Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kudos to US Citizenship and Imigration Services (USCIS)

Today I took our I-600A to the USCIS office in Phoenix. This is a petition to adopt a foreign born orphan. Usually it is just mailed in, but I took a chance and went there in person not knowing if they would even see me without an appointment. Not only did they take my application, but an officer actually came out and spoke to me! She even got us a fingerprint appointment for this Saturday! Normally you may have to wait several weeks for this. She also said she would expidite our file as fast as she could, considering what's going on in Vietnam. She even gave me her phone number and the only ones who ever have their phone numbers are the adoption agencies. I was so impressed and elated, that I teared up. One step closer for us.

Our family was also featured in our local paper today (Queen Creek Independent), in hopes that we may receive some donations. All though it is great to have things move forward quickly, the "balance due" still looms over us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The simple life

Although the financial aspects of this adoption have been stressful, we have learned a wonderful thing. We have made a lot of sacrifices: no vacations, very few outings, no uneccessary purchases and buying only what we need each paycheck. Although I can't say I won't look forward to having a little extra money for a vacation or to go to a movie, it is all worth it. I was pretty proud that I only spent about $200 on groceries for 2 weeks as opposed to the $280 or $325 we normally spent. I was hoping the economic stimulus check would come today but it hasn't. I'm calling everyone I know to see if they got theirs yet because we are so anxious to get it!

I spoke to adoption agency today and they want everything ready to go to Vietnam in June so it has time to be certified and authenticated before the July 1st deadline when no new applications will be accepted. We hare going to have our final home study visit on May 6th and hope it will be completed soon after that.

We are going to file our I-600A on Friday with Homeland Security to get permission to adopt a forign born orphan. This is just a formality, but costs $830. Once that is approved, we will receive the I-700 which gives us permission to adopt him. I hope that part goes fast too because it needs to go with dossier.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The pressure is on!

This is the first entry to our Blog. The purpose of this blog is to share our experiences with international adoption.

The MOU (memorandoum of understanding) between Vietnam and the U.S. is expiring in September. This will cease adoptions between the U.S. and Vietnam until a new agreement can be created. Last time this occured, the closure lasted 2 years. This is due to the improprioties in their documentation to determine that the children are indeed orphans. There has been a suspicion of baby trafficing in the past. This isn't the case with us though, because Hai came to the orphanage at age 8. None the less though we will be equally affected.

The biggest hurdle we face now is the shortened time frame to pay all the required fees. Right now we have another $10,000 to come up with before we can travel (we've already paid $6,000). We are desperate to bring Hai home because it is like he is already ours. If we lost him now, it would be like grieving the loss of a child. We are hoping to be able to get donations so we can be sure to travel before September. The local paper agreed to do an article on us to make our situation known to the community.

I have to believe that everything will work out. This is probably Hai's only chance at a forever family and he is our chance to complete our family. So spread the word and do what you can. We will do whatever we can in return to "pay it foward" too.

Here are some web addressess if you would like to read up on it.

U.S. alleges baby-selling rackets in Vietnam
Embassy report says lax policing lets adoption fraud flourish

From Joint Council on Children's International Services
Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam
January 2008The Department of State warns potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers of the risk of initiating new adoptions from Vietnam at this time. The 2005 Memorandum of Agreement, required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam, expires on September 1, 2008. The United States is strongly committed to continuing intercountry adoptions from Vietnam if possible. Our primary concern is to ensure that the children and families involved in the adoption process are protected from exploitation. The Government of Vietnam shares this concern. Both countries acknowledge that more needs to be done. Discussions about revision and renewal of the Agreement are a priority for both governments, but there is no certainty a new Agreement will be in place on September 1. In view of the processing time required in Vietnam from placement to the Giving and Receiving Ceremony, an adoption process begun now cannot be completed before the current Agreement expires. We do not know whether the Government of Vietnam will continue to process pending cases if the current Agreement expires before a new Agreement takes effect. Moreover, given concerns about the existing level of protection for children in Vietnam, it is unlikely that the Agreement can be renewed in its current form.
The United States Government stands ready to support Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen and improve accountability in its adoption system and to develop its capacity to regulate adoptions. In some cases, our background investigations have revealed evidence of irregularities, ranging from forged or altered documentation to cases where children have been offered for adoption without the apparent knowledge or consent of their birth parents. In response to these problems, in November 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State instituted new procedures to verify that children identified for placement meet the requirements of Vietnamese and U.S. law, before the child has been adopted under Vietnamese law. The Embassy strongly advises prospective adoptive parents not to travel to Vietnam until they have received notification from the Embassy that their case is ready for final processing and travel is appropriate. Parents should contact the Embassy immediately if anyone, including their adoption service provider, encourages them to travel to Vietnam prior to receiving this notification. The Embassy can work together with adoption service providers, Vietnam’s Department of International Adoptions, and local authorities to resolve issues such as the scheduling of a Giving and Receiving Ceremony. We continue to urge Vietnam to comply with the terms of the 2005 Agreement and to establish a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in adoptions.