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Posts Tagged ‘USCIS’


I

am

not

happy!

Amie heard from Senator McCain’s office today. They (USCIS) cannot find Asher’s file (yes, we have known this for some time). What has to happen is that we go to USCIS (again) and use his paperwork to reconstruct (or that would just be construct?) his file. The good news is that we have a stamp on his passport!

The Senator’s office told us that any of the 10+ USCIS officers we talked to should have known to do this, and this includes the woman who told me to my face that it had to be entered at the point of entry. So, we have wasted weeks waiting, hours on the phone and at least one trip to the other side of town and have nothing to show for it but governmental incompetence. If we ever get socialized medicine people are going to be dropping like flies or going to prison for going postal or medieval on someone. Supposedly the Senator’s office (not to be confused with Angela’s husband, the State Senator) will be contacting the district supervisor to make sure the peons understand they have the authority and responsibility to do this instead of just passing it along the chain until we just give up and go away. It really seems like a game to see who is more persistent, them in their laziness or us in our desire to obey the law. Funny, that: people who want to obey the law being given the run around while the government makes sure they cater to people not interested in following the law. I’m living a Kafka novel.

A relatively quiet week here otherwise as Amie and I cough in stereo. I have felt particularly lousy much of the week. While sleeping, or lying down, my chest makes a strange noise after I exhale. Gunk accumulates while I lie down, which creates all kinds of fun when I get up.

We did have our post-placement visit from the social worker Monday. Asher, the laughing man, was not in a good mood the whole time. Mostly crying. Great… She was here for about 90 minutes and asked far too many questions. Then on Thursday, we loaded up the van and went to the County Attorney’s office to sign the re-adoption paperwork. Looks like we’ll be all set for the “court at the park” date of November 3rd. Much more fun than going to court.

The kids don’t have parasites. Thankfully only Ash was tested but they have been in the same environments. That may save us some money of the rather expensive tests.

It was Amie’s birthday on Wednesday. Lots of singing and dancing. On Tuesday we went to Thunder Canyon Brewery with a friend to take advantage of her birthday offer. Her birthday breakfast was sausage and french toast. I had Men’s Group on Wednesday, so we had a few friends over for dinner Thursday night for her birthday dinner of marinated skirt steak, cheesy risotto and roasted brussel sprouts.

The Dog Club in “Action”

Friday, as usual, was Game Day. Amie ran errands including a pedicure and haircut while I took the kids to Game Day. It was a beautiful, cool day. You’d think it was a rainy day with how grumpy they’ve been all day. As the older gets get … older, they start to drift farther and farther away from where their father is sitting and reading a book. While they have Game Day I listen to a sermon (today’s was not so good as there was a huge exegetical flaw in it) while I walk the perimeter of the park. Today I was not pushing the stroller since now there are activities for kids Asher’s age. Afterward, the kids play with their friend Stephanie. They (Jadon and Stephanie) formed the Dog Club and bring stuffed dogs to play with. I don’t really get it, and neither do their friends who have been sucked in, but they have fun. But they start roaming and I lose track of them. Sometimes they leave Asher in the dust and that isn’t good since he’ll roam. You end up feeling like a bad parent, and in that moment you probably aren’t one.

Tonight I get sprung from the zoo, as I head to Phoenix to see The Choir in concert. I haven’t seen them play live in over 20 years. I’m excited. Been awhile since I’ve been to a concert. I’m sure I’ll be one of about 50 people who recognize the greatness of the band. Maybe there will be more. It should be good and loud, so no one will hear my coughing. Before the concert, I’ll see my doctor in Phoenix about this cough. Though I feel better today, I just don’t want to take a chance with the weekend coming. Keep in mind that I’ve got 3 hours of membership class to teach on Saturday and then the usual stuff on Sunday.

Here is The Choir performing Circle Slide, since USCIS has me on one!

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Has it really been nearly 2 weeks? Wow!

Amie’s feeling mostly better, but the cough lingers on. The past few days I’ve been feeling lousy and coughing. So we are the Coughing Cavs. I have a dry cough and sound “froggy”. Amie has been more active, and I’ve been slightly less. No congestion, just some post-nasal drip I guess that leads to congestion in my lungs. Always nice when you have to teach and preach the next day.

