Friday, September 03, 2004

The End (of the Paperchase) is Near - 9/3/2004

2 Certified birth certificates, one for each of us: check
1 Certified marriage license: check
1 Notarized copy of a homestudy by a licensed CA Social Worker: check
1 Signed petition to adopt a child(ren) from the Peoples Republic of China: check
1 Signed financial statement: check
2 Medical forms certifying our good health, signed by a licensed MD: check
1 Signed letter from our credit union verifying we have the money for the adoption: check
2 Certified clearance letters from the County Sheriff, one for each: check
2 Letters from our employers stating what we do & how much we make: check
1 Certified copy of Jeff's divorce papers from psycho hose-beast ex-wife: check
8 Passport pictures, 2 sets of 2 each: check
9 Photographs of us as a couple: check
2 Copies of the first 2 pages of our passports, 1 each: check

This small pile of paper has taken six months and several thousand dollors to amass. This morning I carefully slipped it into a large manilla envelope with our names neatly written on the front in large bold sharpie. Then it, and I, waded through the sea of insane California drivers whom all insisted on driving the speed limit when it wasn't necessary (the cops had already nabbed holiday weekend drivers and were cheerfully writing them tickets by the time we went whizzing past).
I arrived in downtown LA at the Federal Building, cleared security (cell phone on the table, purse in the x-ray, you through the metal detctor), and headed to the second floor - room 2050 - the land of Criminals, Cops & Illegals (see post on 7/01/04). This time when I arrived, there was no armed guard, no parollees...nobody. You could hear the crickets chirp. So I signed in at window 10 and took a seat. A few minutes later an illegal Mexican woman (in CA? What a shock) and her pushy 9 year old son/translator arrived hollering for someone to come assist them. A moment later, an officious black woman, her attitude proceeding her, came out and distainfully said, "Can I help you?" then she glanced over and saw me, held up her hand in front of the translator and said, "Wait. Can I help you?" not quite so distainfully. I replied that I had already signed in at window 10. She told me someone would be with me shortly, and a split second later the nice girl we talked to 9 weeks ago appeared. She checked my name, asked to see my ID, and then handed me an envelope that was taped to the desk; "There you go. Thank you." and she walked away.
Inside was the last piece of paper: Form 171-H Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application For Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This one piece of paper that says the United States of America has decided we are fit to be parents, and has forwarded a request for a visa for our child to the National Visa Center in Guangzhou, China.
I will admit to being nervous as I drove to Monterey Park. What if we had missed something? What if they had scooted up the Sept. cutoff because of the holiday weekend and we missed it?
It was quiet at USAA when I arrived. Yasmine, who answers the phone & handles the travel arrangments for the parents, informed me that Tracy was at lunch but due back in 10-15 minutes and I was welcome to wait. I waited. Tracy returned and began sifting through the contents of the envelope and rearranging documents. She gave me back Jeff's divorce papers- they aren't needed. The forms we were given for our physical exams were the old ones, and we need to have the new ones filled out with the same information. Jeff's employment letter had to be re-done because it did not state his position. Other than that, we were good! We made the September cutoff, so our Dossier will go to China (DTC) in October!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A Red Letter Day - 9/1/2004

Color me stunned. A United States government employee actually called me back!!!! I was so shocked I could hardly speak.
The uniteligable voice on the voice mail I left the message on turned out to belong to Juanita, the nice lady mentioned in the paperwork from our adoption agency. I explained to Juanita that we had been waiting for 9 weeks. She wanted to know if our fingerprints had been done. I assured her that they had been done the same day. She asked for my last name and put me on hold so she could go find the paperwork. Ordinarily, you might be expecting that I was typing this while I was on hold (still- 6 hours later), but miraculously she (the same woman!) came back on the phone not 5 minutes later! Juanita was actally very helpful, and able to tell us that the FBI was where the delay was, and that she could have it done by next week. I guess the disappointment came through in my voice when I told her that that was ok, because we would have missed the Sept. deadline with our facilitators by then, so not to rush. There was a short pause, and then she said, "Well, I could expedite it for you... you could come down & pick it up Friday...would that be ok?" Ok? Fabulous!
Tonight will now be very busy: we need to make last minute adjustments to our financial statement, select and print nine pictures, and review all our documents so that as soon as I have the 171 I can drive the whole package to USAA in Montery Park!

A Bead of Sweat Upon Our Brows - 9/1/2004

So! As of tomorrow, Thursday September 2, it will have been nine weeks since we filed our paperwork with the INS. We were told six to eight weeks, but most people we talked to said, "Yeah, they always tell you six to eight weeks, but really it's more like four to six." So much for that theroy. Apparently, if we lived elsewhere in the nation, we could have recieved our 171 in as little as 8 days- 10 at the most! But NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! We live in the land of the illegal aliens who are, doubtless, clogging up the system.
Somewhere in the back of your mind I can hear you saying, "So it's nine or ten weeks- relax- it will get here." And you're right (I hope), but today is Sept 1 and in four days our facilitators, USAA, will close the window for September paperwork which will go to China in October. Which means, that if we don't get that 171 damn quick, and rush our paperwork to USAA, we've lost another month and our dossier won't go to China until November, we won't get a referral until next June or July, and we won't get our daughter until next fall. It's not the end of the world, but it is dissappointing.
I called Hemlata, the director of our adoption agency, to ask if she had a phone number for the INS and she told me to use the one provided in my paperwork. So I did. At nine a.m. the line goes to voice mail for some woman who says her name so fast you can't understand it. I left a message explaining my plight, but I'm not holding my breath that I'll hear back from her. I'm going to post on the bulletin board for China adoptions to see if someone out there knows another number. We'll keep you posted.