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Saturday, May 30, 2009

One and a half minutes of bliss

I think I may need to revisit this state of mind again soon...the land of no paperwork, no internet and no worries....


Friday, May 29, 2009

Glacial progress

Every so often, a well-meaning friend suggests that we just "adopt domestically" or "switch to another country". I've given our reasons for not adopting domestically too many times to count so I will not recap that again.

In terms of switching countries, I can see how, unless you have been mired in it every day for the past several years, you might not know that there really aren't that many countries to adopt from anymore.

I came across this article on another blog and found that it addresses this situation more succinctly and with much less emotion than I would.

To add to the information in this article with some real-time information directly from our China Agency:

It is our opinion that the wait time will continue to lengthen over the next 12-18 months....and wait time may increase to 4 years and even surpass that.

Meanwhile in Nepal, a new Prime Minister is in place. You can read this article if you are interested in learning the latest. As for the adoption process, 3 U.S. families have received and accepted their referrals and have been told they will travel around the end of July. And an Italian agency has confirmed that they have received 4 referrals with two of them being accepted thus far.

Our DCFS endorsement letter, homestudy and written request for another I-171 was received by USCIS on the 26th. We received an email confirming receipt. We also received a letter indicating that our appointment for yet another set of fingerprints will be sent shortly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A pictoral update

I have been a bit remiss in my postings of late. Frankly, I'm just too tired to keep you up with the turmoil in Nepal (they have elected a new Prime Minister who will now re-appoint many of the previously-appointed government positions, etc. ad nauseum) much less the fate of our paperwork at the hands of IL's finest state workers.

So instead, I thought I would entertain you with our activities of late:

Activity #1. Crawfish Boil at the home of one of Len's co-workers to raise funds for a cure for breast cancer.

Here are the squirming crawfish awaiting their fate in the boiling pot.



And here is the more palatable version, hot out of the pot.







Activity #2. Lisa's trip to DC. Our friend Laurie invited me to stay for a few days. She and her husband Vance were the first people we met when we moved to DC 12 years ago. We were neighbors in Springfield before we moved to Falls Church and they moved to Annandale.

Here we are in Shirlington for a girl's night out (thanks to Vance for watching their boys until we rolled in at 1am).



I met up with Spiff and Paul in DC for a Thai dinner before they headed off for a vaca in Greece the next day.



Lunch in DC with Don and Katherine for Peruvian fare. We first met Katherine when she was an English professor at UCF. Somehow, years later, we all ended up in DC and I was designing her dream bathroom! Their support and encouragement over the years has been one of our greatest gifts.



A quick stop in our old neighborhood in Falls Church to visit with our beloved former neighbors. Below is Moka (the four-legged neighbor), Mia (who is so much taller than the last time I saw her!), Tessa and Doug (baby #2 is due in July--congrats!), Mike (his son Grady was too fast to capture on film), Jerusha and Barb (a happy surprise since they each happened to be driving by and stopped to say hi). They are greatly missed.



Activity #3: Memorial Day weekend. We had stellar weather (assuming a trip to the beach in hot weather was not in your plans). It was sunny and fairly cool but at least it wasn't raining! We spent Sunday afternoon over at Karen's house.

Len dug out a bush in her front yard and planted a Japanese Maple in its place.





*Kelly, please note Len's proper use of the family construction shirt Tony gave him.



Cold margaritas, guacamole and chips were the reward for manual labor.



Karen's neighbor, Chad, rescued the next round of margaritas with ice and mixer from his house (since we had run out of both).



Activity #4. Getting some greenery on the deck. We headed to the store for hanging baskets and some plants to try to make our side deck off the kitchen a little more homey. Please note the lovely view of the building next to ours. (It looks closer than it feels!).





