Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Putting your trust in USCIS

Let me refresh your memory...

I was told, via email, that my I-171h (that's the document issued by USCIS that states we're approved to bring a child into the US) was put in the mail on November 2nd. This email came from a specific officer within the USCIS department. My adoption agency representative received the same information from a different officer.

At the same time the I-171h is issued to the adoptive parents, a copy is shipped to the National Visa Center (NVC) where it is then uploaded to the sharepoint for overseas access by the US Embassy.

And yet, that document never arrived to my house. I *have* to have that document in order for the US Embassy in Axel's country to issue him a visa to enter the US. If I don't have it, the Embassy 1) gets very upset and snarky 2) They can dig into their system to verify the information, and request information from USCIS in the states. This adds several days to your overseas process. 3) The US Embassy remains snarky because if I had that letter with me they would not have to do this.

So this morning I called USCIS yet again to find out where my document is. This time the person says, "Well, I don't know how that email could have said it was mailed out on the 2nd, because your worker didn't even get your file until the 5th! It may not even be DONE yet!"

You may now insert huge giant anxiety attack here!!!

As I tried to catch my breath, and tried to remember that this person only answers phones and is not responsible for whatever screw ups have happened up to this point, I said in my calm-but-soon-to-be-hysterical-voice, "I know that you're going to somehow find out for me that this is not true, and that it IS completed, because I am traveling in 16 days to complete this adoption with a date that was set based on the fact I was told my application was approved and my I-171h was in... the... mail!" 

I'm pretty sure I could feel her heart racing with mine. She put me on hold while she went to find a supervisor.

She came back a few minutes later. "I now have access to a database I've never had access to before! The officer assigned to your case is not here today, so my supervisor is letting me go into this database to track your file and tell you exactly where everything is. Oh this is fun!"

I was not feeling the fun. Normally, I would have been, but somehow today I was not!

"Ok, the officer received your file on the 5th. Again, it could NOT have gone out on the 2nd because it wasn't even possible. The file was completed on the 10th. The I-171h went in the  mail yesterday (this was pointed out to me later, the 11th was yesterday,  a federal holiday and their office was CLOSED! So how could this be??? Is there a secret we don't know about?) And the documents went out in a box via UPS 2nd day Air to the NVC yesterday. So you should call the NVC on Tuesday to make sure the have them. It will take them a few days to upload them into the database for the US embassy in (Axel's country) to access them. If something happens and they don't have them by Tuesday, you call back here and we'll have to send them again. You should have the I-171h by the end of next week. If you don't have it by Thursday you should call back here so we can get special permission to email or fax you another copy."

So, if some of you are reading who  have been told certain information by the USCIS, I would not necessarily believe what you have been told! I'm not even 100% sure that I want to believe what I was told today, even though Miss Happy on the phone got to read to me directly from a data base she's never had access to before!

The homestudy process? That was a PIECE OF CAKE!!! It's the stuff that comes AFTER that is rough! Maybe because our homestudy was done over almost 2 months time, and the rest of Axel's adoption has been done in a matter of a few very short weeks. We formally submitted for  him just 33 days ago, and it seems like I haven't stopped running since! I can't wait until we get him home and can catch our breath.

Something tells me we won't be sitting still for long. LOL


  1. When we went to Ethiopia to bring home our daughter we had to call the NVC every few hours. We had our airline tickets on hold, but our file had been sent to Yakima instead of Ethiopia.. So they had to wire it there (we didn't know until the week we were supposed to leave, even though Yakima had it for a month or so) and we called and called. Then the day before we were supposed to leave we had to get new tickets b/c our flight sold out.. But they got it and we were on track for bringing our daughter home. I know it's incredibly stressful, but after it's done it's kinda fun to have those stories to share:)