Tonight, Emily is speechless. Astonishing, you say! Well it’s true, so here I am, the quiet guy writing our entry for the day. She had already brainstormed the whole intro to today’s blog (didn’t know we put so much thought into it, eh?), hence the title above. I tried my hand at duplicating what we talked about last night, but I ain’t no writer. Get me talking about the economy, the markets, or even specific stocks and I’ll talk your ear off. (Now I’m not actually that one-sided, but you get my drift, I hope). Actually, it’s not so much that she’s speechless, but rather, she’s had her ear glued to the phone all evening as everything was turned on its head about six hours ago.
This morning, I woke up weepy and frantically hopeful. The thought of having to leave Emily behind to sort things out and have to face the embassy interview by herself has been horrible to accept. I slept quite restlessly last night and every moment I awoke and turned over, I would say a quick prayer that we would somehow get a call from Abebe with the news that our fingerprints were here and we could go in for our interview today. The morning passed with no call.
I finally couldn’t stand it anymore so I called him. Emily didn’t elaborate but last night in her post, but Abebe called us with a question from the embassy about whether we had done an addendum to our home study since we initially thought we would be getting younger children. The addendum that Emily actually learned about on her own and had the presence of mind to ask our agency about modifies our initial approval to allow us to adopt an older child. Luckily, we had it and had brought it with us as we understood. We were thrilled to have finally done something right it seemed.
Anyway, in my call to Abebe after lunch, I asked if he had called the embassy with the news that we had brought the addendum to our home study with us. He said in his overly confident tone, that No, he hadn’t called the embassy but that they knew we had the form and the minute he hears from the embassy he’ll call us. Now wait a second. HOW does the embassy know we have the addendum here if you haven’t called them??? They called just last night enquiring whether we had the form, so the rational thing to do is call them back and give them the answer. This is the system we feel trapped in, advocates who should be on our side, proactively calling on our behalf but …. We’ve learned not to push Abebe because he can turn the rude on really fast, so I thanked him and went back to composing a talk in my mind about unanswered prayers.
As I watched the cell phone today, hoping it would ring at any second, it never did. Just like that watched pot that never boils. At about 4:45 pm, Abebe called and as I fumbled with the phone, it was all I could do to answer it. We had a poor connection (yes, it happens even in the country, not just with all your overseas calls) but the gist of the conversation was that he had just received a call from the embassy asking about our home study addendum (see above paragraph!!) and when he told them we had brought it with us, they apparently said that was all wrong. Forget the fingerprints, even if they come in, things are so fouled up since the addendum wasn’t processed correctly by our agency that there is no way to complete the adoption now. WHAT?!?!
We went into high gear, gob smacked by this development. We started calling the US and spent the next four hours racing to make some copies of this notarized document, then gave a copy to another adoptive mother Abebe put us in contact with who is returning to the States tonight to give to our agency. We spent significant time on the phone while we were in the city center having dinner, a lucky thing since we get better cell coverage there. Long story short, our Senator’s office pulled significant strings and Ralph and his assistant, Carol, have leapt the tallest building ever in a single bound. As we were pulling away from dinner, Carol called us and asked if we could send her a scanned copy of the addendum and they would work that through the system.
Now take a step back here. That seems like a simple request, but imagine where would you go to get a document scanned in an ‘un’- developing country like Ethiopia after 8 p.m.? Carol said a fax might work but obviously who knows what clarity the phone lines around here would carry as anyone who has tried to call us will attest to. Well, we go back to the phenomenal people here at the guest home where we have stayed. Our driver, Gecho, drove us to an internet café where we found a scanner! As they rebooted the computer twice to see if they could get it working, a lone cockroach ran around on the desk and no one seemed concerned about it but me. As Emily navigated a bathroom stop with all the kids and no toilet paper (but this time, the toilet did have a seat), I eventually got the pages scanned and sent off.
The path they took from Carol’s hands from there is amazing. Truly, nothing short of a miracle as they passed from our agency’s hands (where it apparently needs to originate) to the USCIS (Immigration Services) where the document received some stamp of approval and then on to the National Visa Center. Without Carol and our Senator’s aide, this would have all been required to be in hard copy form and could have easily taken a few weeks. Apparently, the National Visa Center has even agreed to send the form on to the Ethiopian embassy so they’ll have it there in the morning.
Now, have no guarantees that all these Herculean efforts by so many people on our behalf will lead to anything tomorrow. There’s still that pesky issue of fingerprints floating around out there somewhere that apparently need to be approved, as if my fingerprints have changed from 15 months ago! Then there’s the fact the embassy said it takes two days to issue a visa or next day turnaround for a Thursday application. But on Friday, when the embassy is only open half a day, I can’t imagine they would come in on Saturday for us. Nonetheless, we are holding on to the glimmer of hope we feel at this point, as so many people, some of whom we don’t even know, have rekindled our tired lamps that the winds of daily discouragements had nearly blown out.
We have decided that the only possible way this might work is if we go to the embassy in the morning, hoping that things have made their way to them and they will grant us the exception of a same-day interview. Further, if they can somehow issue a visa for our girls before our Saturday night flights, we can stay together as a family. Otherwise, we face the difficult task of splitting up so as not to incur as many further costs from what has already been a very costly, especially emotionally, journey to get to this point.
Signing off for now,