Len also hung up some iron planters on the railings at the front of the house. I filled them with dirt/flowers while he was at guitar class. Note: the elephant ear made a comeback (see the large-leafed plant in the red pot). It was a shriveled, matted mess after our move here in January in the back of the un-heated truck in -0 degree weather and I was sure it had rotted and died. Alas, 3 of the 5 bulbs made it.



Our summer is becoming booked with friends/family who are coming to visit. We are excited that Chicago seems to be a much more popular place for people to come to than DC was.

PS--Laurie and Katherine, I ordered fabric panels for the sliding glass door in the MBed. When we get it hung I will take pics. Thanks for your intervention many words of wisdom last week. I'm working on the rest as well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nine weeks

Nine weeks. The amount of time that each of our 4 pregnancies lasted (only one managed to make it longer than that).

Nine weeks is also the amount of time it took DCFS to send our approval letter. That was 33-43 days LONGER than it was supposed to take.

Moving on.

This was in my in-box from our homestudy agent this afternoon:

I just got it in the mail TODAY!!! YEA!! I am putting your package in the mail to USCIS on my way out tonight. Once I get the tracking number I will email that to you (I have to get a slip from the fed-ex box).

So, now our file goes to USCIS for our FOURTH I-171. This process typically takes 4-6 weeks--I'm hoping that a sad and forlorn email from me to the USCIS officer will help to speed things up, however...

In the meantime, we mailed out our request to be re-fingerprinted by USCIS since the expiration of the I-171 and the expiration of the fingerprints required for said I-171 form are not the same; in fact they differ by 11 months.

Because that makes a lot of sense.

No word yet on when that appointment will be.

In other Nepal news from the Yahoo groups:

The three families who have received referrals have all given their information in varying degrees of detail to the group so we are all assured that progress is being made in Kathmandu. The estimate is that it will be three months before they will be invited to travel but with the instability of the government, that could change (do I really need to say that anymore?).

Maybe I should just protest outside the USCIS office. Hey, it was good enough for the trade unions in DC this week. (I was in DC for a very short trip {pictures to follow in another post} and filmed this protest while on my way to lunch with Don and Katherine).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Looks like they amended previous news out of Nepal

This from AdoptionNepal:

Referral News Update:

Kathmandu:According to Holt International Children's Services US, the MOWCS has sent them the referral package and not to their families directly. Similarly two families have also said that they received their referral of their matched children through their agency Holt and not directly from their Ministry.


I'm in DC for a restorative visit with Laurie and Vance C. More later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An update from AdoptionNepal website

Ministry embassies meet

Kathmandu: A meeting was held today between the consulates, embassies of various countries in Nepal and the MOWCSW to discuss and update International Adoption of Nepal. The meeting was coordinated by the German Embassy here in Nepal. The Ministry briefed the international offices about a Code of Conduct which the government is planning to introduce to stakeholders of international adoption which would include the orphanages, representatives and agencies. A participant of the meeting said that this Code of Conduct however did not speak about anything for the Ministry themselves who with the centralization of process has become the key players of adoption. The ministry also updated in the meeting that almost 250 dossiers have been registered, however the ministry did not openly state about the matching status said a participant. He added that several important questions raised by the embassies and consulates were not clarified by the officials, the counsels were not satisfied with govt. response to their questions. Meanwhile, according to a reliable source the Ministry has matched children from 3 families of American Agency Holt International. The ministry has directly mailed the referral package to these 3 families. This has taken the representatives here and adoption agencies abroad by surprise. Nepal has just ratified the Hague and according to Hague, communication with the family has to be through the Agency said one of the representatives from the Adoption Agencies Representative Forum Nepal (AARFN). We representatives are confused and surprised by Ministry’s step of sending the child referral directly to the families, there is a system which the New Terms and Conditions have laid down and the gov. should walk on those lines. The new rules states of families going through an approved agency. The gov. had last year invited applications from agencies abroad and approved and accredited 68 adoption agencies earlier to work for international adoption from Nepal.

