Wednesday, March 30, 2011

National Visa Center

Today we got a letter from the Bureau of Consular Affairs dated March 26, 2011. It says that the State Department's National Visa Center has recently received our Form I-800 and that our petition has been forward to the Embassy of the United States in Abbyland.

One more step towards Abby!

Also our CD "** Phrases for Children" was shipped today!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Couple More Things

On March 17 we became the proud owners of a white 1995 Ford Clubwagon. This lovely vehicle has seating for 15 . . . count 'em . . . 15! It is easy to drive (except on today's snowy, slippery roads), the gas gauge and the windshield wipers actually work on all speeds, and it provides plenty of space for all of our kiddos including Abby. In fact, our 6 look pretty lonely rattling around in there.

On Saturday, March 19 -- which was unofficially the first day of Spring Break -- Scheri and I got to take Mr. Stevo over to the ER for a gash on the back of his head. The crazy thing is that no one really knows how he got it. I'd gone over to my Mom and Dad's and when I walked back in the house, Kevin was cooking, Scheri was washing dishes and Steven was huddled under a chair crying. Seconds later, Billy was running and hollering, "He's bleeding! He's bleeding!" Sure enough, he was but no one had heard or seen what happened. As best as we can guess he had fallen and caught his head on a sharp metal edge on the chair. Anyway, we washed it up, covered it up with a clean damp wash cloth, held it in place with a scarf and headed over to St. Luke's. They ended up just gluing the gash closed. I personally was glad there was no need for stitches or staples.

Saturday the 26th I got to send some funds via Money Gram for English tutoring for Abby.

And today school was back in session.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Provisional Approval!--Part 2

I went down to the mailbox and the official Provisional Approval was in our box. For those following our time-line:

USCIS received our I-800 on March 2; it was approved on March 16; we got it in the mail today, March 21.

Now I believe it goes on to the National Visa Center.

Provisional Approval!

This is the wonderful message I received this morning from our USCIS officer:

Good morning. I was able to get the paperwork together and get the provisional approval mailed out to you. You should be getting it soon.


Saturday, March 19, 2011


I finally got all the words written on the entries for our first trip, February 14-19. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Now What?

Saturday March 12 I got a I-797C Notice of Action form from USCIS dated March 8, saying that our I-800 was received on March 2. Today our apostilled Power of Attorney was delivered to a soon-traveling family in California. It will be hand-delivered to Toni in AbbyLand this weekend.

For the many people (including me) who are wondering what happens next, here's the general run-down from a fellow-adoptive mom who also happens to be a Joy:

For us, I sent the I-800 on Friday, December 17. It was signed for at the lock box on Monday, December 20.

It made it to our officer on Thursday, January 13. Our officer approved it on the day that she got it (1/13).

Then it was forwarded on the the National Visa Center for them to process.

They send it on to the US Embassy in ____ (ours arrived there on Wednesday, 1/26).

Next, Toni has an appointment at the embassy to do the provisional filing of the Visa. After her interview at the embassy, they have 5 days to issue an Article 5 letter. For us, her appointment was on Monday, 2/7, and the Article 5 letter was issued (and in Toni’s hands) on Wednesday, 2/9.

Once Toni has the Article 5 letter, she translates it and submits it for authentication. When authentication is complete (Tuesday 2/15 for us),

Toni submits the dossier to the MOJ for 2 signatures (the MOJ and the MOJ’s attorney, I believe). We had 1 signature by Tuesday 2/22, but the MOJ did not sign until a week or so later. When both signatures are on the paper, the MOJ submits the case to the court system. Ours was submitted on Wednesday, March 2nd.

Then, you are assigned a judge and a court date. We received our court date on Friday, March 11. Court will be on Friday, March 25.

The dates (timeline) could be different for you, but I put ours on there so maybe you could see an average. Christmas holidays (and snowstorms) did slow our I-800 being processed, but honestly, don’t count on it being faster anyway b/c something different could always slow the process. If it is faster, that is great, but don’t count on it.

