Posts Tagged ‘USCIS’

Good Times with USCIS

June 3, 2009

Up until 6:00 p.m., today was quite frustrating.  Our VERY important paper from the USCIS that extends the approval our international adoption, the I171-H, has not arrived.  I did my part, but I really should have been on this MONTHS ago. I didn’t realize it was tardy as life got busy as per usual.  Our original I171-H expired in Feb., but in Jan. I sent in the request for the extension.  I did get an I171-H back, but it simply stated that our fingerprints were OK’d for another year and didn’t mention our approval date.  (I still can’t figure out how fingerprints expire???) Our case worker from Texas has been on this for more than a month but getting through to the Phoenix Field Office is like cracking the BIG case.  They do not answer the regular phone… you just leave a message.  They do not return phone calls in any mannerly fashion at all.  It is highly frustrating.

So I took the bull by the horns and drove downtown to the CIS office.  The bull was hiding behind a skinny, little door guard that wouldn’t even LET ME IN!  I explained that I needed to talk to someone inside about our adoption case.  He calmly explained (somewhat mockingly) that I had to make an appointment to get through the untouchable door.  I almost calmly explained that the CIS people do not answer their phone, so HOW COULD I GET AN APPOINTMENT?????   He handed me a brochure IN SPANISH that gave the website where I could set up an appointment to drive all the way back downtown and pay $5 to park AGAIN to talk to a human being behind the forbidden door.  I explained to the little man that the CIS office has deplorable customer service.  He calmly explained that I could let them know how I feel by following the directions on the pamphlet that he gave me.  I said, “IT’S IN SPANISH!”  I could have easily picked him up and swung him around over my head, but I didn’t want to make a scene… and it was 109 degrees today and that would’ve made me all sweaty.  So I left with some dignity intact.

When I arrived home, I whipped out my Spanish paper and went to make an appointment so I could go see the little man for a second time.  Well, seems you have to have a case number to make an appointment.  Adoption approvals don’t have case numbers.  I couldn’t even make an appointment.  I called the 1-800 number and talked to three people who could barely speak English all working for USCIS, who informed me that adoptions are only handled at the field offices.  I asked if anyone knew how I could talk to someone in the Phoenix office and all I got was an email address.  Someone would get back to me in 48 hours.  I emailed our dilemma and went to the kitchen to make dinner.

Rick arrived in the kitchen at that point and I explained how LAME our government offices are… in detail while the steam fumed from my ears.  I couldn’t even leave a complaint on the website without a case number.  Fried chicken and sliced potatoes kept my attention diverted for a while.  Then at 6:00 p.m. the phone rang.  Rick answered and started waving his arm at me while saying, “I think you need to talk to my wife.”  Unbelievably, it was an extremely intelligent, English speaking, kind-hearted woman from the Phoenix CIS Field Office.  She apologized profusely about the delay in our I171-H form.  She explained that she was moved to another office, but saw my email and checked on it herself.  She said it must have been put in…. (she hesitated and stammered)…  “Not the circular file?” I asked.  She laughed and thankfully said no.  Apparently I dotted every i and crossed every t to perfection but the form was not sent in reply.  She will mail out my form in the morning.  THEN she gave me her name and direct number in case I needed any help from CIS again.  I’m sure she was an angel.  I think she may be getting her wings for this act of kindness.  Thank you, kind angel.

No More Hot Wheels under the Purple Bed!

November 7, 2008

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of, dream about, pray for and long to hug and kiss our little Zaza who is STILL in Colombia waiting for us.  Nov. 7th officially marks our 9th month of waiting for our adoption referral.  When we initially heard 2 to 30 months….. we hoped and prayed it would be closer to the 2.  Well there’s still five months to go on the “closer” side. 

The Colombian courts close from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, much to this adoptive mom’s chagrin.  When we do receive the referral, we get the profile checked out by a pediatrician familiar with international adoption and the we give our answer.  (YES!… duh!)  Then we travel within two weeks.  So FAST, it’s scary.  The clincher is that depending upon which region Zaza is living in, we could stay from 4 to 8 weeks in Colombia.  It’s all up to the courts. 

Sadly, there is now not enough time before their Christmas break to fit in the 2 weeks plus 4-8 weeks.  So it’ll be 2009 when we meet our girl.  Yes, we started this whole deal in 2006…….  I can’t say that waiting makes it sweeter… just longer.

Anyway, we’ve been in process so long that our USCIS approval needs and extension and an update to our homestudy.  Since our agency closed a few months back, we had to find a new social worker in AZ who is Hague compliant.  (Hague is the new international regulators/rule makers for adoptions.)  So this Saturday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. we meet our new case worker and she tours Zaza’s prospective home.  Not a big deal if you keep your house clean and tidy all the time.  BIG HAIRY DEAL if you only keep the downstairs clean and tidy.

Zaza’s room is ready for her…. has been since January.  The walls are painted yellow.  Her vintage, wooden, carved canopy bed from Auntie Connie is painted purple.  The ribbon-encircled lamp is glowing on her curvy, vintage dresser from Auntie Julie.  The lavender butterfly rug from Auntie Donna is snug by the bed.  The blue turtle from Auntie Jill is sitting on the shelf.  The Beatrix Potter book from Auntie Darla is sitting next to the blue turtle on the shelf.  There are even frilly dresses on pink hangers hanging in her closet from Auntie Jilly too.  Just last week Mom and I found a darling, carved wood, two-drawer bedside table… from Grandma.  I still need to repaint it and find knobs, but I had to run up and put it in there to envision Zaza opening the drawers to hide her treasures.

However, our son Keeve decided to keep the bed warm until Zaza gets here.  So, with the 2:00 visit only 48 hours away, Keeve and I cleaned up the Hot Wheel tracks, rolled up the city road rug, put G.I. Joe back in his box, and put Lightning McQueen in the garage sale pile.  It looks like a girly-girl room again and there are officially no more Hot Wheels under the purple bed.  Whew.