Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I've honestly had 2 very frustrating days working on adoption stuff. Yesterday was one of those days when I worked and worked all day but got nowhere, and today has turned out to be very similar!

When I went to bed last night I remembered that somewhere on the USCIS website I had seen a way to check on the status of your application, so first thing this morning I went to the website, found the link, and put our numbers in. It said that it could not find our file! My heart stopped momentarily, but I remained calm as I called the number it suggested that I call. The representative also said that she could not find our file, but to try calling Adoption Services, and gave me that number. I questioned her on this, asking if Adoption Services has any information on the status our our Immigration application, but she insisted that that was indeed the number to call.

I called the number, but it was actually the "travel.state.gov" number, meant for Americans who are overseas and need help. That lady suggested that I call the National Visa Center, and gave me that number. I didn't think that was right, either, since we won't be needing any visas for quite some time (until we're ready to travel to China), but I shrugged my shoulders and tried it.

That representative said she also couldn't find our file! I tried to remain calm as I asked her what this means, and what I should do. How could our paperwork be lost? I know it was received by USCIS because we got a receipt, and an appointment to be fingerprinted. How could we suddenly just not be in the system?! She put me on hold, then came back and said that she had spoken to her supervisor, who also did not know what to tell me. She suggested that I call USCIS!! I nicely reminded her that USCIS was the first number I had called, but I thanked her for her time and hung up.

Still trying very hard not to panic, I looked over all of the papers that we have received from USCIS with a fine-tooth comb, and finally found one more number for "Hague cases". Since China is a Hague country, and the I-800A form is for Hague adoptions, I tried the number listed. The recording said "Due to unusually high call volume we cannot take your call at this time" and hung up on me! UGH!

I tried again later, and a nice lady actually answered the phone. She had our file!! THANK GOD!!! The problem now is that it still has not been reviewed. It is still sitting on someone's desk. HOPEFULLY someone will review it very soon because we need that approval before we can do anything else!

I then tried to call the Chinese Embassy in D.C. again, but they did not answer the phone (even though I was calling during their "business hours"). It just rang and rang, not even a message or recording. I tried again later and a recording answered, but spoke all in Chinese. I finally heard what I thought said "For English press 1", so I pressed "1". The next menu spoke only Chinese! Since I couldn't understand a word I hung up so that I could try again, but when I called back the phone rang busy! I tried again and again but it kept ringing busy. I gave up, drove home, then tried one more time (the Embassy is only open until 3 PM and it was nearly 3 by now). The recording answered, and this time I listened much more carefully: it said to press "2" for English!

I pressed "2", and finally got an actual person! I told her about all the problems I have had with the Embassy in Houston, and when I finished she said "I see. They owe you an explanation. You should call them. Here is their number..." (and gave the same number I've been trying).

I took a very long, deep breath, then repeated that I had tried that number, numerous times, as well as the automated number, and gotten no response.

She said "I see. Then I think you should e-mail them. Here is their address-"

I cut her off, kindly reminding her that I had also tried to e-mail them and had gotten no reply.

She said "I see. Then I think you should fax them."

I thanked her for her time and hung up.

At this point, ready to cry, I e-mailed Philip, our contact person at our agency. I told him what all I've been through and explained that I've obviously hit a major road block and I did not know what else to do. He wrote back and said not to worry, he would handle it! He said that all I need to get are the State Authentications (I've already done that for all the States except Virginia, which is waiting for the I-800A approval to arrive so that it can be authenticated as well), but that he will do the rest! I don't have to deal with the Embassies any more! THANK YOU PHILIP!!!!!!!

Sorry this post was so long, but it's been a very long couple of days! I just want to keep a journal of all of this so that Caitlin knows how hard we worked to get to her. Hopefully she will see how much we loved her and wanted her, even before she was born, that we were willing to go through all this to bring her home...

Monday, December 29, 2008

News update...

Paul got another "Letter of Employment Verification" printed and notarized today. He already did this back in July, but since we are still waiting to finish the "paperchase" it needed to be redone.