After court, you will get travel dates from Toni for your second trip. For most people that seems to be about a month (give or take a little) after court, depending on Toni’s travel schedule with other families. From the day of court, there is a 14 day {Note: this has since been decreased to 7 days} waiting period for the adoption to become final. After it is final, it takes another week for the child’s birth certificate to be issued.{Note: this has since been increased to 10 days.}

So, you really can’t travel for at least 3 weeks after court, and I think that Toni might usually make it closer to 4 weeks so that if there is a problem with the birth certificate, she has time to get that fixed. You need the birth certificate to get the passport and Visa on your 2nd trip.

On the 2nd trip, you pick your child up early Monday morning, then go straight to (the capital) to the passport office to apply for the passport. Then you go to your hotel. On Wednesday, Toni picks up the passport, then on Thursday you have the child’s medical appointment in the morning and the interview for the Visa in the afternoon. On Friday, Toni delivers the Visa to your hotel so you can come home on Saturday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Message from USCIS Officer

Yesterday I decided to start my weekly/bi-weekly emails to USCIS to check on the status of our I-800. My tracking showed that they received our packet of goodies on March 2. Here is the very quick and informative reply I received from our assigned officer. He truly has been very nice to work with in the past.

Good afternoon.

After the packet is received at the lockbox in Texas, they receipt it in and put it together and send it to my location here in Missouri. Once it gets here the contract staff matches it up with the paperwork already here and then forward it to my desk for adjudication. It usually takes around 12-14 days to make it to the NBC. I will keep my eyes open for it. Thanks for the heads up.

Officer _____

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Power of Attorney on its way!

Kevin was making deliveries in OUR area today so we grabbed the opportunity to stop at City Hall to get this second edition of our Power of Attorney notarized.

Then I came home to try to find out whether anyone on my Yahoo group is traveling to AbbyLand next weekend. YES!! My on-line friend, Lori, is flying out about then but needs to have any paperwork for Toni by the 16th--as in 6 days from now. Thankfully, she was hanging close to the internet and was able to supply me with the needed address, etc within a reasonably short amount of time.

Getting the document to her by the 16th wouldn't be an issue at all if it weren't for the fact that it has to take the scenic route--a little side-trip to the Secretary of State in Boise for an apostille along the way. I'm glad that the Idaho office seems to be much faster than some others.

So anyway, I jumped in the suburban and headed to town but I was having a little difficulty handling it on the road. I thought, oh great! maybe I have a flat tire. So I pulled off the road, nearly got my arm caught in the door (my coat caught on something sticking out from the edge of the door), circled the vehicle and was relieved to find all tires inflated. I climbed back in, tried to shut my door and it just bounced open. Tried again--just bounced open. Oh good grief!! I messed and messed with the latch only managing to get my fingers greasy. Why does this ridiculous stuff happen when I'm on an adoption errand. I said right out loud, "Devil you are a liar!" Adoption is something that GOD loves and Satan hates. I prayed--and called my sweetie. :) He told me how to easily fix the latch, we decided it must be the wind that was making the suburban harder to drive, and I was on my way.

And the document is now on its way as well.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steven's Birthday/Abby-Girl

I just cannot believe how incredibly tired I am. No matter how many 'big' projects I complete, I can't seem to get to that wondrous, mystical place of "nothing to do but blog." Tonight I have been reading and reading and reading emails from some of the Yahoo groups that I just LOVE but I just cannot get caught up. I feel so out of the loop.

Steven's 7th birthday was Sunday. I finally got to buy presents that afternoon and we had a fun but somewhat impromptu party that night along with my parents. They are such good sports, so willing to participate in the last-minute plans of their majorly-mahvelous daughter.

Steven was so cute. I'd go up to him throughout the day and start singing "Happy Birthday" and he'd point to himself, giggle and say "Me? Me?" Of course, Caleb felt it only fair that he, too, should have a birthday but was able to enjoy the time anyway. Thankfully, Mom wrapped presents, Kevin cooked dinner and Scheri had baked the cake so when I got home like 6:30 pm I could concentrate on frosting it-- mixing colors for the rainbow stripes--for the party at 7:30. Also bought red plastic tablecloth, green plates, yellow cups, orange napkins and blue forks/spoons to go along with the rainbow theme. AND we had rainbow chip cake and frosting and multi-colored Popsicles. Come to think of it, we never got around to official games!

