Monday, April 16, 2012

Returning of original USCIS paperwork

Hey there fellow adoptive parents! I just posted "THE US SIDE" and my comment box was lit up with "WHAT?!?! You can get your IR-3 Visa packet back from USCIS??!?!" Apparently so my friends, apparently so. This packet was the one given to you in Russia at the US Embassy in Moscow with all kinds of tape and seals all over it. The one that you had to promise NOT to open or your child would be refused entry into the United States. You remember? They made it seem as if it were the Holy Grail and if your human eyes gazed upon the contents they would burn out of your head? Yeah, that one. Rumor has it that not only does it contain another set of original documents, but MAY also contain tidbits of information regarding your adoptive child that you did not have privy to in Russia. I've even heard of one family getting their's back that had a photo of their child at the time of birth (wouldn't that be WONDERFUL???) Now, for me that is enough motivation to see EXACTLY what was in that sacred envelope.
The only stipulation is that you must already have received your child's Citizenship certificate in the mail (usually takes about 2 months after returning home and is sent automatically)
Here is the information you need along with the link to fill out the form. You will need to have the form Notarized, attach a copy of your driver's license and passport, and pop it in the mail. They say it will take anywhere from a few weeks up to TWO years to get the packet back (some kinda window huh? And you thought the Cable repair man was bad....) But I say, it's worth a shot right?
HERE is the form (g-884 application)
And HERE are their more detailed instructions.
If I can be of any assistance to you, because the form is a little confusing....Please leave me a comment with your email and I will be happy to provide you with a sample or answer any questions you might have.

The US Side...

When your foreign adopted child comes home on a IR3 Visa (Don't worry there won't be a quiz on this later.....) It basically means they are a US Citizen when your plane touches down on US soil. Now, you may think after killing at least a forest of trees with adoption paperwork, you are finally done! Wrong!
Even if you child is a US Citizen there are still some remaining hoops.
  • Preparing 4 Post-Adoption Reports (PARs) over the next 3 years
  • Filing for the Adoption Tax Credit
  • Securing Your Child's Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Applying for a Social Security Card
  • Applying for a U.S. Passport
  • Applying paperwork to USCIS to for the return of your original Visa packet (you know the one they warned you if you opened your eyeballs would burn out of your head, your fingers would be chopped off if you opened?)
Now after years of paperwork, I'll be the first to admit, those things on the list are the last thing on your mind. PARs and Social Security Cards are a necessity, unless there is problem their citizenship documents come automatically, but the rest.....ahhhh....things you can't bring yourself to do when you feel like if you have to have one more thing notarized YOU.WILL.JUST.DIE.

So, I waited a year. But now it's time to get crackalackin'

Tax credit- done. Just waiting to see if we get a check or an audit letter.....

Passport- Pictures done, forms filled out, documents gathered, appointment in a few hours. It's scary because you have to send the ORIGINAL documents in the mail. You know the ones that if you loose you have to go to Russia to replace? Gulp.

The return of the original Visa packet from USCIS custody- signed, notarized, mailed. And we all know about my relationship with USCIS. No? You can read about it HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE. I could go on....but needless to say if something will go wrong with this fairly straightforward request it will. I am still convinced I am on some kinda wanted poster in their office. Time for returning the original packet? 2 months TO TWO YEARS. Really USCIS? Can't you do a little better than that? So most likely in 2014 we should be getting Charlie's documents back. :)

Re-Adoption- There just isn't a lot of good information out there on this topic. It's kinda vague and cloudy. I've googled it, researched it, and I don't know what else to say other than I should do it. I could hire an attorney to do it (for several thousand dollars) or in our State, do it myself for like $200. I feel I can do it myself. So I put my law firm cap back on and got to work. Drafting a Petition, Summons, Verification, Cover Sheets, marking exhibits. Praying I don't screw up a court proceeding because I am cheap broke. This is the clear reason why I should do it:
  1.  We will have a US Birth Certificate in English. (No translations, no funny looks when you shell out pages of Russian documents that CANNOT be replaced to do something as enroll your kid in little league.) With this comes ease in applying to college, college scholarships, marriage licenses, if he ever wants to adopt children of his own, etc.
  2. If When we loose a birth certificate we can pay $5 to our local vital statistics office instead of $5000 for a return trip to Moscow.
Now the hazy facts:
  1.  There have been tales of orphanages being shut down for ethical reasons and as a fall out, those adoptions under their reign, being brought into question. Now, I haven't been able to find any facts about these cases or what happened to those children. But that scares the CRAP out of me. Not saying our orphanage was anything but wonderful, but what if someday it ceases to be wonderful? What if, what if, what if. Peace of mind is worth $200. 
  2. Inheritance issues- why wouldn't he be able to inherit the $567 we leave him? I don't know.
  3. Ease in duel citizenship/renunciation issues. 
So, we're (I'm) going for it. It's all ready to go and I'm going to have it clocked at the Clerks office on later this morning. Deep breath and pray I'm not screwing something up!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I drawing Mama!

A tip for all parents and future parents. When your child comes to you and says "I drawing!" Stop what you are doing, smile and say show me honey! If they can't bring you a piece of paper ask them to take you to their drawing.
So, I am working on the re-adoption process for Charlie. (more on that later....) Charlie and I are at the church making 10 zillion photocopies. Charlie is walking around with our church custodian changing out trash bags. (The child still LOVES to clean!) When he changes our church secretary's bag, she pays him two quarters. Pretty decent pay, huh?
Next stop, the law firm where I use to work to get some documents notarized. I should tell you at this point, my old firm is in a beautiful downtown building. It is decorated very nicely and they do a great job with upkeep. Just keep that in mind. Charlie is being so good. We've already made passport photos, copied and sorted and he is quietly rolling his quarters around the desks and carpet. He scoots further and further away from me, but I can still hear him and every two seconds he comes back to the desk and says "I drawing mama!" I keep telling him "Good job baby! Keep working!" Sign, notarize, "I draw good mama!" "Ok sweetheart, we're almost done! Keep drawing!"
THEN....a co-worker comes around the corner and says...."Uh, Sarah?? You should come see this."
I turn the corner to see markings all over the wall and white glossy door. I almost threw up. I mean ALL over the wall and door. Grey markings....NO....gasp....could they be scratched into the finish? Oh my gosh. Charlie beams "See mama, I draw!!!"
Apparently, also for your future reference, quarters and I'm assuming other coins, will make a mark on painted finishes. Oi.
So I panic for a few minutes then run for some Clorox Wipes and start rubbing. Thank HEAVEN it comes out of the door with a little elbow grease. The wall fades to a faint mark that could have been made by any run away cart or binders.
Just a lesson learned my friends, a lesson learned.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
                                            -Isaiah 53:5

Happy Easter! We have so much to be joyful about! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Today was a VERY good Friday!
We finalized Jack's adoption! What a wonderful day to remind us of all the wonderful blessings God has poured out upon us.
Turns out, court in America is a lot easier than court in Russia. 10 minutes and we were done. Even though it was short, it was so sweet. Jack smiled and talked through the whole proceeding, adding his two cents to everything that was said. It was just a precious day in the life of our family!