Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The nearly un-crackable email

So, as I suspected we didn't get the approval letter in the mail by the date the USCIS officer anticipated we would - so I called to let him know (like he instructed me to). He agreed to email me a copy (thank freaking goodness), but he let me know that they are required to encrypt their emails and then send a separate email with a password to unlock it. I'll just skip to the end of the drama and say that after an hour of googling how to do this and attempting to open it we were finally able to open it. Mark had to download a program that would process it and open a prompt for us to put in the password. So! We got the blessed approval letter that we needed Chareyl to take down for our file! Praise the good Lord.

We were able to bring the approval letter to Chareyl's home (along with letter/pictures for Nelie, the little girl who we have the pleasure of sponsoring her education with Haitian Roots). Chareyl left for Haiti today and promised to follow up on our file (and each of the other families who are waiting for a referral). She did mention to me that she did receive a referral for another one of her clients that very morning! Not only does that make me happy for that family, but it is encouraging to me to see that referrals are being issued. Things have been a bit quiet on that front on the message boards.

The other thing that Chareyl told me tempered my prior frustrations with our previous email situation. Apparently Chareyl has a family who have a match ready for official referral, but they are waiting on the updated I-800a (just like we were). They needed Chareyl to take it down with her when she left, but it hadn't arrived in the mail. When they called to ask about having it emailed to them they said that they absolutely could not email it. I obviously don't know all the details about this situation...and perhaps USCIS was only willing to do this for me because I had to have things re-done because of their mistake, but either way I feel extra grateful that she has ours in hand. I'm sure this family will get theirs in the mail and be able to scan it to Chareyl to print in Haiti and it will work out, but it's just nice to know that ours is handed off and will for sure be updated in the next day or two.

I try not to hold my breath, but I'm hopeful that Chareyl will come home from Haiti with some sort of news for us on our file. I'm hopeful that we are close to seeing our daughters face. Not holding my breath of course, but hopeful.

In the meantime I'll be anxiously awaiting photos from Haiti while Chareyl and the Haitian Roots volunteer trip are down there. Knowing that some of these photos will be from the orphanage where our little girl is living...and that they are all being taken from that beautiful, heartbreaking island of her birth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"All the wrong reasons"

Confession. I have a guilty pleasure. I watch the Bachelor. I know it's lame, but somehow brainlessly addicting. If you've ever seen the show you know the phrase "all the right reasons" (or "for the wrong reasons") is annoyingly over-used. So, in that vein I thought I'd use it here.

I've been losing sleep about the latest tiny step in our adoption process (getting our updated I800a approval in time to send to Haiti). Crying about it. Sometimes short tempered because of it. I realized recently that I was doing these things for "all the wrong reasons". I'm not really freaked out to tears specifically about if I'll get that document in time, or that if I don't that our entire adoption could be affected...I'm freaking out because I'm just tired. Tired of years of collective disappointments. Emotional about such an extended period of lack of control over something so important. Overwhelmed at knowing that 4 years and 4 months into the process I still don't know our child's face...and that once we finally do that we'll still have a heart-wrenchingly long journey ahead of us.

On Saturday we received our updated I800a approval letter in the mail. Hurray, right? I thought so. Then I decided to just read through everything to double check it (wouldn't be the first time I found an error in a government document during this adoption). Sure enough. The officer approving our document made a change/typo that could have caused real problems. Of course I couldn't do anything about it on Saturday and knew I'd have to wait until Monday to call about it (and hope they could get it fixed and back to me before Chareyl leaves for Haiti on the 15th). I was shaking and trying not to cry. Mark wasn't reachable, so I walked next door to vent to my dear friend Sydnie. She kindly listened to my frustrations and we talked through scenarios of how this could still work out. And I realized that I didn't like not having control over getting this document done properly now, but that I did know that it would indeed get done and all work out...and that somehow didn't help me feel better.

