slide show

Monday, March 31, 2008

Please Help! It's easy.

Most of you have already heard my plea but for those who haven't, I'd like to ask an easy favor of you-

Could you please go to the following site and sign the petition? It basically says we ask our own United States gov't officials in VietNam to abide by Vietnamese law and respect and cooperate with the governing officials in VietNam. (Kinda sad to have to make this request, isn't it?!)
On the left click on "petition." EVERY adult member of your house can sign, or rather you can just sign your husband's name and tell him later, hehe.
After you click submit, it will ask for a donation..ignore that part. Your email signature is all that is needed.
Thank you thank you thank you!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

WAY outside the box!

Papa and I will have been invited to travel to DC next week with a group of adoptive parents and meet with VP Cheney to present some info. to him/his office. I HOPE all l have to do is stand there, but if I was given an opportunity, I'd chew his ear off! This is WAY outside my soccer-mom box! But we can't pass up this opportunity and hope it is a step in bringing about some change in what is an awful situation for so many.
No idea specifically what day next week, so we'll be scrambling last minute to get the kiddos taken care of.
I'll keep you posted as we know more.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's the Process? What's Next? And How Long?

This seems to be the question I am getting most so I'll give you the run down.
Part 1-There is a MOUNTAIN of paperwork that needs to be gathered, requested, paid for, filled out, mailed in, faxed, copied, filed, emailed, signed, witnessed, notarized, state authenticated, scanned, and FedExed. Step 1 in total took 5 months from Jan-May of '07.
  • DONE Fingerprinting for state police clearance
  • DONE Preapproval I-600a/I-171H received from USCIS took 3 months!
  • DONE Fingerprinting for FBI check
  • DONE Documents gathered for home study including marriage license, passports, reference letters, medical checks of all family members, employment letters, insurance checks, tax returns, birth certificates, biographies, home inspections, pool safety inspection, finance records, interviews of all family members, and many many others!
  • DONE Home study completed by licensed social worker 2-3 months
  • DONE State licensing received Spring '07
  • DONE Dossier to VN Consulate in San Francisco for authentication April '07
  • DONE Dossier forwarded to Hanoi, VN and translated May '07
  • DONE Dossier logged into VN Adoption Office (LID) Spring '07
Basically, after you have all your documents gathered, we had the LONG wait to first see the children we have been match with. Afterwards there are 2 more parts to the adoption process until we travel. Part 2 is the Vietnamese portion. When this part is complete the gov't of VietNam gives us permission to adopt Sunburn and Little Man. In Part 3 the United States Gov't gives us permission to bring Sunburn and Little Man home. Sorry for all the acronyms! For my adoption buddies, this process and timeline are specific to HCMC and our case.

Part 2-Vietnamese approval

  • DONE Documents for babies' dossiers are gathered 1-6 months/in HCMC done prior to CFC/in other provinces done after CFC
  • DONE Child for consideration (CFC) offered to potential adoptive parents (PAP) mid-Feb
  • DONE International adoption doctor reviewed medical info/pics/videos and consult
  • DONE Acceptance of CFC sent to VN Adoption Office
  • DONE Babies' dossiers gathered and matched with ours at VN Adoption Office 2 weeks-ish
  • DONE All docs (babies' & ours) are sent to VN Justice Dept in HCMC
  • IN PROCESS JD investigates and checks all documents 2 weeks-ish
  • The JD requests all the baby's documents to be forwarded from the orphanage
  • All documents are forwarded from JD to adoption agency
    At this point Part 3/I-600 application can be forwarded
  • All docs sent again to VN adoption office for final approval 4 weeks
  • Our adoption agency delivers all docs back to the JD in HCMC for final approval
  • JD calls agency to sign for the Giving & Receiving ceremony (G&R) 10 days to two weeks
  • G&R date set two weeks later

Part 3-United States Approval

  • PAP fills out I-600 application
  • Agency translates all docs to English, gathers and packages I-600 application, dossiers, and supporting documentation and courier's it to USCIS 1-2 weeks
  • USCIS gives receipt of application (sometimes no receipt is issued) few days-several weeks-sometimes never!
  • USCIS investigates and checks all documents up to 3+ months
  • USICS MAY require more time to investigate up to 3+ months more
  • USCIS emails approval of I-600
  • We hop on a plane to go gather up our sweeties and wrap them in our in love and arms and smother them in a zillion kisses! as FAST as we can

