And when I say HOMEstretch – I mean HOME. as in ‘Merica. Home home on the range. Well, a home with a gas range, we’ll allow that much! 😉
It’s been a really rough emotional past 2 weeks waiting for this darn USCIS approval – If you’re connected with our family’s adoption FB page, you saw the hairy prayer request pop up on Monday morning. I checked in with USCIS last Friday afternoon, politely asking for an update on our file, and Monday morning first thing, I received a reply that politely informed me that our file was in processing, but we had neglected to turn in the “minutes from the judge of the children” and that they couldn’t complete our file without that document. My stomach about dropped to my left pinky toe (all the way at the end) and all my worst fears started bubbling up – stories of families stuck in a cycle of missing documents, months of sitting waiting for documents to be found, signed turned in, only to be reported missing again. The first thing I did was text my Bible Study small group and ask for immediate prayer. The texts that poured in over the next hour and then the messages following from others as I spread the word to pray for this document to be found was absolutely INSANE, people. The prickling sensation of God working and moving around us was palpable, and the events that followed felt pretty darn miraculous. When I got ahold of our agency, they contacted the orphanage reps, who confirmed that the documents had been delivered (and had date/time stamped receipt as proof) to USCIS 3 weeks prior. I then was tasked with the job of attempting to call USCIS in Haiti to try to convince someone to help me. The first thing I learned about calling USCIS was that there are more extensions to “try” than I have fingers. If one extension doesn’t work, you try another. If that doesn’t work just keep going down the line. Sometimes they answer and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they will say they can’t help you, sometimes you get passed around to multiple people until someone finally says the person that can help you is not available. Really, you just never know.
Miracle #1. The first time I called, the first extension I tried…someone answered. Okay, encouraging. Unfortunately, they told me no one could help me right now and to call back at 2pm. (they have “call acceptance hours” for i-600 petitions each day that consist of 2pm – 3pm M-F – yes. that is only one hour, not a typo)
Miracle #2. At 2pm on the dot, I called back. Same extension…someone answered. Granted, she couldn’t help me…and said the systems were all still down (they went down on Friday) and no one could access my computer files, so she would take my phone number and someone would call me back when they could help me. I gave her my number, but didn’t expect a call.
Miracle #3. 20 minutes later, I called back – same number, same extension, praying that someone would answer who could help me. Someone answered…the someone who happened to be the Field Officer for the entire office, most knowledgeable, most kind, most helpful. She listened to my story about the notice of missing document, said document having been turned in already, and communicated to me that the computers were down so she couldn’t check on my electronic file. However, she said, she would walk over to the other officer’s desk who signed for the documents (listed on the receipt) and ask her to check the physical files for the missing documents. She took my phone number and said someone would call me when they had further information.
Miracle #4. an hour later, I received a call from USCIS Haiti office. An angel on the other end of the world told me that they were so sorry for the inconvenience but they found the missing document, it had come in but had not been attached to our file. They would finish processing the file and it would be completed shortly.
Miracle #5. I didn’t start screaming or bawling on the phone. But I did thank her profusely after yelling out “Oh thank you, JESUS!” to which she mustered an awkward laugh… haha! Just spreading the light, everyone – one USCIS officer at a time.
Crisis averted, missing document found and replaced with our file – HUGE emotional rollercoaster came to stop for the day.
Next problem was…if the file was almost complete, when would we receive our USCIS approval email? We’ve waited so long, and each day is the “will it be today”? and every 30 seconds my fingers do a routine swipe down on my email inbox, waiting for a blue dot signifying a new message.
Thank the LORD we didn’t have to wait through the holiday weekend! This morning at 9:34am, we received our coveted USCIS approval! This gives him access to the Consular office, and gets him approved for a Visa appointment!
Normally, about 2 hours to 2 days later, we get emailed notice of a scheduled Visa appointment that a rep attends in Haiti on our behalf.
We received our emailed appointment 2 hours later! It is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 7:30am! Can this get any better?
So, process goes you receive a visa appointment date, but the child has to get a medical exam between the email and the appointment date. This is to test for communicable diseases like TB, etc. that have to be treated prior to entering the US. When you receive the date, the creche schedules a medical appointment for the child to be done prior to the visa appt. However, ideally it has to be timed so that the results of the TB draw can be read 2-3 days after. AMAZINGLY – his medical is able to take place tomorrow! and waiting out the weekend will give it the right amount of time to take a read of the results on Monday, then Visa appt is Tuesday! The doc will have to write a report, and sometimes that has been taking several days to get that turned around. We can’t get an actual visa issued until that doc report is in.
All that to say – we will be waiting out the week here at home, while the medical and visa appt take place, and while the doc is writing up the report. We are hoping to travel NEXT WEEKEND to pick this kiddo up! Our travel dates will be nailed down over the holiday weekend, and then we’ll be in twiddle-our-thumbs mode for a week 🙂
I cannot tell you how relieved we are to have received this approval! This means he is coming home – FINALLY. Also a cool thought – the week we are traveling, is one year exactly from the day we first traveled to Haiti, and first met our little man that we’d been praying for for 3 years! Incredible.
I am completely blown away by God’s grace, His provision, His love and design, and His intervention in this process. Our kids have all seen firsthand the way that He loves our family, and little Wesley, but even more so than that – they have seen friends and family rally around us in prayer in a way that brings them to tears. We cannot ignore His direction, His prompting, and His perfect placement of people in our path and walking alongside us who consistently lay our family at His feet in prayer.
To those of you who are those people – you know who you are, even if we don’t! – we need you to know how important you are to us, how thankful we are for your friendship, for your love and dedication, for your perseverance on our behalf, for your faithful encouragement in both the joys and the pains of this “childbirth”!
It’s the homestretch – the HOME stretch. His room is waiting, his booster seat is waiting, his sports water bottle that he’s used every time we visited Haiti is waiting. His Captain America action figure is waiting, his doggies are waiting, his new friends and family are waiting! His grass and sprinklers, flowers and bugs are waiting to be discovered, his new jammies are waiting to be snuggled, and his stuffed Lion (lee-yohn) is waiting to snuffle him to sleep.
His neighbors are waiting, his bike is waiting, his little tennis shoes are waiting. His ironman toothbrush and his neon yellow jacket are waiting. His mommy and his daddy are waiting.
His entire new world is waiting – holding their breath – for his little feet to slide down that escalator into view at baggage claim.
We. Can’t. Wait.
Here’s to miracles, here’s to friends and loved ones, to change and to new beginnings –
More coming soon – we’ll update with travel plans!