Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good News!

More good news to share today!  I received a call from my congressman's office this morning.  They spoke with our immigration officer last Wednesday and she told them she thought our file could be approved within 14 days!!!  That means that as early as next Wednesday (only one week from tomorrow), our 1-171H could be IN THE MAIL!  I'm trying not to get too excited, but I'm so relieved to hear 14 days instead of 45.  That's a HUGE difference when you're worried about documents expiring and a little girl waiting.  The congressman's office is going to follow up with the officer this Friday, so I should have an update by the end of the week or next Monday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

DANIL HAS A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm SOOOOO excited to report that Danil's family has found him!!!  HURRAY!!!  No more internat for him.  He's going HOME!!!!

Hurry Up and Wait

We have another week before our senator's office is going to contact USCIS.  Until then, we just sit and wait.  I recently pulled out a book that I read at the beginning of this process called The Complete Book of International Adoption by Dawn Davenport.  It's such a great book for anybody beginning or considering an international adoption.  Dawn has an entire chapter dedicated to "surviving the wait", which is the time in between submitting the paperwork and, in our case, getting our travel date.  She includes a list of 42 activities that help to pass the time.  Not all of them are applicable to us since we aren't first time parents and we aren't adopting a baby, but there are a few that I'm working on.  They include:

1.  Learning as much of your child's birth language as possible- Right now I'm working on learning the alphabet of this language and a few simple words and phrases such as "please", "thank-you", "hello", "How much is this?".  After I get the basics down, I really hope to learn some child phrases like "Are you hungry?", "Time for bed", and "I love you".  I'm also working on arranging to have an interpreter who speaks Dana's language available to us once we're home.  I think I've found a women who is willing to help and, the best part, she lives about 5 minutes from us! 

2.  Read adoption books and articles.- I've been reading adoption books for a while now, but since the paper chase has ended, I have a bit more time and can pick up the pace.  I'm currently reading Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen and, I have to say, it's probably one of my favorites. 

3.  Choose a name.- As I've said before, Dana is not our little girl's real name.  Her real name is very pretty, but it not what she is called.  She instead goes by a nickname.  We have been discussing and debating whether or not to keep her real name, use her nickname, or give her a new name.  My husband and I never easily agreed on the names of our other children (Poor Sam went without a name for almost 5 days!), so I don't know why I thought this time would be any different.  I think we are close to getting it figured out, but it could also be another 2 months before we agree...who knows!

4.  Research early-intervention programs.- We do not know for sure that Dana is going to have developmental delays (although she will no doubt have normal orphanage delays), but I want to be prepared just in case so I've spoken with our school district and discussed some of our various options.

5.  Tackle your "someday" list.- At the very top of my list is organizing the storage area of our basement.  It's a mess and it WILL be conquered before Dana comes home.  Now that I've put this on my blog, I have to do it, right?  :)

6. Arrange for the care of children if you will be leaving them at home when you travel.- This is a biggie for me.  I'm already trying to think ahead and plan for every possible situation while we're gone.  I know the separation is going to be difficult for everyone, especially the kids, so I'm trying to make life as easy and stress-free as possible for everyone while we're gone. 

7.  Learn a few lullabies and bouncy games.-  I downloaded this CD onto my ipod.  Some of the songs are in English and others are in Russian.  The music is so relaxing that I've even been listening to it in the evening to unwind. 

8.  Begin preparing a lifebook for your child.- Dana's lifebook will be the story of how she came to be our daughter as well as the story of her life before she came to us.  It's kind of like a scrapbook that covers her life up until she became a member of our family.

I think that's about it.  These eight to-do's should help us survive the wait and keep us busy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Better Day

I picked up our dossier today from the Secretary of State's office and thankfully it survived the 48 hours that it was out of my sight.  It is now double the thickness with all the apostille sheets that were added and I will soon begin the tedious job of triple-checking each document in preparation to mail it to EE.  Here it is in all it's glory (sorry about the bad lighting).