Then Monday I surprised Steven by showing up in his classroom at 2:30 with cupcakes. He was already wearing a birthday crown signed by his classmates and had received a little book Corduroy and a book mark from his teacher. After passing out the snacks I got to share with his class about the beautiful city in Ukraine where Steven was born, showed them a couple souvenirs (they LOVED the nesting doll), told them a little about the alphabet, about soccer being a favorite sport, how to say yes and no in Ukrainian and let them look at pictures books of Kiev and Ukraine in general. I was pleasantly surprised at how interested they were when I showed them where Ukraine is on the map. I had a great time.

On the Abby front, we do indeed have to re-do the Power of Attorney document. Toni verified that there cannot be any crossing-out. So I have two copies here by the computer awaiting a time when we can again bless a notary with our dual presences. (I'll bet you didn't even know that presences is a word!!!)

One VERY cool thing is that Abby's Center has found a wonderful lady that can tutor her in English 3 times a week. We are currently in the process of working out the best way to transfer the necessary funds. It only comes out to about $120 per month. I just feel so blessed that the staff there in AbbyVille are concerned enough about her well-being to arrange this for us. It will so greatly benefit our transition.

I sure do miss my little girl.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Are we moving forward?

I got an apologetic email a couple days ago from Toni saying that a new format is now required for the Power of Attorney. Bah humbug!! I knew it was too good to be true that we got the last one done so effortlessly and quickly :) :) So though our original POA is in flight to AbbyLand as we speak, it is basically null and void.

So today I eventually got the precious page printed off after filling in Abby's new name {wouldn't YOU like to know what it is!!!} and the notarial wording required by Idaho. Kevin contacted a notary we know in a town about 15 miles away and she graciously agreed to help us out though, remember, it is a Saturday. I think she said something about being available until 4:00. I couldn't run right over as I had other business to attend to in the opposite direction. Finally about 3:30 I'm heading for the suburban with Caleb giving me directions like "Coat. Zip. Car. Now." Unfortunately he didn't mention anything like "Notebook. Document. Car. Now." We got all the way to our destination with like 5 minutes to spare and guess what!! I'd left the paper at home on the dining room table. So we zipped home, grabbed the adoption notebook, zipped back. It's was now 4:20. The official signing took about 5 minutes

I'm checking to see whether the document will work though because we got one of the names printed in the wrong spot. It was corrected and I don't think I will have any trouble getting it apostilled but I'm not sure if AbbyLand will accept it like that.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Work in Progress

I am slowly adding "the words" to my posts about our time in AbbyLand if you are interested in scrolling back and checking them out. Please do keep Abby and the rest of us in your prayers. I am really missing her right now.

Hopefully our I-800 packet was delivered to Texas yesterday. And hopefully the two documents that Toni needs their in EE will be delivered to Minnesota today to be hand-delivered to Toni this weekend.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Money in our Account

Once again I want to say a big "thank you" to all the precious someones who are contributing to our Reece's Rainbow account. This is just so encouraging to me.

As far as I can tell, the two main items yet to cover are airline tickets and in-country expenses. The cost of airline tickets for our first trip were approximately $1000 apiece (with all the taxes and fees) and I'm guessing they will be in that same ballpark for our 2nd trip as well. And, praise the Lord, this time Abby will be needing a ticket, too--albeit one-way. Our in-country expenses will probably be higher than our first trip because we will be staying more nights in the capital city where the motel ($90+ per night) and restaurant are quite a bit more costly--but a very nice breakfast buffet is included. This last go-round, Kevin and I just had snacks for lunch most of the time--granola bars, trail mix, jerky, etc. and for dinner we often spent less than 20 leva (approx $14) for the two of us. I'm sure though that Abby will need 'real' food for lunch.

Hopefully, this gives some idea of our needs.