_________

This has a few interesting points to consider:

1. It looks like at least three referrals were sent directly to families, bypassing the agency which is not allowed under the new rules and regulations.

2. It says they "ratified" the Hague which is much different than just signing the agreement to implement it. Let's hope that is just a translation issue b/c if it's not and they have actually ratified it, then there are new rules and regulations for the Hague that have to be fulfilled with our dossier. Not to mention that your agency must be Hague certified.

3. With 250 dossiers already in the queue, I don't know where this puts ours--I don't know if it's there with our old information being held for the new info. or if it got kicked out when we moved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh, Come ON already

Our homestudy agency has finally talked to DCFS and here is the problem as conveyed in an email to us today (which we already knew since we were the ones who told her--see this blog post):

I have both good and bad news. I talked to our dcfs licensing rep today. She said that she does not have all the information in the system for your license, even though we have record/proof of it being sent. She instructed me to re-fax things over again with the documentation showing the previous time it was faxed. She told me to check back in with her Friday to ensure that it is being processed. I did stress to her that this is he ONLY thing we are waiting on.

So, I am thankful that I was able to talk to her directly and that she will make sure things are getting done. I will hopefully be able to give you good news Friday. Either way I will call or email Friday.


Friday will make it 8 weeks since they've had our file (for something we were told would take 20-30 days).

And no one would even be working on it now if we had not called DCFS OURSELVES to find out what was causing the delay.

We kept being told that DCFS was working on it and it would be "another 1-2 weeks or so" but that no one could really say for sure.

My piece of advice: you have to be your own advocate and call the people directly, scream that referrals are being made and their ineptitude is keeping an orphan from having a family explain the situation and then hound them until they finish it followup.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why do beach trips go so fast?

We spent the majority of our trip at our friend's condo at Crescent Beach. Carmean needed a new kitchen so I traded a design with construction drawings and spec. for a free week at the condo. Len's sister Kathy and her two boys, Stefan and Joey, came up for a couple of days and my mom came to visit during the last few days of our stay.

From there we drove to Ocala to visit my dad and Gloria. We had a fabulous dinner and overnight visit before leaving on Sunday to spend the afternoon with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kelly and Tony and their three kids, Taylor, Kellen and Karlie.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I think I prefer the dead zone

When I last left you, I was headed for a blissful week on the beach. While I was away, you and I have missed out on some crucial information concerning Nepal. Fortunately, in that one week, the rollercoaster ride was so intense that I'm just as glad that I was away from the computer, laying flat on my back on the sand in an internet dead-zone.

Here's a quick recap:

It was announced that Nepal had signed the Hague Intercountry Adoption Agreement. This made for a bit of worry that our files would have to meet the new criteria but it seems that based on past experience with other countries (like China) who have also signed the agreement, it will take a while for it to be ratified in Nepal so we shouldn't be affected by these new developments.

This was posted on the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOCSW) website last week:

Kathmandu

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal submitted his resignation to President Tam Baran Yadav today. The resignation came after President Yadav asked Chief Army Officer Mr. Rookmund Katawal to stay in position thought the Prime Minister had dismissed him. Prime Minister's resignation means paving way for a new coalition government. These political changes are bound to affect work at all government levels including international adoption where matching had just started.


The Prime Minister of Nepal accused the Army Chief of defying government orders by not recruiting more Maoists which the Army Chief denied. He was sacked anyway. This angered the President who asked the Chief to stay in his position and defy the Maoist-led government. This led to the resignation of the Prime Minister. In short, chaos for the very fragile Nepal Republic.

In addition, the photo of the Minister for MOCSW disappeared off the website although his name is still listed. Ominous foreshadowing?

Here are a couple of articles from last week if you are that interested in reading further about Nepal's latest coalition woes.

What Next for Nepal?

Is Nepal sliding back into the abyss?

Many, many posts flew around the adoption blogs/websites for several days about what this might mean for international adoption which was just getting started again after much turmoil.

