Monday, July 27, 2015

"Ready," Set, Glitch

I never thought I would hate any word as much as I hate the word "Ready" right now. I've seen it so many times that the word has lost all meaning at this point. I would really love to banish the word from my vocabulary entirely, and I will just as soon as I find a suitable alternative (suggestions welcome). But I'm getting ahead of myself...

"Big Brother Whale is giving Baby Sister Whale a ride."
We received confirmation from ICAB of our formal match with Baby Girl Hicks on March 12, 2015, but we had no idea when the official documents--match certificate, birth certificate, medical records, etc.--that we needed to continue the adoption process would arrived in Houston. In international adoption, you have to get your "approval to adopt" renewed annually, and we were coming up on the expiration of our approval (end of April 2015). Since we had no idea when the documents would arrive, we started the process of getting our approval renewed. 

Because this was our second renewal, we had to submit all new documentation, new background checks, an all new home study, new finger prints: the works! Fortunately, our local agency handled the background checks, and we were able to get the documents gathered and schedule meetings with our social worker for the home study update really quickly. But that still left fingerprints which, if you've been following me all along, you know is quite the process.

And because nothing is ever simple, this time around Jake was away (again!) when his fingerprint appointment was scheduled (of course he was!) and we had to mail off for a new one. Fortunately, he was able to make the appointment the second time around. Additional bright side? At least this time he wasn't in Afghanistan, where the military police had to do paper fingerprint cards and mail them home, praying that they would (a) actually arrive, and (b) be accepted by USCIS.

Meanwhile, Baby's documents arrived in Houston on April 6, 2015. Read: we didn't actually need to jump through the renewal hoops after all because we filed before our old documents expired (!!). But we were already so far along, we completed the process anyway. 

As soon as the documents arrived, I got right to work. First, we had to fill out an I-800 petition to have Baby designated as our relative (i.e., our daughter) for immigration purposes. We also had to fill out an I-864 petition to prove that we could care for Baby (financially, medically, etc.). Between them, the two applications were well over 100 pages, but we managed to get them compiled, notarized, and sent off by April 10, 2015. Meanwhile, we also had to send information to ICAB so that they could apply for Baby's Filipino passport (still in the works at this point).

Both the renewal and the I-800 were approved on May 15, 2015, and on May 21, 2015, the State Department sent us a letter letting us know that Baby's application for a visa had been submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

I was thrilled! After three years of "hurry up and wait," we had made a ton of progress in a sixty-day period. I started thinking that maybe we would have Baby home this summer! Especially when I saw this:

Redacted by me because the internet
So, really exciting, right?!?

Sure. Until four days later when something caused the entire global visa system to glitch. For nearly a month, not a single visa could be issued. Anywhere. Well, you can imagine the backlog from a technology failure like that. In many parts of the word, including the Philippines, the issue is still not fully resolved.

I check the State Department system every day, and every day I get the same screen I've been seeing since June 5. So that's where we are now--"Ready."

"Ready?" READY?!?! Well, yeah! Ready...and about to pull our hair out that an entire immigration application process can take the same amount of time we've been waiting just to get a visa and actually bring our daughter home! do any kind of planning whatsoever for our family's process of going from a threesome to a foursome. know something--anything???--about what's going on, when this will resolve, and how our Baby is doing in the meantime. 

Does she know about us? Is she wondering where we are? It hurts my heart, but I kind of hope the former answer is "no," just so the latter is too! 

The past week, several of our friends who were also stuck in the "Ready" holding pattern saw movement on their files. It's so wonderful, and it's giving us hope that our file will be moving again soon, too. But in some ways, it also just makes me even more impatient with the "Ready."

If that's even possible. I guess we'll see when I check status tomorrow...

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