Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!!

Here we are, standing in the last day of 2007. Looking back over this year I have a lot of fond memories. We moved into our dream home, watched my baby start preschool, enjoyed Disneyland and San Diego with my family and began our adoption journey. It's hard for me to be sad about leaving 2007 when I know that in 2008 we will bring our daughter home!! I know for me just being in 2008 makes me feel closer to Emily. So while 2007 was a nice year, I'm ready to move on..."Onward" as my grandma says. So...bring on the new year!! I am so ready for you!!!

My hope is that this is the year that everyone's dreams of growing families comes true.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Receipt Received

I collected the extra documents needed for my I-600A and mailed them on Thursday. I just received my certified receipt that the documents were received by USCIS on Friday, Dec 21st. We are hoping to have our approval back by the end of January.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Holiday season. Christmas is almost here! We have actually finished our christmas shopping and our grocery shopping. We may actually be all ready for X-mas Eve and X-mas day one full day early this year. This is rare for us and it is nice. The boys are very excited and ask everday, "Is today Christmas?" It sure is hard to wait when you are little.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I-600A update

On Friday I got a call from the USCIS officer handling our I-600A application. Wow!! If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is. Getting a call...not waiting for news through the mail. Wow! He confirmed that he has received our entire file and that our fingerprints came back clear. There are no words for that simple gift. He is requesting 3 additional documents and then they can finalize our application. Maybe I did have a little luck from someone watching over me. Just three more documents...okay this I can handle. I have one of them, one is being mailed to me and one more we have to figure out where to go to get it. I'm hoping with a little more luck to be able to certify the rest of these documents and send them off to him by Friday. Hopefully, we will hear back sometime in January. I feel so much better already!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My adventure to my local USCIS office

I was expecting to receive good news in the mail regarding our I-600A any day now. Our local office was reporting 3 month turn around times and my application was sent in late August and my homestudy completing the application followed in Sept so that put me at the end of December at the latest. Well, imagine my surprise and disappointment when I got a letter from USCIS asking for additional evidence to support my application. Here is the request:

1) Evidence of Health Coverage Insurance for your adopted child
2) Evidence of financial ability- Submit I-134 Affidavit of Support
3) Evidence of employment-letters from your employers regarding annual earnings, years of employment and future employment prospective
4) Copy of your income tax return form 1040 for year 2006

The letter then goes on with some very unclear wording that leads me to believe they haven't received our fingerprints or our homestudy. Which unfortunately really worried me as the instructions for the fingerprint receipt was to fax immediately and the homestudy was sent from my homestudy agency so I don't know if it was sent certified mail as that seems to be the only way you have some confidence that the USCIS office guarantees receipt.

I was advised from an adoption forum I'm on to "info pass" the office and meet in person to get this cleared up. I first called a 1-800 number for the USCIS and was given an email for my local office. I sent an email off asking for confirmation of what is in my file and my application number because I didn't even have that. I was told 2 days turn around on the phone to hear's been 5 days no return email. So I made my info pass appt and went down there this morning thinking I was going to be able to get this all straightened out and hand the INS officer a copy of absolutely everything all stapled together, cover letter, etc. and be confident that it was all taken care of. Not exactly.

So here was my fun morning at USCIS. You stand in line outside but can not be more than 15 mins early. You have to bring your paperwork as well as the printed appt. time confirmation and your id. Leave all cell phones, camera, or other electronic devices in your car or you will be sent back to the car...that was me. Just like going through airport security put shoes, bags, files in bin and proceed through metal detector. Proceed to yellow line. Stand in another line to get a number only after the man at the window issuing you a number is satisified that you are worthy of an appt. Once given a number sit down and wait for your number to be called. It's a huge room with 15 teller like windows across the front of the room, of which only 3 are operating. It's best to get an early appt so you are not there all day even though you are given an appt time on-line.

Finally, my turn. The INS officer misunderstands the purpose of my visit and tries to dismiss me right off the bat. She thought I was there regarding my I-600. When I explain that I tried to email first for an explanation. She quickly gets upset and informs me that all adoption paperwork is submitted through the mail only not via person, phone or email. There is no phone or email for this dept and she does not know where that email went to. I'm outta luck there...strike 2. I explain to her my situation, that I did correspond through mail too and that I need to confirm with someone what is in my file. That I don't have another 4 months to wait for correspondance and I don't understand the wording about my fingerprints and homestudy. Do they have them or not?

She recognizes my INS officer and it turns out to be a male not a female as I thought I had been corresponding with. She assures me it is a man and that he is at a meeting or she could ask him right now for me. What are the chances? I think at this point she takes pity on me. It is a screwy system afterall and she likes my youthful face. She offers to take my completed stapled set of documents and place them on his desk because I came all this way. But this is not how it works she reminds me. She writes a note to him explaining that all the papers are there and that I would like written confimation back that my file is complete. Then she tells me there is no guarantee she can offer me that he has received this file even though she will put it on his desk. The only way to guarantee that is received by USCIS is to send a second set certified mail as that is my receipt/record that they have received the documents. She refuses to give me her name and tells me not to come back and be upset if I don't send in a second certified set through the mail if he says he did not receive the first set that is sitting on his desk. I agree, what else can I do? I watch her take a few seconds to walk next door and return back to me. "It's on his desk," she says, and "Good Luck" is her last words to me. "Thanks," I reply..."I'm going to need it." Now, being a superstitious person that I am, I can't help but notice my appt was made for the 13th and window 13 helped me. My grandpa's favorite number was 13 so I want to believe maybe he was helping me a little today. I know it's a stretch but I need all the luck I can on this without permission from the US govt to bring home a foreign child there is nothing more anyone else can do for us.

So this afternoon I will make yet another set of copies and send off certified mail a second set addressed to this man not woman and see where that gets me. I'm so glad I had the forethought to have 2 sets of the I-134 Affidavit of Support notarized. That sure saved me a trip! In the meantime, I'm still hoping to travel on my first trip in the spring and hope I have some conclusion before then as I won't be able to get a court date without this important document.

On a happier not...I hope everyone's holidays are bringing them joy. I'm excited for Carrie and Michael about the referral of their little boy! What a special time of the year to receive such wonderful news! Happy Holidays!
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