Then, one of the women on our Nepal yahoo group announced that she had indeed received a referral! After many weeks of speculation and rumors about there being 25 referrals already out there, we have evidence of at least one! She was matched with a baby girl, just under 12 months old.

Of course she is being bombarded by questions by the rest of the PAP's, wanting to know when she will be approved for travel, how long the stay in-country will be, etc. We are all still awaiting her response but I doubt she knows that yet as she just got the referral a few days ago. I will let you know what she says should she decide to share more.

Meanwhile, back at "Camp-Waiting-For-DCFS-Paperwork" (it's been 7 weeks for those who have lost count), here is what we've found out today directly from DCFS.

First, DCFS did not log in our paperwork until 3 weeks after it was received. That's comforting to hear...NOT.

Second, although they have our application and our agency's recommendation on file, they do not have any record of our background checks ever being entered into the system.

Third, the person who would have entered this information is no longer in that department and her back-up person is on medical leave. See a pattern? We are in the black void of going nowhere fast.

Meanwhile, our USCIS fingerprints will expire on July 17 and I can't get the new appointment for the free one-time extension to be re-fingerprinted until I have our new I-171 which I can't get until DCFS releases our paperwork to the USCIS.

Back on the hamster wheel.

I'm shooting off an email now to USCIS to see if we can just use our old I-171 from VA (which won't expire until June of 2010) to get the appointment to be re-fingerprinted before they expire and we have to pay the fees again.

Have I really only been home less than 24 hours?

I miss the beach mostly for the fact that for one week, I thought about nothing related to either of these adoptions. I wasn't able to access any information so it was blissfully out of my mind. The 80 degree temps and daily dose of sunshine didn't hurt either.

Appropriately, it's 58 degrees and cloudy here right now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

There are no roadblocks at the beach are there?

Announced this week:

Nepal signs Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention

On behalf of Nepal, The Hague Convention on Protection of children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry adoption of 29 May 1993 was signed by H.E. Mr. Pramesh Kumar Hamal, Ambassador of Nepal to the Benelux and the European Communities on Tuesday 28 April 2009.


This is a double-edged sword at this point. It puts into place yet more rules to ensure that intercountry adoptions are more transparent (i.e. less chance for child trafficking, bribery, etc) but it also puts a lot more paperwork and education requirements onto adoptive parents.

China also signed this agreement but it didn't take effect immediately and PAP's who already had their paperwork logged-in were "grandfathered" in. We were part of that group in China but because we switched our I-171 approval over to Nepal, we will have to abide by the new Hague rules for China. That, however, is not in our immediate future.

This, though, could pose a snag for Nepal. Nobody really knows what it will mean for those of us who have already filed our I-600A forms (which leads to the I-171 form eventually). If, for some reason, they stop the process of adoptions right now in order to implement the Hague convention, we will have a lot more paperwork to do.

Yet more rumors are circulating that matches with families have already happened but I have yet to see anything more than blogs posting that they have heard this from their agencies--no names, no pictures, nothing on the boards with absolute surety to indicate that this is so. And the numbers of matches people are claiming to have happened don't all agree either--it's anywhere from 3 matches to 30 matches so add it to the list I made on this post, which, btw, was apparently linked by someone else to one of the larger Nepali adoption boards and received over 1,000 hits in one day.

People are desperate for information. My post probably didn't help in that regard.

For now, Megan sent out this email today:

Nepal, as many of you know , signed the Hague convention on April 28th. It will still need to be ratified before it would go into effect. Since all of you have filed your I-600A I have written to the US State Dept to confirm that your case will be considered a “transition case”…… in which case it should go to completion. I will keep you informed and will send updates as information is received.

Today we leave for our 10 day beach vacation. I have 3 books to read, none of which involve adoption, parenting, or government beauracracy. We will have only sporadic internet use which means no reading of blogs, no posting on this blog, no checking of Nepali websites and news portals.

Sounds like heaven to me.

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