Archive for September, 2009

And it ends…

Friday, September 18th, 2009

I don’t really mean for the title to sound as depressing as it sounds, it’s actually a good end.


We JUST got back from traveling to Memphis to interview with Homeland Security so they could review all of our documents and give us final approval for Ellery’s citizenship. But first… a little back story about how we got here.

(This may be a little recap for some of you, so sorry)

While in China we learned that our i600A form had expired. This caused us to almost have to spend an extra two weeks in China until we could get another form completed and approved. However, the US Embassy in Guangzhou allowed Ellery to travel into the US with a foreign visitor permit. That expired about 8 months ago. So, we’ve been trying to get her ‘status adjustment’ processed since about two months after we got home. We talked to a lawyer who wanted anywhere from $3000-6000 and so we decided to just file the forms ourselves.

This would prove to be a little naive since we just assumed the process would work. Month after month we’d check the Homeland Security site and Ellery’s ‘process’ date slipped months and months until finally we called and learned that they had misplaced her form. They didn’t lose it, it just more or less slipped out of the processing queue. Awesome!

So, we got someone on the phone who put it back in the queue.

Problem solved, right? Nope. Guess what happened AGAIN? Yeah, it got out of the queue. So, the last time we called we ended up with a sympathetic person who escalated our case and said they would send it to Memphis and then we’d be contacted with how to proceed.

Time frame here? 16 months. This whole process should have taken 3-4 months. Instead it was 16 and we still had to wait another 30 days before Memphis contacted us. We can’t file income taxes because we don’t have a Social Security Number for Ellery so we can’t use the GIANT refund the government is sitting on because they won’t let her be a citizen. There is a cycle in there somewhere and I’m sure it’s vicious.

Anyway, fast forward to two weeks ago and we get a letter from the Memphis office of Homeland Security telling us they would like to interview Ellery and her husband (what the?). Obviously a form-letter, but still a little weird. The date? Right in the middle of the time we are going to be in Florida on vacation. ¬†What’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh yeah: awesome! The letter says that we can reschedule our interview by sending them a letter and requesting a new date and my wife notices we can re-schedule on-line as well. So, we do both and show up today for our timeslot (which we were approved for on-line).

The guy at the window tells us the website schedule isn’t the same schedule as the interview schedule and there is no one there today who can interview us and that we’ll have to come back at some later date.

My heart sank. We had just driven 3.5 hours for nothing…

My wife (bless her) loses her damned mind on the guy telling him that we’ve been waiting for almost two years now and we’ve been misplaced, mishandled and mistreated the entire time. So, the guy at the window leaves to go talk to a supervisor.

And stays gone a looooooong time…

He gives us back all of our paperwork and tells us to go to the interview office in the next room. Which is completely empty (since today isn’t an interview day). A Homeland Security employee comes out and invites us in, checks over the paperwork and apologizes for the problems with the process but he says the magic words “At this point she is approved and is a U.S. Citizen”. All of the frustration and anxiety melted away. FINALLY our baby girl was here legally and this whole thing would be at an end.

The whole journey has been amazing and honestly it’s something I never thought I would do. The experiences are something I will always cherish, the good and the bad. They’ve both been a part of this amazing process of bringing this amazing little girl into our life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything (except maybe the part where I had the flu).

This will likely be the last post here, but I plan on keeping this up as a guide to others. Hopefully someone will learn one little thing that they didn’t know before they came here – and that will make it all worth it for me. I also leave it up here for us as I can still imagine myself typing in the updates on the day we got Ellery and she was playing on the bed behind me as I was typing.

Thanks for being here with us.