You've heard of road rage, right? For me, that consists of blasting the horn (aka The Communication Tool of the Road) and shouting "Oh COME ON!!" What does it look like for you? Side note: I’m glad that my language isn’t typically too much stronger with little ears around to listen. The other day, Madelyn was playing with blocks in her room and accidentally knocked them over. I heard a perfect mimic of myself at that moment, “Oh COME ON!”
Anyway, what I am experiencing right now is the equivalent of road rage, only on paper. Paper rage, people. MAJOR Paper Rage.
The adoption process for Mei Mei involves mountainous piles of paperwork. It’s not an impossible pile or even a daunting pile. It’s just a big pile. But the US Government just did the equivalent of swerving into my lane, causing me to slam on my brakes. Hence the Paper Rage. Let me explain:
We have everything ready for our China dossier except for the necessary US Government approval. We have been background checked, completed our homestudy, filled out countless forms, obtained letters of recommendation, had every aspect of our health checked, visited with notaries, obtained authentications - you get the picture. And no, they don’t let you skip steps just because you have previously adopted a child. Our last step was waiting on the US Government approval of our Form I800A Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt A Child From a Convention Country (try repeating that quickly three times). To get that approval, we were required to appear when summoned at the US Immigrations office in Portland for biometric fingerprints. The summons came while we were on vacation so we traveled to Portland, waited for our number to be called, and headed back to the beach.
The swerve happened two days later when an immigration officer emailed me and said that my fingerprints were "unclassifiable" and needed to be retaken. Unclassifiable basically means that when the immigration officer taking my fingerprints hit override on the computer while taking my fingerprints, he apparently shouldn’t have because the computer was trying to tell him that it could not read my fingerprints. The FBI requested that I come back to have fingerprints taken again and the Immigrations office assigned me an appointment A MONTH later. SERIOUSLY?????
Not happy about a month-long delay on the processing of our application, I called our adoption agency. They replied that they had heard of this happening a few times but noted that it is very rare in their experience. They suggested that I call the Portland Immigrations office or physically go there and request an earlier appointment. We started researching and discovered that phone numbers for local branches of US Immigrations are unlisted. And the notice I was given warned me in no uncertain terms that I was not to appear in person at the office without a document proving that I had an appointment at the time of my appearance. Given the security scanners and guards in place for the Portland office, I don't doubt that they are serious.
Next, I called the 1-800 number for US Immigrations listed on my notice. After getting through about 6 rounds of menu options and then waiting on hold, I was finally able to talk to someone. Their immediate response? "Maam, there is absolutely nothing we can do to help you." Well thank you. Paper RAGE.
So I emailed the immigration officer and asked if I could get an earlier appointment or if I could have the contact information for the Portland office so that I could check on availability for an earlier appointment. Her/his response? (He/she only used a first initial so I have no clue as to gender): " Only the automatic system can set your appointment and I don't have contact information for the Portland office." Oh how I wished I could cross examine the officer on those answers because I did not believe the veracity of either answer. Naturally, said officer without a first name did not provide a phone number. Maybe they knew I would try to cross examine? Needless to say, the paper rage grew a little more . . .
Then yesterday's mail came. And in it was ANOTHER notice from US Immigrations with a different application number, a different appointment time (even later), and absolutely no indication whether my original rescheduling was still valid. PAPER RAGE, Y'ALL.
So Monday morning I will be contacting both Mr. “There Is Nothing We Can Do To Help You Maam” and Mr./Ms. No First Name to try to sort this mess out.
(Honk) Oh COME ON!!
there. i feel a little better.
- Tricia Olson, 2012