’s how long US passports last for kids), we’re prepared. If He takes us to Germany, that’s possible. If He takes us elsewhere, that’s possible now, too. Wherever he He takes us, we can get there now. We’re Peacocks on the loose.