In the last months of my last pregnancy, I called up our parish to try and schedule the baptism. We had a tricksy time frame with godparents graduating from college and only having a few days of time overlap to be in the area, so I wanted to get in good and early. Baby was due in March, and we needed the baptism in May. The parish secretary said, "Oh no, we don't even have any classes available until June." No class, no baptism.
So I spoke with a priest who'd just been moved from our parish to a parish about 20 miles away, and he scheduled the baptism right then, over the phone, for the day we needed. We didn't have to take the baptism class, and I made sure I got the paperwork he needed to the office in good time.
Now it's time to schedule another baptism. As before, I'm starting before baby is born because it's very important to us to have the baptism as soon as possible. I'd like to do things the right way because Darwin is on parish council and it seems important to set an example, and yet I'm running into the same hassles. Seeing as once again both my godparents are coming in from out of state, it's important to me to be able to set a date as soon as possible, but one can't schedule the baptism until one's taken the class, which one can't even sign up for without the proper paperwork from the godparents, who need to know the baptism date so that they can take time off work and buy plane tickets... And then there's the issue of requiring a birth certificate, which, as I hope to have the baby baptized two weeks after the class (which we can't take until next month, four days before baby is due), is simply not going to be possible.
I appreciate the need to ensure that parents and godparents take their responsibilities seriously, and I can understand that our priest doesn't want to be granting exceptions left and right, but the laid-back time frame on which the parish seems to operate seems to de-emphasize the vital importance of baptism to a child's soul. I don't want to wait a year or six months or three months -- I want my child baptized right away. Even in these technologically advanced times, children can die unexpectedly. I'm not willing to take the chance of pushing out baptism until some parish bureaucrat has ticked off every last box on the checklist. For now I'm going to try and work with the system, but if takes pulling a few strings to ensure that my child's soul is cleansed of original sin as quickly as possible, then so be it.
UPDATE: You guys have some crazy stories in the comments, but I defy you to top Opinionated Homeschooler's anecdote:
But my friend got it worse from our parish. Her godparents, like all of her family, were Cuban refugees. They had no sacramental records, as Castro wasn't going to fax them over. The parish flat refused to allow them to stand as godparents. She is outraged to this day.