I've been working all morning with The Boss and a couple friends, along with our Social Worker and our Immigrations Officer to sort out the tangle of this situation and create the appropriate action plan. Some of you have offered help, some are asking which parts of the process need the most "Divine Intervention" and some of you are even offering alternatives we've not thought to consider. But all of you have been so thoughtful and encouraging and we appreciate it more than you can know.
Because Shaggy turned 18 during this process we needed to register him as an additional adult in the household. That came as no surprise and we had done clearances, etc. on the state level to preventatively have that in place. But what was missed is the Immigrations biometrics/fingerprinting and clearance so that the Supplement 3 (registering him into the adoption documentation) could be filed without delay. That step could have and should have been done in September when he was prepping for YWAM and we are playing catch up to figure out how do to it all now. It's quite tangled and messy and we're pretty sure it can be LOOSELY summarized into the four major things we are facing (and waiting for creative answers to):
- How to get him connected to our Social Worker so that she can verbally interview him for the summary that must be written to register him? This is where the spotty internet access is problematic. Along with the 12 hour time difference. *Update: This was done by phone mid-morning with the Social Worker, after Shaggy's team leader got our message to please have him call home.
- How to obtain his original signature on the documentation we must submit? We have an email into the USCIS officer but that's not likely going to yield more than a "policy" driven response.*Update: Around 11 a.m. we found out that it does indeed require an original signature. :( The Boss is working with the YWAM leadership to make that happen. Seems that they don't have much access to printers, etc. Still needs considerable prayer as we work out logistics.
- How to get him fingerprinted in as timely a manner as possible? He's at a YWAM base in Siakhounville, Cambodia - quite far from Pnam Penh, the capital and where the embassy is. His internet access to even get these messages that we need him, etc. is spotty and unreliable. Waiting till he arrives back in Denver is certainly an option but adds weeks to the wait to keep this paperwork moving.
- Add to this that we cannot just work on our end to get him fingerprinted, where ever that might be, because he has to walk in with an official gov't form (in the system at the minimum, on his person is "standard procedure") to do so. The logistics of THAT depend on many steps along the way, starting with the first two steps above being completed.
So, there you have it. We are looking at a potential delay of months over this - rather than traveling in early March as we'd hoped. And we're still wondering if the Chinese gov't side of things is going to approve the medical expedite request that we'd made back when we submitted our Letter of Intent to adopt her specifically. She has some medical needs and while she isn't fragile or critical right now, there is indication that her environment is very spare and austere and she has a need that could easily be compromised or disintegrated by a simple cold or infection at the site of her need.
This momma is really struggling, frankly. And The Boss is, too. In our hearts, she is OURS. And putting her physical needs aside for the moment (which is so hard to do), we know that another two or three months in any institutional setting WITHOUT a firm attachment and bonding experience is really hard on her heart, mind, and spirit. And potentially on future bonding. Especially in light of the fact that she will also be facing a couple surgeries in addition to the transition of becoming part of our family.
It's already an uphill battle of "learning" how to love and be loved for these little ones. Some easier than others. The older they are, the more spare their environment or their interactions with their caregivers, the harder that hill is. Not impossible, we know. But harder. And by all accounts, her location is a pretty "old school" - style orphanage. We know that it's fully equipped and medically prepared to care for her but that's only half of the picture. That grieves our hearts for her sake.
We are battling frustration and helplessness and fear. We really appreciate the prayer. And the offers of help.
As we find out more, we'll be updating here, as opposed to Facebook.