We got good news on the kids’ blood work. They had chicken pox! They will appreciate skipping that shot. They were negative for syphilis and HIV. They do not have Sickle Cell Anemia. This is all good stuff. We are in the process of checking for parasites. Yes,, folks, stools samples! Four for each child. That is always exciting, isn’t it? I appreciate the fact that Asher has diapers for a change. It makes the whole process much easier. Micah is not keen on letting us know when she has to do some business. For a stay-at-home, Amie never seems to be home when the kids go poop and a sample needs to be collected. I’ve been way ahead in the race neither of us wants to win.

Asher is still undocumented. We called USCIS again. Actually, Amie did and then got busy and handed me the phone. I inadvertently hung up on a person looking for the file. Yes, it sounds like it is in a box or filing cabinet. It is doesn’t sound like an electronic file. The next person I talked to said we should set up an appointment at the district office. Now they tell me this? Why didn’t they say this 2-3 weeks ago? I felt like I was talking with Verizon or something.

So Amie set up an appoint which was this Thursday. So I drove the 30 minutes to the office by the airport. Unlike the packed SSA office, no one was there. The blessing of appointments, I guess. I spent about 5 minutes there. Most of that was a highly unproductive conversation in which the officer kept telling me “They have to enter the information and create the file at the point of entry.” To which I kept replying, “How will they know they need to do this?” Did I need to fill out a form, was she going to send the photocopy of the stamped visa to them? She refused to answer my question. More Verizon-like service. Finally she said they would send that slip of paper with my phone numbers on it to DC to have the info entered.

The Friday Amie finally heard back from Senator McCain’s office. Apparently the person handling our case has been sick, but the office has been quite mysterious about her schedule assuming we must obviously be stalkers or terrorists. The paperwork is actually at the National Benefits Center, but the alien number is incorrect and no action has been taken. It might be in with Micah’s file. So… we might be getting somewhere. Might.

Since we are scanning documents to re-file our 2011 taxes (2011 was a refund year, and since the DRC is a non-Hague country the important date is the Decree of Adoption, not when we take physical custody of the children), we decided to start the re-adoption process thru the Country Attorney’s Office. It is much cheaper than going thru your own attorney. If we can get everything done by next Friday, we can have our “court” date at the Adoption Celebration at a local park on a Saturday in November. Yeah, instead of in court the kids will be able to play in bounce houses, slides and more. That sounds much better to us! Suddenly we need our post-adoption social worker visit ASAP. So, we’ll have that Monday afternoon.

With Amie’s birthday next week, she wanted to do a family type thing this Saturday. We hoped to go hiking or up in the mountains. But with me being a bit slow on the draw that didn’t happen. We went to a trail by the Santa Cruz River, water courtesy of the water treatment plant. It is very green there! We brought scooters for Jadon and Eli, and Micah’s bike. I forgot the stroller for Ash. Not so good. Amie and Ash too the slow road. Not too many ducks on the river today. But we tossed rocks into the river. Always fun. Lulu came along this time, so that keeps me on my toes as people go by. No other dogs this time.

Then the kids played on the cable jungle gym. Eli, ever the timid one, still doesn’t go close to the top. Micah made it about half way up. While we were sitting in the shade watching the kids, someone came over to talk to us about adoption. We’re always happy to answer questions, and they are usually good questions.

In between coughing fits, Amie has been talking to some other people who have recently adopted from the DRC. They are having a more difficult adjustment than we are. It sounds more like when we adopted Eli. I think we all dropped weight from the stress. I’d like to drop a few pounds, but I’m glad this has been a pretty smooth transition.

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Alien of Another Kind

Been a bit busy around here, and Amie has been under the weather. She doesn’t get sick very often. Quite rare in fact, but the trip to Africa (and all the stress) have probably compromised her immune system. So she has a nasty sinus and respiratory infection that just won’t let go. Sort of like the alien that shoots out of the pod and sticks the tube down your throat with its tail around your neck. I expect some alien creature to pop out of her chest whenever she has a coughing fit.

Okay, not really.

