Saturday, April 14, 2012

USCIS rocks!!!

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is awesome. We didn't get their letter with an appointment for fingerprinting, but instead of "oh well" an officer called us and made sure we could get this paperwork expedited. (Dr. van Bosse in Philly had written a letter to help us speed up this process and they had not only read it, but wanted to help!)

The officer asked why I had missed our appointment if this adoption was special needs and a medical case and all that. What letter? I thought this phone call was going to tell us our appointment date, not that we'd missed it! What to do? I immediately got off the phone and burst into tears... for a long time.

It's hard for me to be on top of everything going on around here. Laelia's IEP is coming up. My husband is just finally getting his brain back (he had surgey and the pain meds make it hard to concentrate so I've been solo on a lot of this stuff) plus there are still a few things Charley can't do physically that I have to do for him until April 17th when he's recovered, plus I have a job (part time) and a house to keep up and all that. It was just getting overwhelming. Charley's job is to sort through our mail, but it's just one more thing that he was doing the best he could but he wasn't at 100%. We also have a friend staying with us who was bringing in our mail for him, but since Charley wasn't doing it he forgot she did it and then it sat in an untouched pile. Along with many other responsibilities this was one I should have taken over for Charley but just didn't think to. I found the two unopened immigration fingerprinting appointment letters under two unopened birthday cards.

Our officer suggested we just show up without an appointment. So the very next morning we showed up at the immigration office after dropping Laelia off at school. Oh and I was sick with what turned out to be a tummy bug. So it was not fun. Charley and I could have combined our physical and mental abilities that morning and still made less than one fully functioning person.

Now you *need* an appointment to even go into the building, and the letters we had in our hands were for four days ago, but everyone was completely understanding. The front desk guy (who weeds out people who don't have appointments, etc.) was super nice. The wait was surprisingly short. The lady who did my fingerprints said she even saw a special on TV about the kind of foreign special needs adoption we're doing and then she told me God would help us. And he certainly was!

The next day after fingerprinting our officer called back to say she got our results that she went out of her way to be watching for and we were going to be approved with immigration! (This usually takes a few days or longer for the results to even get back to her office, but she was waiting for our results and moved quickly.)

We just got our letters with appointment dates today for fingerprinting on April 24th. I laughed because we're already done and approved and don't have to wait the extra two weeks!

This puts us about three weeks away from being completely done with our approvals and paperwork and apostilles and all that. (Three weeks away from Step #15 in the adoption process.) There was some kerfuffle with our state police clearances so that's probably the thing that will make this process take the three weeks. But I see a light at the end of the paperwork pregnancy.

USCIS is awesome.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adoption updateness

We're still waiting on immigration (the US side of things) and a federal fingerprinting appointments that should be ready in a week or so (hurry up!!!), but we've compiled half our dossier and had it apostilled!

Every single document so far in this process except for one or two (no joke) has had to be redone or re-notarized including our freaking home study. It has been frustrating. Once we get a form back, we notarize it and scan it and email it to our adoption team. Then after it's approved we need to get it apostilled by the state. So I got a sitter to watch my husband who just had surgery a couple weeks ago and my daughter and then took off for LA to get my 19 documents apostilled last Friday. The trip took a total of 8 hours. According to Google maps it *should* have taken two hours one way. TRAFFIC WAS TERRIBLE!!! Highway 101 should be renamed Parking Lot 101. But on the plus side I found a wonderful brown rice and tofu bowl place that also served blueberry banana smoothies. Worth it.

Once apostilled I then scanned them all and sent them to my adoption team again. Thankfully only one of my apostilled documents has to get redone. To apostille something just means that after it's perfect and notarized then I have to get the state of California to stamp it and confirm the notary. I practically cried to the state employee, read her a list of common apostille mistakes (I'm sure she loved me) and then told her how important this was. Poor woman. 

So we're going to send off half the documents to U (my son's birth country) and then send the rest when all the people we're waiting on get around to getting back to us. I'd say we're about a month away from being done with it all before waiting for travel dates. It seems to be taking 6-8 weeks lately for people who are totally submitted to get travel dates so now our new timeline is being done with paperwork by Mother's Day and traveling this summer, hopefully in late June or early July. Everything subject to change. As always.

I'm so sick of being paper pregnant and ready to hold this baby boy! Thanks to a wonderful friend (thanks Samantha!) we have a lot of boy clothes and a bouncy seat and a couple of small car seat bases and hopefully soon a crib! I LOVE LOVE LOVE hand-me-downs! Thanks to another friend (thanks Barbara!) we have a great bottle for feeding Roland and access to baby food if he's past the bottle stage. My daughter is talking non stop about her brother nowadays since she was told that after daddy's surgery we'd be gearing up to see him. Little did we know a few things would go wrong in our paperwork game so that we'd still be collecting stuff at this late date. (State police clearances are our fault, but there are a bunch of other things that are just plain not our fault and we just have to wait.) But we're ready and working hard. Almost there.

Want baby. Now.