The Stress Nearly Did Me In.

We needed one piece of paper to move Poppy’s adoption forward.  ONE.

I am currently holding it in my hand.  I nearly slept with it y’all, but I was afraid I would wrinkle it.

Yesterday started the same way most days have started lately, with nearly incessant checking of my email.  Come on I800 approval, I need you to come today.  That only leaves me with four days to get Poppy’s NVC letter, then Art 5 has to be dropped off and picked up so that I can leave late the following week and get into China before their mid-Autumn Fest shuts down the Consulate, and the country, for a week.  Do you see the timing crunch here?  Please God.  Please.

By 10am, I had nothing.  So, I sent two emails, one to our friendly USCIS Officer (I’m not being sarcastic, she is VERY nice, the process…it is just jacked up) and one to the aide in our Congressional Rep’s Office (who, FYI, is also LOVELY).  I got an email back within the hour from our USCIS Officer saying she needed the OFFICIAL copy of our Letter of Acceptance from China (the one with the pretty red border).  Phew.  Even though I was sitting at my desk at work, I had a copy in my email because I had forwarded a copy to our agency when that beautiful document had hit our door from China.  So, I sent it on to our Officer.   Our Congressional Rep’s Office emailed and said she had called our Officer and asked her to PLEASE hurry.  Thank you.  Then our Officer emailed again and asked for a copy of our privacy release so she could speak freely with our Congressional Rep’s Office.  Sent, along with a sweet reminder to PLEASE HURRY.  Another hour later, at about 11 am, I got another email from our Officer…did you pay your $720.

Oh dang.  You see y’all, I DID pay the $720 and the check had been returned to me from the Department of Homeland Security with a note saying that since this was an extension of my I800A, paying again wasn’t necessary.  Yeah, but this ain’t my first rodeo.  While the I800A is an extension, the I800 is new, because we used our previous I800 last year when we adopted Mighty.  This is a new kiddo.  I owe money to immigrate Poppy to the U.S.  I tried to pay.  I explained this to our Officer and she emails me back…and an RFE is attached.

NOOOOO!!!!

What’s an RFE you ask, well let me tell you, it stands for ‘Request for Evidence’, in this case, the evidence they want is their $720.   Sadly, they want it before they issue my approval.  That RFE was like a red light in the middle of the highway.  It was a no go.  We won’t be moving forward until that check was received at the dreaded lockbox, where all paperwork goes to die.  And, the fault was all mine, I had checked box 41 wrong.  I put a ‘no’ where there should be a ‘yes’ and that check bounced right back to me.  When I called the main phone line, all they can do is tell me my balance owed based on the information given to them.  That information was incorrect.  I own that.  I get it, I owe $720, but I TRIED TO PAY IT.  I’m an honest person.  I’m good for it, I swear!!! Because, you know, they probably NEVER hear that.  So, I emailed back, with a tone and content that I apparently only save for embassies, consulates and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, because the last time I begged anyone for anything this openly was when we were trying to get Giggles and ShyGuy out of Ghana.  “Noooo!  Please!!! I am so sorry I checked box ’41’ incorrectly, it’s all my fault.  My husband is ready to wire money to your account.  I’ll Fedex it and send you the tracking number.  I’ll give you my credit card number right now.  Please!!! Isn’t there anything you can do?!? This is a medically fragile child.”

By now, it was lunch time.  I went to my 30 minute break, sat in my 12o degree car and cried.  I called the 877 number for Homeland Security’s Adoption Unit, and with my still teary voice, I left a message.  I called FPD and cried some more, telling him, yet again, that this process is for %$*& and if I EVER considered doing this again he should just shoot me.  He reminded me he’s heard that all before, likely in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  As I swore at him for being the honest soul that he is, my cell phone beeped with an incoming call.  It was our Officer.  She was getting a Supervisor and would call me back if they could do anything for us.  I apologized again for not checking the correct answer on question 41, and promised my first born if she allowed this to go through (sorry, I don’t have one, and never will, all my babies come through this insanity producing process).  She said she would try.  I then called FPD back and swore some more.  I hung up, and still in that 120 degree car, I waited, and blamed myself for delaying Poppy’s adoption by not understanding a process I’ve been through now four times prior to this.  A few minutes later my phone buzzed again with an incoming call from a private number.  I answered and our Officer told me that she would issue the approval, but that I would need to overnight a check with a tracking number, because they are only doing this because Poppy’s medical need is so severe.  I blubbered a thank you and went back into work.

I finished my shift and RAN to Fedex.  Our check will be received at the infamous lockbox, where all this started, on Tuesday morning.  We have come full circle, right to where we began.  I emailed the tracking number to our Officer to make sure that I am not the one who messes this up for the next family who checks box ’41’ incorrectly.  They trusted me, and were amazingly kind about a mistake that was ultimately totally mine.

Our approval is on its way to the National Visa Center who will then send a letter to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to let them know we’re coming.  They’ll issue a paper that says they are aware of our impending arrival and that Poppy’s adoption meets their rigorous ethical standards.  This paper will then go back to the Chinese office that processes adoptions.  Here’s where it gets dicey.  Usually, an adoptive family would then patiently wait the two to three weeks for that Chinese office to issue a travel approval and mail it to our side of the ocean.  ResponsiBoy and I aren’t waiting for that document.  As soon as we hear that final paper has left the U.S. Consulate and is on it’s last leg of the journey, we’re taking off on a wing and a prayer.  Our hope is that we’ll be able to pick up our Travel Approval (TA) at the main Chinese office that processes adoptions.  We’ve been told this will be fine, but somehow, these things they tend to get messed up.  So, there will be more stress to come, but our girl, she is so worth it.

–FullPlateMom, who hopes to leave on 9/11.

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