Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–Our Embassy Appointment

Tuesday Oct. 19, 2010

(This is another day where I only had a few words written.  Oh c’mon, memory…serve me well!)

Today was a big day.  It was our interview day at the US Embassy.  Today would make it possible to finally move forward with the last few necessary steps to bring Blake and Lauren home.  Of course we’ve loved a chance to experience DRC, but home is the end goal!

We asked our driver to come super early.  Things here run on Congo time, which isn’t at all like overly anal American time.  Thankfully we planned like that because he was very late.  There were five families who were getting more and more nervous by the minute!  He did eventually arrive, but it was going to be close.  On our way there, someone chatted with Diana and she told us not to worry, that they would see us even if we were a little late. 

Nerves were just high that day, period.  There had been some confusion with the Embassy as to whether or not they had our children’s passports, and if everything was in order.  It should have been, as our passports had been delivered at our drop-off appointment, but we just weren’t 100% certain.  Just in case, we all formulated a plan.  That’s the kind of stuff you do when you have hours every day to fill, I guess.

Our plan? Shockaweblame.

You have to say it really fast, all mumbled together….shockaweblame.  That’s how we did it. :)

First step, shock.  What??  What do you mean that you don’t have everything?  Second step, awe.  (Okay, I confess…I can’t really remember what that step was about.  Hubby and I are discussing it right now.  Are we in awe that things were handled that way?  Or was it more of ah, like a disappointment.  If anyone from Group 2 is reading this and can help this poor mama’s memory, please do!  Anyways…)  Third step, blame.  We were told that everything was in order during drop off.  If things weren’t, then they’ve lost something, or weren’t responsible in checking everything. 

The Embassy is set up with a few doors off on the side of the room, and then chairs out in the main waiting area.  The waiting area is only maybe 8 to 9 feet wide.  One of our families got called back to one of the doors along the side, and they were in there much longer than Group 1 families had been last week, but they came out and said all was well.  Whew.  One down, four more to go. 

When it was our turn, they only called one of our children.  Hubby and I took Blake and Lauren back, though.  The consul looked very confused.  You could tell she didn’t know we were adopting two children.  We filled her in, though, and she went and retrieved the other binder.  She asked us several questions, all pretty simple and basic.  How many children do we have at home?  How did Blake and Lauren come to be available for adoption?  Just basic things about our family and this journey. 

When she got to Blake’s binder, though, she checked all his stuff and told us there was a problem.  His passport had a typo on it.  We knew that “Blake” had been spelled wrong and we had been pretty concerned about it, but Diana told us many times not to worry, that it was insignificant. 

The consul was not only concerned about the misspelling, but also that the name orders were reversed.  His middle name is a Congolese name and it was placed on the top line.  In the US, the top line is our last name.  We explained to her (remember, there was just a lot of turnover at the Embassy, that’s what caused the whole week long delay in the first place, and she was not familiar with this process) that that is just the way that the Congolese do their passports.  All of the children being adopted had passports like that.

She wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t a problem.  She said she would need to look into this, and that she was not able to approve us today.  We held our still sick little boy in our arms, knowing we needed to get back to medical care in the States ASAP, and I started crying.  She was sympathetic and kind, but insisted that she could not approve a child with “falsified documents.”  That didn’t sit so well with us.  Hubby kindly told her that we hadn’t falsified anything, and simply had a passport that was printed just like all Congolese passports are.  She quickly apologized and said that she wasn’t concerned that we were falsifying documents, but that these documents we had presented simply weren’t accurate. 

We left the tiny side room we were in, and soon realized that we weren’t the only ones facing this disappointment.  A friend of mine from the States used a different adoption agency, and happened to have her interview the same day we did ours.  I saw her in the waiting area crying, and found out that the same thing had happened with her daughter’s passport and she had been told the same thing. 

We were told to wait to see if anything could be resolved, so we sat there the rest of the afternoon.  It was terrible. 

We stepped outside a few times to call Diana, who was now back in the States.  She is amazing.  Have I said that before?  Simply amazing.  She dropped everything and began making phone calls trying to help us.  (She does not run an adoption agency.  She has a full-time high-powered job.  She facilitates these adoptions in her “free time!” )  Thankfully, by the end of the day (even after their normal closing time), we were told that the switching around of names was okay.  They now understood that that was the standard practice in DRC so that a Congolese name was on the top line.  So most of the families were relieved and told they could pick up their children’s visas next Monday. 

Us, though?  She was still concerned about Blake’s misspelling.  She told us she had to contact the State Department in Washington, D.C. and that she’d let us know. 

After more phone calls to Diana, she unfortunately told us that if we couldn’t get past this with them, we might have to proceed with Lauren and leave Blake behind in DRC while everything got straightened out.  I was sick. to. my. stomach.

It was now dark outside, we had been there so long, and Hubby and I felt defeated.  We had traveled 28 hours by plane, spent a week in country doing nothing to move our process forward because our interviews had been bumped back, missed our kids at home, had a sick baby who still hadn’t seen a trustworthy doctor, and we were being told he might not receive a visa.

We headed back to the guest house, forced ourselves to eat some dinner, filled in the rest of the group, prayed that we would just continue to trust that God would work it all out, and headed to bed.

(Since we spent the entire day at the Embassy, and it is illegal in DRC to take pictures in public, we didn’t take a single picture today.  Sorry for the long entry of text only!)

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