The mother of a “miracle baby” says dreams of uniting the child with his grandmother for the first time could be shattered in a matter of days due to a months-long delay in the issuance of his Irish passport.
Lynn Yin, 40, has accused the Passport Office of investigating Cillian, born prematurely, as an “international criminal”, and faces losing thousands of euros, as he applied for his passport three months before his scheduled departure date.
“We keep getting the line that it’s a passport for the first time so we need rigorous checks,” he tells The Irish Times.
“I fully appreciate it, but Cillian is a 15-month-old baby right now. I’m not sure what kind of international criminal record we’re looking for here. She still she can neither walk nor speak”.
Yin and her partner, John Ruddy, 40, of Dublin, say they applied for Cillian’s passport on May 16, a week after doctors cleared Cillian to fly.
The child suffers from chronic lung disease as a result of being born 14 weeks premature. Immediately after his birth, it was unclear if Cillian would survive.
Throughout their ordeal, during which Cillian was in intensive care for months, they kept in touch with Ruddy’s mother, Moira, who is from Newry but now lives in France, by phone and video calls.
Actually, it still says in the application tracker that the passport was due to be issued on July 7th. Is incredible
“Cillian is our first and only baby. He is an IVF baby. He is a miracle baby,” says Yin. “John and I have been together since college and are now both in our 40s. With all the complications during pregnancy, it has been an incredible year.
“Her grandmother is unable to reach us for health reasons, so as soon as Cillian was cleared to fly, we applied for her Irish passport. I can’t describe how much this means to her grandmother. She is so desperate to meet him, and John is so desperate for him to meet her.”
The family of three was due to fly from their home in Manchester to France on August 17.
Yin says they have followed all the guidelines when applying for a passport online and were told in May that the normal processing time was 25 days. The passport office had not requested any more documents or information, she adds.
“In fact, it still says in the application tracker that the passport was due to be issued on July 7. Is incredible. When we started contacting the passport office, saying ‘We are concerned about this’, they were very helpful and provided as much information as possible.
“Over the last few weeks, as it has become more urgent, responses from the passport office have been monosyllabic. We can’t get any information other than what’s in a queue.”
Yin says the anticipation of finally uniting grandma and grandson has been “the highlight of our existence and hers for the past three months.”
“I can’t believe now that it doesn’t happen. The passport office said delivery to the UK takes up to five working days once the passport is issued. So we’re looking at a situation where if it doesn’t air tomorrow, it really will.
“I called them this morning and they said, ‘We can’t tell you anything, I’m sorry, it was due to an unavoidable delay in [the passport office end]’.”
Between booked non-refundable accommodation, car hire, flights and baggage costs, “in total, we’re looking at losing £4,000,” says Yin.
“But this wasn’t just a party. If it was just a holiday and we had to take the loss, fine. If it was our fault and we delayed it, or didn’t turn in our application on time, that’s okay. But we made the application in mid-May with a 25-day guideline to process it.
“The passport office’s attitude to this whole thing just added insult to injury. I can’t understand why people are being so unhelpful.”
At that time we didn’t know for months if our baby would live. John’s mother saw all of this and now she is so desperate to meet her grandson.
Ruddy, an Irish passport holder, from Skerries, North County Dublin, and Yin, who is of Chinese origin and holds a British passport, never considered applying for a British passport for Cillian because they want her to “identify as Irish”.
“John is working full time, and when he has free time, he tries to keep track of these issues,” says Yin.
“He is enormously stressed. It’s his mother we’re going to see. Basically, he is desperate to introduce his baby to his mother. It’s so hard to describe the anticipation of what we’ve been through.
“Nobody thought we could have a baby, and when IVF was successful there were incredible celebrations. When Cillian was born at 26 weeks, it was a question of: will she make it?
“I can sound pretty nonchalant about it now because of all the trauma counseling that went into it, but at the time we didn’t know for months if our baby would live. John’s mother saw all of that and now she is so desperate to meet her grandson.”
Response of the Passport Service
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Passport Service could not comment on individual applications, but that “first-time online applications take longer to process, due to necessary security checks.”
“These are currently taking 25 business days. This processing time has been reduced by 40 percent since March, when it was 40 business days,” a spokeswoman said.
“Turnaround times apply to completing and correcting passport applications and start from the date the supporting documents are received by the Passport Service, not the date of online registration. Applications that are incomplete and require more supporting documents will take more time.”
“Currently there are 130,000 applications in the system. Although there is a high volume … this does not represent a delay, ”said the spokeswoman.
“All these applications are processed in the usual way, with a continuous flow of new applications and a continuous shipment of completed passports every day. The Passport Service issued 20,000 passports last week and nearly 800,000 passports have been issued so far this year.
“The Passport Service is producing a record number of passports, exceeding the previous busiest year (2019) by nearly 20 percent.”