Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keep Praying for That I-171H

Well, it's been seven weeks since we sent in our I-600A application and we have not received our I-171H yet. :::: sigh :::: My poor mail carrier, I am going to have to start stalking her again.

After two phone calls last week to USCIS and no reply, I sent an email over the weekend and received a prompt, but generic response. It stated, "All adoptions were just centralized here at the NBC as of July 1, 2010. As a result, we have a back log. Cases are handled in the order they are received and fingerprint dates do not necessarily determine that order." That was good to know. I was wondering how they determine the order and was disappointed when Kira had to wait so long to get her prints taken.

We sent in our application on July 10, so it looks like we made it just in time to be with all of the other cases that are back logged. Oh joy.

I had also asked about getting our case expedited because I am starting to freak out about cutting it close by getting our dossier submitted to Aly's country before they stop accepting them for the winter. That request was met with, USCIS policy is "to expedite for life threatening medical emergencies where the child needs immediate medical treatment".

I did appreciate this part, "please know that our officers are working hard, even extra evening and weekend hours to process these cases as quickly as possible." I do feel sorry for everyone working at the USCIS, I really do. I can't imagine doing your job and having someone come in and change things around. You fall behind, and watch your never ending stack of work continue growing right before your very eyes. We've all been there and it can be very frustrating to be in that situation.

I'm curious what their current average time is. From what I'm gathering it sounds like it is somewhere between 8-12 weeks. When I heard it took one family three months, I was shocked. If we didn't receive ours for three months that would be too late and we would have to wait until February to submit our dossier. That would mean having to wait until possibly April to see my little Aly.

Bottom line... keep praying!!! God can do great things and He can get us that I-171H so we can bring Aly home asap.

- - - - - - - - -

Good news. I just found out that Aly's country will still be accepting dossiers through November! They still close down for two weeks during October (they shut down every quarter for two weeks), but this is such good news. Aly won't have to wait until spring to come home. I can't believe we are getting so close!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The People Who 'ARE'

By: Dave Hingsburger

It's in the press again. I search to find out the context of the word. I see debates all over the web, people bemoaning the 'politically correct' and the 'word police' and making ridiculous claims about having to ban the concept of a 'fire retardant'. Last I looked there's never been a protest about products that protect from fire. Last I looked there's only ever been protests about the use of a word that demeans a group of people.

No matter what the fearless defenders of freedom of speech say, there is a huge difference between a word to describe something that slows fire and someone who learns differently. There's a huge difference between a thing and a person - but, no, maybe not. After reading their diatribes regarding their freedom to spit out hurtful words, they may, really, not see people with disabilities as fully human with a human heart capable human hurt.

People mock the concept of respectful language regarding disability. People make odd arguments about the latest gaffe by ... no, I won't say her name here ... they say 'she was saying that of herself not anyone else' - um, so? The word she used was one referring, not to a commercial product, but to an oppressed minority. Yet the debate rages on and the fierceness of the attack by those who are proponents of the use of hate language are both hysterical and who often purposely miss the point. One wonders what's at stake - their personal liberty to hurt others?

It's time to recognize that the 'R' word is an attack against who people with with intellectual disabilities 'are', it is an attack against the group that they belong to. It is like other words that exist to slur an entire people, unacceptable. The fact that people do not see the seriousness of the word and the attack it represents is simply a result of the fact that they do not take the 'people' who wear that label seriously. The concerns of those with intellectual disabilities have always been diminished and trivialized. There is a sneaking suspicion that they 'don't understand, poor dears', that they 'miss the point, little lambs' so therefore their anger need not be feared as justified.

The people who 'ARE' what the 'R' word refers to have a long history.

They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.

They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.

They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.

They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.

They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.

They are the group most likely to be bullied, most likely to be tyrannized, most likely to be the target of taunts.

They are the least likely to have their hurt taken seriously, physical hurt, emotional hurt, spiritual hurt.

