It feels like we can't catch a break in this adoption journey. We're hitting every hurdle and slowing down at every opportunity. ***If a step in the process normally takes 30-45 days we'd better plan on it taking 60+ for us.
Case in point for those of you not immersed in all things adoption, did you know that almost the entire international adoption process is still on paper? No electronic filing of anything. No scans. All applications, affidavits, supplements, are printed on paper on a forest of paper, signed, and depending on the document often notarized, state certified, federally certified, and internationally authenticated, and delivered to their proper recipients. The US government relies on USPS to deliver the most important notifications. It's costly, a waste of our resources and time consuming. And not for purses or even puppies, but for children that have already waited too long, like Ru that has already waited nearly 7 years.
Currently we are in the part of the adoption process where we are trying to confirm Ru's U.S. visa know as the I-800 application. He needs it before we can go get him so he can come home. Even after getting "pre-authorization" from the USCIS back in October, which took a little over a month, this part of the process is currently taking about 2 additional weeks. On week 5 of the wait (***see mention above where every step in our journey takes 2-3 times longer than it takes most) the USCIS, (who is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) was requesting that we provide additional documentation, in addition to the literal almost 1 pound of paperwork that I had already forwarded to the USCIS the month prior. The documentation the federal government was asking for was state legislation to prove that specific requirements for AZ adoption certification did not exist. (You analytical, left-brain types are already scratching your heads at that last statement, right?) Or any ol' official state documentation because evidently there was some ambiguity as to what they were looking for. Basically they wanted proof that something didn't exist... which makes it especially challenging to find something that 1-doesn't exist (Insert hair pulling here! I took logic as a college Freshman so I would know that one cannot prove the negative!) and 2-specifically define what it is they wanted. If this documentation cannot be found then they'd also accept a 3+ month state re-certification via court ruling, a process that doesn't even exist in the great state of AZ. If all of this is as clear as mud and you're only half following along at this point, you're not alone. Enter conference calls with 2 adoption agency directors, federal officials and Papa and me to figure this mess out. Meanwhile Ru waits.
I walked into my hair appointment with a good 1 1/2" of grey at my roots wearing sunglasses and asking for tissues... cell phone in hand on one of the many aforementioned conference calls. Note to self-crying on the phone with Federal officials is never a good idea. Susan has been doing my hair for 15 years now, through all the 4 adoptions. I figured she could see me at my worst. And she did. Maybe you need a visual at this point in the story. I'm in the stylist chair with the ever-flattering black cape, hair dye at my roots and black-painted eyebrow because I'm old enough that even my eye brown need to be dyed. I look like Gracho Marks minus the mustache. Susan is being as quiet as a mouse as she's doing me up and the cell phone is on speaker because I can't put the phone to my ear. Together we listen to officials and agency directors make their case, explain that one cannot prove the negative and the only alternative avenue doesn't exist.
Cell phone on speaker.
It was all quite the scene.
This is the reality of what adopting looks like in all it's literal and figurative ugliness.
In the end, 6 weeks into the normally 2 week process, yesterday we got word that USCIS is most likely going to approve our I-800 application next week, giving the official U.S. government's okie dokie that Ru can come home with us and will be a U.S. citizen as soon as he touches U.S. soil, which unceremoniously will be in LAX airport. The newest immigrant. Our son. I've had my share of melt down moments in this adoption so far, and I'm sure I'm not done with them yet. Adoption is beautiful, but it's born of loss and is full of hard stuff to which I'm far from being immune.
Thank you, Susan, for making my hair purdey in the midst of the hard stuff.
Thank you, Diana, for walking us through the crazy.
Thank you, Tess, who looked me dead in the eye and said, But didn't we already get permission to bring him home? which confirmed the lunacy.
Thank you, Mary, for being my adoption buddy through it all.
Thank you, Melissa and Kate, for being my besties with shoulder's I can cry on at any moment.
Thanks to Bob our mail carrier and the FedEx guy that handle the ridiculously crazy amount of papers and haven't lost or damaged any of them.
Thank you to my photography peeps, that provide me with wonderful distractions when my reality gets too hard.
Thank you, Papa, for being my rock and craving our new son as much as I am.
And last and most importantly, Ru, my soon-to-be son, thank you. Thank you for waiting. I promise you my sweet brave boy, that we're doing everything in our power to come get you as quickly as we can. I'd move mountains, jump from burning buildings or step in front of a moving car for you, son.
I cannot wait to teach you all about it!