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dear Dick,

Today I wrote a letter to the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Boy, if that's not stepping out of my box, I don't know what is. After all, what does a plain ol' soccer mom have to tell the VP of the USA about?
Let me tell ya!
This week there is a group of families that will be meeting with Vice President Cheney in hopes of working towards a resolution. Our letter and many others from families just like us will be included. We hope that he will listen and look into what is currently going on with the USCIS and the US DOS in VietNam. We need for our government to stop assuming that every adoption is corrupt and needs to be investigated. What happened to the thought of innocent until proven guilty? In the USA we have legal ways to investigate crimes or unethical situations. US officials can't just barge into a hospital unannounced and ask to see a official records! Yet USCIS officials are doing exactly this. It is no wonder Vietnamese officials take offense and are refusing to cooperate with these investigations. This is only one example of the inappropriate way our officials are conducting their investigations. The actions of the United States government in the VietNam is an embarrassment to US citizens. I am ashamed by the conduct of officials that claim to represent a country I'm so proud to be a part of. Papa and I both forwarded letters to our reps, including AZ Senators McCain and Kyle. But now we're moving on to the the Vice President! Someone above the US government authorities in VN needs to step in to oversee the unbecoming conduct of these US officials.
Here are some excepts for my letter to Dick. I tried to focus on the issues of the stalemate of the hospital investigations in HCMC and how special need's children, like our beautiful little man, are forced to unnecessarily languish in orphanages while their disabilities are compounding as time passes. I have substituded "Little Man" with his real name below.

March 25, 2008

Currently, we have been matched with a special need's baby boy from HCMC, who was born in the Tu Du OBGYN Hospital. His name is "Little Man." Currently he is in an orphanage in HCMC. This beautiful baby was born with a deformity. Our doctor in the United States firmly states that it is the best interest of this baby to come to the United States as soon as possible for treatment of his condition. Each week that passes without continued treatment for "Little Man" leads to additional difficulties in correcting his special need and possible disabilities that may last his lifetime.

"Little Man" and children are being held captive to this process not due to fraud, but due to poor diplomacy and apathy towards children born in the Tu Du maternity hospital from our government officials in VietNam. We do believe it important for the USCIS to protect the orphans of VietNam by conducting investigations when there are suspicions of fraud. But the USCIS MUST respect Vietnamese authorities and conduct these investigations using the agreed upon protocol. We are confident that the majority of cases from the Tu Du hospital are above board and that these children are legitimate orphans as the Vietnamese government has already declared, yet all PAPs and orphans are being penalized. Children are being forced to languish in orphanages unnecessarily. The USCIS is demanding "unencumbered" independent investigations from this hospital (and investigations in other provinces) while no other country involved in international adoptions with the United States allows this. It is an unreasonable demand for the USCIS to make and beyond normal diplomacy.

We agree that both sides have made errors, the Vietnamese authorities have failed to prevent adoption corruption in a minority of cases. However the DOS has compounded the problem by not following agreed upon protocol and disrespecting the DIA, provincial officials, and hospitals administrators. The USCIS should lead by example and follow the guidelines that it originally agreed to.

Unless the US government finds a solution to the above problem, "Little Man" and many other babies that had the unfortunate circumstance of being born and abandoned in the Tu Du hospital, will be forced to unnecessarily languish in an orphanage and possibly never come home to a forever family. The children caught in the middle deserve due diligence.

We urge you to please address and correct the problem. The USCIS officials in VietNam should not be able to single handedly stop all adoptions proceeding from the Tu Du OBGYN Hospital without just cause. The USCIS must be required to follow the investigative protocol and need supervision to ensure that they do. Cases must not be presumed guilty or fraudulent until proven innocent.

Please help us bring "Little Man" home to the United States as soon as possible to undergo treatment for his special needs before additional lasting and debilitating affects take place.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