They are most likely to be ignored when they speak of pain, have their words diminished by an assumption of diminished capacity.

They are the least likely to ever be seen as equal, as equivalent and entirely whole.

They are the victim of some of the most widespread and pervasive prejudices imaginable.

They are those that the Nazi's thought unworthy of life, they are those targeted by geneticists for non-existence, they need fear those who wear black hats and those who wear white coats.

They are educated only under protest, they are included as a concession rather than a right, they are neighbours only because petitions failed to keep them out.

They are kept from the leadership of their own movement, they are ignored by the media, their stories are told to glorify Gods that they do not worship.

That they are a 'people' is questioned even though they have a unique history, a unique voice, a unique perception of the world.

That they are a 'community' is questioned even though they have commonality, they have mutual goals, they have a collective vision of the future.

That they are have a legitimate place at the table is questioned simply because no one's ever offered a seat.

They are a people.

They ask for respect and receive pity.

They ask for fair play and are offered charity.

They ask for justice and wipe spittle off their face.

They ask to silence words that brutalize them and their concerns are trivialized.

They ask to walk safely through their communities and yet bullies go unpunished.

They ask to participate fully and they are denied access and accommodation and acceptance.

And this is NOW.

This is the people who have walked the land of the long corridor, who have waited at the frontier of our bias to finally be here, now. They have survived. They have come home. They have continued, silently and without fanfare, to take hold of freedom and live with dignity. They have given everything they have for what others take for granted. Their civil liberties are perceived as 'gifts' as 'tokens' and as 'charity'. Their rights are seen as privileges. Their movement is, as of yet, unacknowledged. They are a people recently emancipated, new citizens, who are tentatively discovering their voice.

It is a voice not yet heard.

It is a voice not yet respected.

It is a voice not yet understood.

But it is speaking.

And when it is finally heard. The world will change.

The 'R' word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Did You Know?

143,000 orphans in the world spend an average of 10 years in orphanages or foster homes.

In countries such as Ukraine and Russia, about 15% of children who age-out of orphanages commit suicide before the age of 18.

60% of the girls become prostitutes, and 70% of the boys become criminals.

Every 15 seconds a child in Africa becomes an orphan due to AIDS.

Did you know that you can help change these statistics?

These statistics are taken courtesy of the Home for Good Foundation www.hfgf.org

November 7, 2010, is Orphan Sunday. This is a time for you and your church to promote orphan care and adoption. If you would like for your church to celebrate this event and encourage others to care for the "least of these," go to orphansunday.org to learn what tools and resources are available.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Question of the Day

Q. Do you know other families who have been where you'll be going to get Aly?

A. As far as I know, there have not been any other families (at least through Reece's Rainbow) who have adopted from our orphanage or from our region. However, there are two other families that are also currently in the process of adopting from the same orphanage.

The Rugg family is in the final stages of adopting Joy. They were able to send their dossier at the beginning of July and are currently waiting to see when their dossier will be submitted. They had to redo one of their documents, which is why it is taking so long. You can read about their experiences at Bring Makayla Home.

The Brown family are in the process of becoming Matthew and Ivanna's forever family. They too are also nearing the end of this "paperwork pregnancy". I believe they are waiting for their home study to be completed so that they can send in their application to the USCIS. You can read their adventures at An Extra Leaf.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cheesecake and Fingerprints

Good news! Kira and I were able to get our fingerprints for USCIS taken today. We sent our I-600A application on July 10, so it has taken exactly one month to get all three of our fingerprints completed (Brian was able to get his done on July 30). It is such a huge relief to have this checked off our list. Now we will wait for the I-171H (aka "The Golden Ticket") to arrive. I'm not sure exactly how long this usually takes to arrive, but I think I am going to give my mail carrier two weeks off before I begin stalking again. Just between you and me, I am secretly hoping it arrives sooner. I can't imagine the stack of applications our USCIS officer has on her desk that need to be processed before us and she did inform us that they are handled in the order they are received.