It was then that I realized that I was getting all freaked out/emotional over this document for all the wrong reasons. I wasn't really upset about this document - it was just representing years of collective disappointments, frustrations, hiccups, change-of-plans, and lack of control over this difficult journey. I realized that then and verbalized it - I'm just tired. This is such a long, difficult process. I know it will work out, and I know it will be worth it in the end. I just want to at least be to the next concrete step closer to being done and having her home.

Somehow recognizing that I was putting all those years of emotions into frustration with this one tiny step helped me worry a little less about just that document and put things into perspective. It didn't resolve the emotions (and my eyes were a faucet of tears that wouldn't turn off during church the next day), but at least I was being more realistic and honest with myself about my emotional hysteria over that document. Later on Sunday, Sydnie came over with her daughter Ellianna and gave me something (along with a thoughtful card) that she said they'd been meaning to give us for a little while now. Ellianna's set of little girl Disney books (mostly princesses). It was such a sweet gesture and meant so much to me.

Here is part of what her sweet card said: "Here is a little reminder of what you are working hard for. I  always hated when other women said it, but it is true - it will be worth it..."

Of course I love these books. I love that Ellianna wanted to give them to us for our little girl. I love that Sydnie recognized the "right reasons" why I'm so emotional right now, that it's not just about this letter - and that I needed some encouragement and solidarity right now. This meant so much to me, and I know that each time that we read one of these to our little girl someday that I'll be reminded of her bearing my burden with me.

By way of wrapping up where we are on that document - I did call USCIS and was able to talk to the officer who approved out application. After some discussion he agreed to fix the application and get it in the mail yesterday. We are hoping that it will get here in time, and if not he said that he will see if he can get approval to send an encrypted email copy to us. So! Here's to hoping it comes in time, and that it was done correctly. Here's to praying that Chareyl is able to deliver it to our file at IBESR and that we don't have to wait much longer until that approval letter is referenced before issuing an official referral to us for our child. So we can see her face. Hold her. And begin to know her. Because we certainly already do love her.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tears with glasses

Sometimes I cry and am not completely sure why. That happened to me today. I called Mark at work to try and talk through it, but he wasn't available (totally understandable) I'm turning here instead.

Maybe I'm crying from relief. Perhaps it's gratitude. Perhaps it's from being overwhelmed at how long and unpredictable this journey is. Perhaps it's because I dare have hope that I'm getting closer to meeting our little girl...or perhaps it's out of fear that it could still be so far away.  Either way here's what happened:

I've already shared here about our decision to raise our age parameters on our paperwork, the mistakes/delays that have occurred (like they always seem to) in this seemly easy update...and the self imposed urgency that I've felt about having this document in hand for our adoption worker to hand deliver to our file in Haiti when she goes there in 2 weeks.

This morning I decided to follow up on our application. I needed to know if it was out of the realm of possibility for it to be processed, approved, mailed, and received in the next two weeks or not. Sometimes things can take weeks or months for the government to process and I had no idea. I didn't want to be checking the mail every day for the next 2 weeks if it wasn't a possibility, so I decided to draft a follow up email (after all it was a really good thing I did that the first time I sent this application in, right??)...then I decided to just call.  So I said a nervous little prayer and called.

I gave the man on the phone all the info on our application and he pulled it up. He cheerfully said, "Oh! I'm actually the one who processed your application. I approved it last Friday, so it shouldn't be too long before you receive the approval letter in the mail." .... Say what? Good news? Wahoo! I thanked him, wished him a good day, and hung up before the tears started.

I think I first was crying from relief and gratitude. Then start tears of hope, then fear about hoping too much, then about how long this process has been, then at how lonely this can feel to be crying about this over so many years. I know that I still have so long to go {more tears}, but I am just so anxious to be able to put a face to this child that I already love, long for and weep over. I want to hold her and know her. I want to have a face to show others who this is that I long for and already love. {more tears}

Sometimes I cry and it's just not that simple as to say why. It's all those reasons.

And now that I just got eye-glasses I know not to let the tears flow down and puddle in the rims. I'll just take them off and let them fall. For whatever their reason.