Still no change with our USCIS situation.  I did speak with the immigration specialist at our senator's office today and the new plan is to have her follow up with our officer in 2 weeks.  She made no guarantees, but was fairly encouraging and said she would be very surprised if all these inquiries into our case from our representatives did not make USCIS take notice and speed it up.  I felt a little better after speaking with her but I know I won't be able to stop worrying until that  I-171H is in my hands.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's not fair!

Today I received a call from our Immigration officer at USCIS (United States Citzenship and Immigration Services). Since we have been waiting almost one month to be assigned an officer, you would think this would make me happy, but it did not. The officer called to tell me that our request to expedite our application was being denied. Dana's medical condition is not considered a medical emergency (As a side note,"medical emergency" is not even an official USCIS expedite criteria. I would assume medical emergencies fall under the "humanitarian situation" criteria and reasons other than medical could be considered humanitarian.). She then pretty much told me that our application was going at the bottom of her pile and she'd get to when she could. Gee, thanks lady! I'm not sure what my next step is because I really, really, really don't want to wait up to 45 more days for approval, however I also don't want to piss off Officer Attitude so I have to be careful.  My congressman's office has already tried to help expedite things to no avail. I made a couple of calls this afternoon and hope to hear back from somebody who might have some influence, but I'm not holding my breath. This is soooooo frustrating. If anybody out there has any federal connections (I'm not sure what that means, but I know it's what I need), please email me at FamWain2@aol.com.  Otherwise, please just say a prayer that this officer stops being difficult and just does her job.

On a lighter note, in the middle of one of my marathon phone calls this afternoon, the doorbell rang and it was the UPS guy. He was delivering this cute little addition to Dana's new room:

It's an alarm clock radio for her nightstand.  Plus, the bedposts light up as a night-light.  My husband doesn't understand why a 3-year old needs an alarm clock, but I don't think he gets just how adorable this one is (the alarm clock AND the 3 year-old!).  Dana's room is almost finished.  I just have a few things to finish up and then I'll post pictures.  Thanks for reading! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Apostille Anxiety

I dropped off our dossier this afternoon at the Secretary of State's office so that the documents could be apostilled. I felt like I was leaving one of my kids with a stranger when I handed over that stack of papers to the woman behind the desk. I asked her several questions about how she planned to keep my paperwork safe and I'm pretty sure she thought I was nuts. I was serious, though, because to say those papers are IMPORTANT to me would be the understatement of the millenium. She had an open can of Diet Coke sitting on her desk and she laid all 32 of my documents right beside it. All afternoon I've had visions of a Diet Coke-soaked dossier. Oh well, what can I do? Like so many other aspects of this process, it's out of my control at this point. All I can do is say a little prayer that when I go back on Wednesday to pick it all up, it's there and dry. :)

I realize that not everybody who is reading this blog knows what an apostille even is. A few months ago, I not only did not know what one was, I also didn't know how to pronounce it. In order to adopt from Dana's country, we need to send over a bunch of documents that include details of just about every aspect of our lives-medical statements, financial records, criminal history checks, etc. This is called the dossier. Every document in the dossier needs to be notarized. Then the document must be apostilled. The apostille (pronounced app-uh-steel) is basically a seal that is placed on the document as proof of the authenticity of the notary. I'll post a picture of one of my documents when I (hopefully) get them back on Wednesday so you can see how pretty it looks.

We are still waiting on the final piece of our dossier to arrive. It's called the I-171H and it's the approval from U.S. Immigration for us to parent an adopted child. Once it arrives, I will need to take it downtown and have it apostilled and then I will overnight our entire dossier to Eastern Europe. From there, our facilitation team will translate all our documents and submit them to the government. We will then receive an appointment date and can book our travel to meet Dana.

I'll leave you with a picture I created on Picnik and included in all the thank-you notes I sent to people who have helped in some way with our paperwork (friends who wrote recommendations on our behalf, notary publics, doctor's office staff, etc).

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