Our I-171H arrived today. Isn’t God good? USCIS has exceeded my expectations, and I am so thankful. I will notarize and authenticate it tomorrow and ship it off to our agency to send on to Ethiopia. There’s nothing more we can do until we go to Ethiopia. Now we are awaiting a court date which will likely occur in late September (but I’m willing to scramble for a late July date if possible). I am expectant, not anxious. God will finish what he’s started.
We’ve had a full day, and my children have been great, really great. We’ve taxed their little bodies more than we should have in the name of getting their brother home. We got them up at 4:15 this morning for our drive to the city. My boy went right back to sleep. My girl sang and shrieked and kicked the back of my seat for the next 3 hours. She fell asleep after we stopped for breakfast, but by then my boy was up, and it was his turn to sing and shriek. My poor brother and his girlfriend (my live-in college student) were in the back row trying to sleep, tired after a late night watching fireworks in our family’s boat at the lake 2 hours away. The staff at the immigration office was fantastic. They helped us quickly, and we were on our way to the children’s museum within an hour. Our kids climbed, slid, splashed, touched, and tasted lots of things today. Lulu particularly enjoys putting her hands in water. She touched a turtle, played in a giant ball pit, and climbed higher than I’ve ever seen her go. Teme was thrilled with the climbing, even though he’s not quite strong enough to pull himself up without help. They crawled through an underwater tunnel, waved at a sea turtle and some giant fish. They loved that they were allowed to run in such a big place, not strapped into their strollers or carried everywhere. We stayed until their eyes started to droop and Lulu’s thumb went in her mouth. We made our way from the museum to a lovely little Ethiopian restaurant in town. We sipped mango juice and pinched off rolls of injera to munch a vegetarian platter, tibbs, and a tilapia dish (my new favorite). Teme loves injera, but I had trouble getting him to eat much else. Lulu didn’t want to eat anything and spent her time rolling the injera and pressing it into balls like play dough. We opted to skip the botanical gardens when the temperature on my car’s gauge read 108 degrees. The kids alternated screaming and sleeping the whole way home. I put them both down for naps when we arrived back home. When they’d both fallen asleep, I ordered a pizza online and Matt and I napped until it arrived. I woke the kids up and we munched on pizza and cinnamon sticks on the couch watching Sesame Street. We’ve never had pizza and TV as a family before. I’m generally an anti-TV momma, but today, it was just what we needed.
Our dossier arrived in Ethiopia this morning. I’m relieved to have two more things checked off of my list. Now I just need the I-171H in hand, notarized and authenticated, and there’s nothing more for us to do.
So, we received our USCIS appointment this weekend. It is for July 26th, an unacceptable 26 days away. We plan to head to the city’s USCIS office on 7/5 and beg to be fingerprinted early. This generally isn’t a problem provided we bring a copy of the appointment notice. The college student that lives in my home (over the age of 18) must be fingerprinted as well, and she has not received an appointment yet, even though we paid for all three of us to be printed. Taking her along is a risk. Without an appointment notice, they may refuse to see her, and it is a 3 hour drive away. This week is ideal since her classes are cancelled for the holiday, but I don’t want to waste her long weekend off. I’m praying we receive an appointment notice for her before Thursday.
Once the fingerprints are done, I’ve heard it can take about 3 weeks for the completed I-171H to arrive. We must have the I-171H prior to our court date. I know it probably won’t happen until October, but I’m still a teensy bit hopeful for a late July court date prior to closures. This is my final task in this adoption process. The rest is in the hands of our agency, the courts, and immigration. I’m so thankful that God sees these details.
We are supposed to be DTE today. I don’t know if we are actually. I didn’t want to be a nag, so I waited until 3:30 this afternoon (4:30 eastern) to email our family coordinator. She wrote back quickly with this response:
“[Agency Representative] is sending out the DTE email to you right now as it should be FedEx’d to Ethiopia this weekend!”
I never got that email, so I don’t know if that means we are DTE and didn’t receive the email or if something happened and my dossier is sitting quietly on someone’s desk in Virginia. I’m trying not to worry.
In other news, USCIS has cashed our giant check, but no fingerprinting appointment is in sight. I overnighted the documents to Texas (as instructed) where they cashed the check and then mailed the documents to the USCIS office in my home town (please wait 7-10 days for delivery). I think I could have just delivered it myself and saved a step, but that’s not how it’s done.
We learned yesterday that our agency will allow us to send our dossier to Ethiopia without the I-171H. This means our dossier can go to Ethiopia so we can start the court process without having to wait on USCIS for approval. We will still have to have the I-171H prior to our court date, but that isn’t often a problem. I’m hoping we’ll be DTE by the end of the week!