We last I wrote, we had discovered that the DHS officer working immigration at  the airport had really botched things. Asher’s date of entry, among other things, was not entered. He is technically not in the country as far as USCIS is concerned. Yes, we have an undocumented child.

We have received Micah’s green card despite not being listed as her parent/guardian on the file by the DHS employee (maybe he was a replacement DHS worker since he seems unable to do his job like the replacement refs).

One of these may appear at any moment

Amie has talked with 5-6 people with USCIS about this problem. No one seems to 1. know how to address it and 2. know who does know how to correct it. So she gets another number to call, explains it (as she tries not to cough up a lung, or alien baby), and gets another number to call. It’s like trying to get an answer from the administration about the protests in the Middle East- the answer always changes. Actually, the 5th or 6th person never called us back. We’ve been on USCIS hold for about 1 1/2 weeks.

She tried the State Department. They seemed nice, wanting to help. Couldn’t/didn’t.

Bruce should rename this song “Call it Bureaucracy”. (there is profanity, so decide whether you want to hear it) (the story continues after the song)

Now we are on to Senator McCain’s office. I’m not wild about McCain. But as the Senior Senator from AZ (he is, right?) he’d probably have more pull than Kyl, and Ron Barber reeks of incompetence. Perhaps he works for DHS in his spare time messing up immigration forms.

The SSA, on the other hand, has surprised us greatly. This despite the fact they couldn’t pull up Asher’s records. Micah’s card, which was supposed to take 2 weeks was actually printed the day I went in and we received it a few days later. I was told at least 4-6 weeks for Asher’s due to the “problem”. Less than 2. So in less time than it took anyone from USCIS to get back to us (okay, one did, on a Saturday, but gave us another number), the SSA has gotten us SSNs and cards for these to new children. Go figure.

There haven’t been many photo ops as we have settled into the busier life that Fall brings. Sunday School and the Men’s and Women’s ministries have resumed. BSF has begun. Not as much leisure time. This is part of why we didn’t want to wait until the agency was ‘ready’ for us to go. We wanted some more relaxed time before everything ramped up.

I was supposed to go to Presbytery last week, in Albuquerque. I didn’t take the right turn by mistake. I didn’t go (see aforementioned alien baby). But we did have dinner with some friends on Saturday night. The kids played dress up. Micah was not too happy about her outfit. Though the nights are cooler now, The daytime temps are still around 100. Had to be hot in that thing. But you can tell that summer is over, you have to wait a few minutes for hot water. It isn’t instantaneous right now. Such is life in the desert.

Asher has been store the food in his mouth more frequently lately. We aren’t sure if he’s hoarding (which is common, but this way?) or wants to act like he’s eating without actually swallowing food he doesn’t want. No clue. But there have been some tantrums about that, particularly since neither he nor Amie enjoy the process of digging the food out of his mouth. We will take a page from Amy Smith’s book, and the food he doesn’t eat will reappear at the next meal. No, not the chewed up, drooled upon bits.

Micah has been doing well. But still cries at night. She claims she doesn’t want to go to bed. I understand that, I didn’t either as a child. This morning she was tired. “See, I told you you needed to get some sleep.” Not exactly what she wanted to hear. She was angry the other night because she wanted to bring a stuffed animal to bed with her. Not a problem, in theory. The problem was it is an animal that her cousins gave her during the “magical” time of our visit last winter. It has fond memories for her. Last night I was trying to find another one, from the great, big bin of them we have, for her to bring to bed. Nope, that was the only one she wanted. I can see this is going to go well.

Next time I write, perhaps the alien baby will be born and our son will be “documented”. Then again…..

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Amie was able to contact our adoption officer with USCIS last week.  She was able to coordinate faxing our friend’s fingerprints to the office in Phoenix. This means the officer has all of the information that is necessary to look at our file.  The officer anticipates handling our file Monday the 21st.  So be praying!

If we are approved, we will be ready to submit our dossier!  This is great news, as it would be a major step forward.  Another major step.  We will have to pay $2,300 at that time.  So, there is something else to pray about.