When we went to get our fingerprints taken this morning, there was a man at the door checking to make sure you had a form with your appointment date on it and ID before he would let you in. First, he wanted to know why we were there ahead of our appointment. I explained about our adoption and that my husband had already had his prints taken (I'm so glad I had his form to show the stamp they put on it to show that it was completed). Then he was concerned because Kira's middle name was not on her form, but is on her driver's license (and all of her other forms of ID). What was her legal name? What name is listed on her birth certificate? He sent her to a separate line to get that cleared up. First they asked for her work permit. What? No, that's not why we were there. Then they assumed she was adopting. Again, no. After she explained her parents were the ones adopting, everyone was finally on the same page. Fortunately they didn't think her name was all that common and wouldn't be a problem. They did however make her add her full name under the "also known as" which was surprising. I always thought that was for things like maiden names, previous married names, I legally changed my name because I could not go through life as Adolf Hitler, etc. Once the name thing was all settled, Kira was finally able to get her prints taken. After that we were off to celebrate my mom's birthday with a little cheesecake (my sister got to celebrate her actual birthday with her last week with pie). Mmmm I just love birthdays. Please pray for my mom as she is having surgery August 13.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oops... and Yay!

As I was double-checking all of our paperwork to make sure everything was accounted for last night, I realized that I had forgotten to take our marriage certificates to get apostilled last week (oops!). Saturday, we received our new state police clearances. Thankfully, this time the form had a signature from someone that is already in the system. I had thought about waiting until we receive the I-171H from USCIS and getting them all done then, but we all decided that once we receive the I-171H I will probably be too excited and forget to take the marriage certificates again. Not wanting to risk that, and wanting to have more documents in my completed file, off to Los Angeles I went again. It's amazing, no matter what time of day I go, there is always traffic. What is that about?

Yay, Kira's USCIS appointment for her fingerprints finally arrived today! Her actual appointment is for September 1, but we are planning on going first thing in the morning. It is so exciting to be yet another step closer to bringing Alyona home.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Apostilles are Done!

Yay, we have all of the apostilles completed and in our possession! I was able to drive to Los Angeles today and get the remaining documents apostilled. Better yet, when I arrived home, I checked the mail and the remaining documents I sent to the Secretary of State in Sacramento were there, all with that beautiful gold seal. I believe that I have all of our documents for the dossier apostilled, but I am going to have to wait for fresh brain cells to go over everything one last time.

The officer from USCIS also left a message today saying Kira's appointment has been set up for September 1, and a form had been sent out on Tuesday. She said she sent out a form today as well--a back up I suppose. She also mentioned it would be okay to go in early for our fingerprint appointment. I'm praying we will receive Kira's appointment in the mail on Saturday and we will be able to go for our final fingerprints on Monday. This is so exciting, I can't believe we are so close!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monroe Has a Family!

You may remember Monroe from my previous post. Well great news! Monroe has a family! The Cornish family, who have previously adopted through Reece's Rainbow, are looking forward to adding Monroe to their family! Congratulations!

The County of San Diego Must be So Proud!

In the past two days I have been to the county clerks office in Los Angeles and Orange County. As I walk up to their office, I am filled with dread at the prospect that awaits me. I am frightened at the mere thought of a line that snakes it way back and forth, that could possibly take an hour of my life or more, looking at the back of someone else's head. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to find that at both offices there was absolutely no line... unheard of! There were other people at the counter being helped, but I was the first in line! I handed over my paperwork for notary authentication, they briefly looked at the notary, filled out the supporting paperwork, and voilá, I was on my way. Now that is service.

Brian on the other hand, had the task of going to the country clerk's office in San Diego. I told him, don't worry about it, I had no line what so ever, it'll be quick. Well of course when he got there the line was HUGE! After 1-1/2 hours he was up. He handed over his paperwork for notary authentication as well, and his gal inspected all of the documents with a fine-tooth comb. Nope, can't do it. It seems there is a mistake. What? No! Yep, you see when the form says "person(s)" and it is for Brian only and the notary forgot to cross out the (s), the clerk could not possible authenticate said document with good conscience. How could she possibly be held legally responsible for the gross negligence of another? All for a single "s". Also, she didn't like the wording of the jurat. She thought that the notary's name needed to be included in it after the sworn and sealed part.