We still have not heard back from USCIS (Immigration) about our I-800A approval. I was really hoping it was going to come by now, but no such luck. Hopefully it will come very soon because everything is on hold waiting for it. If we don't get our paperwork in to China soon even more of our documents may have to be redone.

Oh, and I tried to contact the Chinese Embassy in D.C. to ask them if they could help me with the communication problems with the Embassy in Houston, but they did not answer the phone. The Embassy in Houston is only open for 1 hour a day; apparently the Embassy in D.C. is only open for 4 hours a day, and I missed their working hours. I'll try again tomorrow!

For a little good news, a big, surprise batch of referrals began arriving today from China for beautiful babies! This batch finishes out the LIDs for February 2006, meaning that the families who get these referrals have been "LID", or on the waiting list, for almost 3 years, since February 2006. It really caught everyone off guard since they just sent out a batch at the beginning of December so no one was expecting any more referrals until later in January. Hopefully this is a sign of the speedup that we all are hoping for!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Gifts for Caitlin

Paul's family had a few surprises for Caitlin as well! Paul's parents gave her a beautiful pink and white crocheted blanket,some cute pink pants,and adorable Disney princess slippers!

Paul's sister's family gave her a gorgeous Asian "American Girl" baby doll:She is so pretty- I love her! She reminds me of my first baby doll, Ba (I couldn't say "baby" yet so I just called her "Ba". The name stuck, and to this day she is still known as Ba). Ba was always my favorite and went everywhere with me (even to college, believe it or not!). Maybe this doll will one day be Caitlin's Ba!

It was so fun including Caitlin in our family festivities; it almost made it feel like she was here!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Terracotta Soldiers

My parents, Paul and I went to the "First Emperor of China" exhibit at the Atlanta High Museum of Art today to see the Terracotta Soldiers. It was fascinating- we all learned a lot about China's history. The exhibit only had a handful of the over 1,000 soldiers that have been uncovered so far, but it was enough to make us really appreciate how amazing they are!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ladybugs for Caitlin

I have been looking and looking for a ladybug ornament for Caitlin. I would like to collect one each Christmas that we are waiting for Caitlin to hang on our tree, and I will write on them "Waiting for Caitlin," plus the year. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a simple thing like a ladybug ornament! I finally found a couple, but they were scary ladybugs (ladybugs can be really cute or they can look like, well, bugs; I wanted the cute kind!) Anyway, I told my mom about my quest, and little did I know that she set right to work to try to help me out. After a lot of searching (and persistence!), she finally found this:It is perfect- exactly what I was looking for!

She also surprised us with this beautiful Swarovski crystal ladybug:It is so beautiful and I absolutely love it. Thank you so much, Mom and Dad!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still Waiting...

I just wanted to update the blog since I haven't updated in several days, but there is actually no news to report. I have been trying since the last post to reach the Chinese Embassy in Houston to ask why our papers were returned unopened, but they do not answer the phone (even during the one hour they say to call, from 9-10 AM. I have tried calling from 9-10 Houston time as well as our time!), and even the automated number has no recording. I have sent an e-mail but there has been no reply. Finally, in desperation I e-mailed our contact person at our agency, Philip, and told him about it. He replied very timely, but only stated that he also tried calling and got the same response. No offense, as I truly appreciate all the help Philip has given me in the past, but did he really think that his phone was special? How did he expect his phone to get a different response than mine, when he called the exact same number! I was actually hoping that he had some kind of insider info and a different number to call, or a better address to send the documents to.

Anyway, I will continue trying my futile efforts for the next few days, but we are leaving town again Thursday morning for our Christmas travels so time is quickly running out for this year... Here's hoping to better luck in 2009!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are back from our trip! It was a wonderful trip, but the voyage home was unbelievable. Long story, but we didn't get home until 5:00 AM this morning! We are pretty exhausted, but glad to be home!

In adoption news, today I got back the envelope that I'd FedEx-ed to the Chinese Consulate in Houston last week (the one with all of our Georgia and Florida papers that needed to be authenticated). Unfortunately it was returned unopened because it was not accepted at the consulate. I'm not sure why, but I will have to wait until tomorrow to call them since they are only open from 9-10 AM.