We also have a resource to recommend, the Reclaim Adoption Study Guide.  It is currently a free download!  See, we care for you (maybe the estimated value would make a great gift to to their ministry, or an adoption fund you know about (wink, wink)).  The study helps people to understand and grow in their experience of our adoption by God in Christ.  It also talks about the practice of adoption, which reflects the doctrine of adoption.  It should be both encouraging and challenging!

Lastly, this report on rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the reasons we decided to adopt from the DRC.  There is a great need to protect the children, who are most vulnerable (and sometimes the product of such violent assault).

HT: WiseCounsel

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When we were adopting for the first time we lived in central Florida.  The Department of Homeland Security office in Tampa handled all of central Florida- including 2 major metropolitan areas.  The first time we went, we misread the map and discovered this most of the way to the wrong office.  This office was in downtown Tampa.  Sadly, the office we were supposed to go to was far closer to home.  Sigh.

The office was huge with nearly a dozen biometic scanners for fingerprinting.  I always seemed to get the grumpy employees.  Yes, we had to go back since our fingerprints ‘expired’ right before Amie’s trip to China.  It was pretty much a nightmare.

So we did not know what to expect when we got our appointments last month.  We did discover that they only sent appointment slips for the 2 of us.  The  church member who lives with us also needed to be fingerprinted.  Amie called the customer service # to see what we should do.  She got a real live person in less than an hour!  Apparently, though they took our money for 3 sets of fingerprints, they didn’t actually “open” the file.  The customer service rep said that he could just go with us and there shouldn’t be a problem.

As it turned out, we had one of those weeks.  Utterly insane quite frankly.  We are trying to find affordable insurance that includes Eli who had previously been excluded due to his cleft palate.  The Saturday before our appointment we discovered that a pipe at the church froze and burst.  The kitchen was destroyed and the sanctuary was flooded.  I was working with other church officers on setting up plans for the continuation of ministry as well as repairing the building.  The last thing I needed to do was spend an afternoon hanging around a DHS Support Center.

The Support Center was on the far side of town.  Thankfully not too far from the highway.  It was actually quite underwhelming.  It was significantly smaller than the office in Tampa since it was an auxiliary office.  The main office was in Phoenix.  There were precisely 2 machines, and one person who was scanning prints.

However, the manager needed a number, and without an appointment she wasn’t sure what to do with our friend.  Unlike Amie, she was not able to get a real, live person on the line.  She wasn’t sure what to do.  But she was flexible, focused on customer service (what a relief after some of our discussions with local government officials who forgot they are public SERVANTS).  She figured that the worst that could happen is that he’d have to come back.

In and out, with the administrative hassles in less than an hour.  Yes!  This was great because I’d not slept the previous 2 nights and I was utterly brain dead.  I suspect that if I hadn’t brought a book, we might still be there.

So we return to the waiting game.  Once/if USCIS approves our application, we will then send in our dossier to the DRC, and wait.

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The state of Arizona has decided we are actually qualified to adopt another human being, again.  It did not take as long as we thought it would take (take note those who follow in our footsteps, most things take far longer than you anticipate).  So we regained some of the time (only a tad) lost waiting on the state of FL to realize there was no record of any incidents related to either of us.

Curiously, she submitted the home study to the court before we looked at it.  In FL, the state did not certify us to adopt.  So, when we got the home study we found a few minor errors like the “fact” that I grew up in Nassau, NH.

Now on to the I-600A.  Note to the wise: make sure you look at the USCIS website.  Many sites that you Google that have summaries will have outdated information.  For instance, if I had not verified information on the USCIS website we would not have sent enough money to cover the fees.

Speaking of the fee, in our case it will be about $1,000 we don’t currently have in the bank account.  So if you’d pray for that outlay of cash (and/or pray about a donation- see how you can help), we’d very much appreciate it.

This is the first document in which you petition the U.S. government to adopt an orphan from overseas.  The government will see if we meet their qualifications to adopt (again).  Seeing as how Congress has an approval rating under 20% (and plummeting fast), this should not be a big problem.  Then again…

We will also need to be fingerprinted again.  That should be fun.  An appointment here in Tucson could be a much longer wait than it was in FL.  If you live in a region not on the border, rejoice!

So, our paper chase is pretty much done.  Now we have to deal with the governments of the U.S. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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