Brian went back the following day and again she went over the documents with a fine-tooth comb. She told him that she still didn't think it was right, but wouldn't look at the copy she showed him the day before of how it was supposed to be. Her supervisor wasn't in to look at it either, and she'd said she would have to send it downtown. He asked her if she could fax it. (Have I told you about the little girl we're adopting?) She faxed it, went on break, and then went to a meeting. When she finally returned, she had completely forgot Brian was still there. He reminded her that he was still waiting and she told him that they said it was fine. Three minutes later he was out the door. Wow, for what took me three minutes, it took him three hours over two days, but he finally has the notary authentication and now I can go back to Los Angeles for the apostilles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reece's Rainbow Child of the Month: August 2010

Boy, Born November 25, 2005
Brian is a bundle of love :) Blonde hair and big brown eyes, he is waiting for his family to come for him. He was born with hydronephrosis and does have hypthyroidism.
Brian is nearing 5 and needs a family quickly. He is blessed to still be at the baby house, which is one of the nicer ones. We have had several families adopt from here, and this region is a beautiful place to visit. There are MANY children with Down syndrome and other special needs waiting in this orphanage who can be adopted together.
Hope someone will consider Brian!
I have $2265 in my grant fund towards the cost of my adoption!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm So Glad I Called

Our officer with the USCIS emailed us today. It seems that when the I-600A application is entered into the system, only the parents are automatically issued fingerprint appointments. It isn't until they actually read your home study and discover that there is somebody else over 18 years old living in your house, that they issue additional fingerprint appointments... not that the amount written on the check would be any clue ($670 per couple + $80 for each additional person 18 and over... I know, procedures). Thankfully, Officer Saunders entered Kira into the system to be issued an appointment. Unfortunately, our location is currently filled to capacity. Once a space opens up, the system will automatically schedule her. I am so glad I contacted her.

I took our state police clearances to Los Angeles to be apostilled today, and typically they would be able to do it, but the manager that signed the form must be new, as his name was not in the system. They let me know that I could go and get the form notarized, and then have the notary authenticated with the county clerk, and then I would be able to come back and request the apostille. Well, I went and got the required notary and had it authenticated, but was unable to return to Los Angeles today for the apostilles. Tomorrow, I am planning on calling the attorney general's office to 1) let them know the signature will not get anyone an apostille and 2) please send me another copy with a valid signature (just in case). They know that for foreign adoptions this form needs to be apostilled, so why would they have someone signing the state police clearances before they were even in the system? Just saying.

I'm so excited to be getting closer, but when I read about the Urban's and their struggle at the embassy, to get the visas to bring their kiddos home, all because of a letter their insurance company won't give them until they have custody of their kids, but they can't get custody of their kids without the letter :::sigh:::... I know that it's not over once the dossier has been sent. That is actually good to know now, instead of being completely blind-sided once your in country. I appreciate when families keep it real and let us know of the struggles they experience along the way. Oh, this will all have been so worth it once my little cutie is home where she belongs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm a Stalker

Yep, I'm stalking my mail carrier. Every day you can find me waiting by my mailbox for Kira's USCIS biometric appointment. Friday... nothing. Saturday... nothing. That's it, I called USCIS. Left a message for our officer first thing this morning. Sure her message says she returns calls between 1-2 central time, but did I get a call... no. Not today at least. I know they are busy and have huge case loads, but please. Since I didn't hear back from our officer, I just had to leave an email as well.

My mail carrier did mention that mail does get separated. I'm guessing that would that be like when your luggage ends up in another airport in another state.

Monday... still nothing! ::: sigh :::

I'm feeling good about Tuesday!