One of the families at our agency, who got a referral right before court closure in July, was notified on Monday that they had a court date on Friday, yesterday. I just got an email that they passed. How wonderful for them that after waiting all summer they could get a wonderful blessing like this so quickly? I am also thrilled they passed because they have said they will take some new photo's of our kiddo's for us and check in on them for me. Our little guy looks so sad in all his photo's. I really need someone to lay eyes on him and give me a report on how he is adjusting. That truly would be a blessing to this mama's heart.
Early last week I almost had a heart attack when I looked at our "golden ticket" which in the adoption world is your I-171H document issued by USCIS. The approval is good for 18 months, and you cannot adopt a child (from anywhere) without it. Ours was set to expire on October 10th, so when we requested that our age range be increased a few months ago I asked that they also give us our one time free extension on this document. This is a $650.00 piece of paper and believe me, no one wants to pay this fee twice.
Well, when I received our amended approval with our new age requests approved I must not have looked at the paper really carefully. This was during the time that we lost our first referral and emotions were running high. I had to copy our approval last week and when I looked closely at the document I realized they had not processed our extension. Just the age change. Our approval had EXPIRED. You cannot bring an orphan into this country without that approval! I FREAKED OUT!
Now, as I stated previously you are allowed a one time free extension if you request it BEFORE the expiration date. Ours was already more than a week over due. I wanted to cry, and I did.
I spoke with our social worker at our agency and she talked me down off the ledge. She said the approval has nothing to do with us getting a court date as it was current when we got our referral. However, we would not be able to travel to pick up the children until we got a new approval.
I called USCIS in Los Angeles and amazingly (thank you Lord!) actually got someone on the phone. I told him what had happened and how I was panicked we would not be able to travel and pick up our kids. He was very nice and told me to overnight our request for an extension and he would try and get it through without charging us the fee again.
However, there was one problem. Because our approval had lapsed we had to have our fingerprints redone by the state before our home study agency could give us an updated home study. Something we had to send with our new request.
So, I overnighted the documents to the officer I spoke with explaining that the home study update would follow soon. This all happened last week. We got an appointment for Monday morning to get our fingerprints redone and were in and out of the building in 25 minutes. The girl who took our prints said that results have been taking anywhere from 2-30 days to come back. Believe me I have been on my knee's praying for the two day turn around. Everything else is ready in our update, but they cannot give it to me until they receive news that we have not turned into wanted child molest*rs in the past 18 months.
Here is the real deal. Once I send our home study to USCIS they will process our request and then send us a new "golden ticket". However, they then need to cable our approval to the visa office in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. This can take a few weeks.
If we pass court and are given a Visa appointment in Addis before all this happens WE CANNOT TRAVEL. To say I am a little stressed over this fact would be a grave under statement. I don't want anything to stop us from getting our kids as soon as possible. I am so mad at myself for not looking at that piece of paper sooner, however, I am trying to show grace to myself for a change and not beat myself up to much.
The adoption process is a great faith builder. If God wants those children to be a part of this family he will take care of it. He is a big God and no "golden ticket" is going to stand in his way. Prayers would be appreciated for a speedy resolution to this paperwork glitch. We will get the approval, no doubt. I just want it to be quickly so we have no delays.