Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Months - We're Getting Closer!

Three months ago, I had a crazy morning (mostly caused by the dog) that came to a screeching halt when I received the call that forever changed my life.

This morning, I was having a crazy morning (again, mostly caused by the dog), but this time I had plenty of “Francis-stuff” thrown in for good measure.  The window installer came over to replace the window in Francis’ bedroom.  I spent the greater part of the morning trying to figure out exactly when the I-800 approval should be in my mailbox.  And then determining that yes, it should be today.  Or was it yesterday?  Or maybe tomorrow.  No, today.  All these years into an adoption that I’ve clearly had no control over, and I still haven’t learned to let go and release the control.

I sent good I-800 vibes to my mailbox.  Then the mailman came, and what did I do?  I ambushed the poor man.  Yeah, ran out there and stalked him.  And what did he give me in return?  Junk mail.  Thanks for nothing.  He told me to come back and keep him company again while he fills the boxes tomorrow. 

I had read online about China APs calling USCIS to check on the status of their I-800s after two weeks.  I decided to bite.  I spoke with the loveliest USCIS agent ever.  Really, I had to luck out in that department. 

“Congratulations!  Your I-800 was approved last Friday!”

It was that easy.  Hopefully the official document will be in the mailbox tomorrow, and NVC should have their paperwork by Friday.  Hopefully NVC will forward the approval to the Embassy in Manilla by the beginning of July, and we’ll be well on our way to getting Francis a Visa and bringing him home.   

Three months waiting for you today, little man, and I’d be on a plane to get you right now if I could.  Our hearts and our home are ready for you!  We love you and we can’t wait to show you just how much!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ICPC – The Step Nobody Talks About

After the massively long wait for a referral, I promised that I wasn’t going to complain about the wait to travel.  And I’m still not going to complain about the wait to travel.  But the past few days, I was starting to be on edge about a few little letters – ICPC (the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).  If you remember from this post, our criminal clearances had expired the week before the paperwork was to be sent off to ICPC, even though the homestudy was valid until the end of June.  We just needed to clear ICPC and then we could submit our I-800 and all those fun documents (We also have an I-800 supplement 3 going in as well as the I-864 and I-864A. Our family is trying so hard not to be confused as they follow along). 

It took three weeks to get our criminal clearances back.  I drove them to our agency’s office about 15 minutes after I pulled the last one out of the mailbox.  The next day, they put the information in the mail for ICPC. 

Let me tell you, I can be slightly obsessive these days when it comes to finding out exactly how long something should take to do.  I’ve been pretty on the ball.  I don’t want to lose any more time.  The one thing I couldn’t figure out?  How long ICPC was really taking in Pennsylvania.  I was told to expect two weeks.  I refused to believe it would take that long.  I was seeing online that domestic adoptions were clearing Pennsylvania within 48 hours – why would it take an international adoption two weeks?  I couldn’t find an answer.

My agitation rose yesterday, and hit its peak by noon today.  At 1:00, I finally called the program coordinator and told her I was panicking about ICPC.  I think she knew by the tone of my voice I wasn’t kidding, because she offered immediately to call and see what the holdup was.  I told her that wasn’t really why I was calling – I wanted to know if the homestudy couldn’t expire by the time it hit the desk at USCIS or if it had to be fully approved before it could expire.  She reassured me that since our fingerprints were good until November, the homestudy was fine with USCIS – ICPC was the only one that needed a timely homestudy, and we were fine with that.  I felt much more relaxed.

At 2:30, the mail came.  And in the mail?  Yup.  Our letter from ICPC.  Just in case you were wondering?  It took 48 hours to clear ICPC – and then 4 days from the date of the letter until the day we received it.  At the same time I got my letter, the program coordinator got her letter.  They put together the packet for USCIS, and that’s going out in tomorrow’s mail.

PHEW.  The step that nobody talks about has been the biggest paperwork pain in the @$$ so far.  One giant step forward to the day I get to hug my baby!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Honey, Is There Something You Need?

Francis is everywhere in our home.  His picture not only is the wallpaper on my computer, but it’s also the screensaver.  There are beautiful 8x10 pictures of him smiling (dimples and all!) in the living room and a gorgeous 5x7 of him with a particularly devilish grin.  My brag book full of pictures is never more than about four feet away from me, and – oh – did you say you haven’t seen the pictures yet?  Then yes, you’re in luck, you can see them right now!  Gregg also has our little man gracing his computer at work – and the screensaver, his phone, and I think there’s one on his cubicle wall for good measure.  Obsessed?  No.  Head over heels in love with this child already?  Yes. 

I just caved to Gregg’s incredible talents of persuasion and we got a tablet.  Because 22 hours on a plane is a long time to keep a six-year-old entertained, and there’s a weight limit on the carryons.  Friday night, we were looking up some child-friendly, educational but fun at the same time apps to download, and Gregg got the idea that we should change the wallpaper on this little “i” device.  Guess who’s on that wallpaper now?

Soon after the picture came up, I got this crazy feeling in my chest and my arms.  “Francis needs a hug,” I said to Gregg.  “He needs a hug right now.  It was 9:00 in the morning, Philippines time.  I don’t know what brought it on, and I haven’t had that feeling ever before.  Oddly, I couldn’t shake the feeling all weekend that something was up with him.  I still don’t know what it is, and I wish I could figure it out.  I know he’s being well cared for, but I just couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he needed us for something this weekend.  Was he not feeling well?  Was he wondering if we were still coming to get him?  Did he have a fight with his friend?  Going to bed last night, I wondered if I figured out what it might have been.  It is the first Monday in June.  School should be starting any day now – maybe this was the first day of school.  If it was, this was my baby’s first day of Kindergarten – and I missed it.  Moms are supposed to send their kids off to their first day of Kindergarten with a hug, and I couldn’t.  Is he wondering how long he’ll be in school before we come to get him?

I sent a request today to see if we can mail him a letter at some point before we go.  I want him to know we’re still coming for him, and he is still loved – much more than he may realize!