USCIS vs HCMC Hospital part II

This is the now infamous letter that families adopting children born at this specific HCMC hospital have been getting. To be clear... we have NOT received this letter because it is too soon for us to apply for our I-600. But if this issue is not resolved soon, we expect to receive it. We anticipate sending our I-600 application to the USCIS in the next month.
Dear Mr./Ms. XYZ,,
The USCIS office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is in the process of reviewing your Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative(Form I-600), to determine whether the child qualifies as an orphan under US immigration law.Please be advised that Tu Du maternity hospital administrators and Vietnamese officials have prevented the U.S. Government from conducting an inquiry into the status of the child identified in your petition.This interference will add significant time to the processing of your case while the U.S. Government seeks to resolve the problem or find alternative ways to conduct its inquiry. You should know that this interference could result in a determination that the child may not be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. as an adopted child.
In all cases, USCIS strongly recommends that you do not travel to Vietnam until USCIS has provided notification to you that the child qualifies as an orphan. Traveling to Vietnam prior to getting this notice from USCIS will not advantage or prioritize your case, and may result in a prolonged stay in Vietnam. The USCIS office in Ho Chi Minh City will provide you with an update on the status of your casein 60 working days.If you do not wish to wait until such time as the Vietnamese authorities allow the U.S. to proceed with a field inquiry in your case, you may request a final decision on your petition based upon the incomplete record. Please note that this may result in a denial of your petition.
Alternatively, you may wish to consult with your adoption services provider or attorney to consider the other options that are available in your particular case, including, but not limited to, withdrawing your petition, filing a new Form I-600 after identifying another child for adoption, filing a new Form I-600A and selecting a different country, or filing a written request for a change of country with USCIS. Please note that these options may require a new or updated home study and/or incur additional fees.

Monday, March 17, 2008

USCIS vs HCMC Hospital

I can travel alone internationally with 5 children (which I did this spring break to this glorious beach!) but can not fathom how we ended up in the middle of this mess that is VietNam adoption.
The USCIS is the US govt agency in VietNam that conducts final investigations before an adoption is final. The USCIS is now having serious issues with the maternity hospital that our babies were born in. This HCMC hospital in turn is denying any access to the USCIS to be able to complete these investigations. We think that maybe the US govt, as it has in many other provinces and orphanages, is improperly conducting these investigative visits to the hospital by not announcing itself and without the special permission required by the VietNam govt. To do this investigation ANY other way is illegal under Vietnamese law and would explain why the hospital would deny the USCIS access. Our agency says that officials are working to mediate between the HCMC hospital and the USCIS. We are hopeful that by the time we get to the step of the process where our case needs to be investigated by the USCIS, this issue will be resolved.
I'm not sure I can even explain or wrap my head around this mess.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The details...

You may be completely surprised to hear that we are adopting 2 children! Surprise! Yes, that would make us parents of 6 kiddos! We are blessed to have been entrusted to raise and parent each of these wonderful children. The longer we thought about it, the more it made sense for them.

Let me give you a few more details about these incredibly cute babies that I can't stop looking at! Our sweet boy and baby girl curretnly are in HCMC, VN (Siagon) in the same orphanage, and in the same "baby room," being cared for by the same nannies. They were both born in August four weeks apart. Both were abandoned right after their birth at the hospital and remained in the hospital for approx 7 weeks before being transferred to the same orphanage. Both are cute as a button and in dire need of this mama's kisses and hugs and lots of lovin'.

Both of these beautiful children finally came available for adoption just after Tet, in mid-February. There were several issues that needed to be discussed with doctors, and we finally accepted the children in early March. We were so lucky to receive many photos of the babies at both 5 and 6 months and a short video clip of both in the orphanage at approx. 6 months old.
The little man is older by 4 weeks, and his face is full of character. He smiles and grins in most of his photos. His smile is contagious and a find myself grinning back when I look at his pictures. He is truly a beautiful baby, but maybe I'm already biased. The nannies at the orphanage report that he is extremely easy going and easily smiles when someone is around. The photos are obvious evidence of this, and in the video he gives his nanny a big gummy grin when he looks at her. He looks strong and raises his head and looks around and smiles in the video.
The sweet baby girl is definitely smaller than him. She has big beautiful brown eyes. Papa remarked that her eyes seem to look right through you. She has beautiful full Vietnamese lips. She is not nearly as animated as him, but also strong and alert. Strangely, the two have similar facial characteristics, except her complexion is a little darker than his. The nannies at the orphanage have affectionately nic-named her "Sunburn." I've been assured that the Vietnamese are a very literal people, and this is definitely a term of endearment. To them, she looks as if she has had too much sun. We suspect she may have a bit of Cambodian blood in her. She is beautiful. But with a giggle and love, we've now started calling her Sunburn too.
The current state of adoptions between the US and VietNam is in transition. VietNam looks as though it will be closing for adoption to US families. We are adopting these beautiful children in the middle of a very tumultuous time, and we will never assume to know what tomorrow will hold. We hope that we will be able to travel to get them around their 1st birthdays, approximately 6 months from now. We will continue to pray that these children come home to us to be wrapped in the love of a family that yearns to be united with them. And we will pray for all the all the orphans in VietNam that they be untied with forever families soon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

They're Here!

Announcing our little man!
It's a boy! From HCMC, VN
7 months old and 15 lb 3 oz
In the same orphanage
A sweet baby girl!
6 months old 12 lbs 1/2 oz
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