Wow, today was a crazy day. It got off to a wonderful start as we all had an outstanding night of sleep. The girls are turning out to be wonderful sleepers like their big brother Noah. Thank you to everyone that has been praying specifically for this as your prayers are working!
First thing on the schedule was the U.S. Embassy which we have been told (and from our experience in Ethiopia) should be straight forward and quick. I knew it was going to be a long day because while we were at security a Special Agent came out from the embassy, introduced himself and pulled my mom and another guy in the group aside. They had taken pictures of the embassy and the Special Agent was checking to see if they had security cameras in the picture. The other guy in our group was fine, my mom was not... she had to delete her picture. Can't take my Mom anywhere without her causing trouble! :) He was nice and helped her take this picture of the embassy though.
Over the next 6 hours we were in the embassy at the US Consulate Office three times and the Rwandan Immigration office three times. Thankfully the two buildings are only about 4 blocks apart, but carrying bags, kids and lots of paper work made for a very stressful time. Every family in our group had paperwork issues at some point. For most of the day it looked like we would have to stay in Rwanda a few extra days and our trip to Ethiopia would also be extended. However, even through all the chaos, stress, tears,and uncertainty God showed up countless times. Instead of giving a detailed account of what happened (as that would take awhile) I'll just share some of the ways God intervened today:
- We forgot a receipt we needed... the Consulate let us not pay the amount today and wait until Ethiopia next week. She shouldn't do this! Also, tonight my good friend Michael Dean spent two hours looking for the receipt and sending me electronic copies of it!
- Rwandan Passports were ready on time! This wasn't expected as we turned in our applications yesterday.
- One family needed a passport re-issued... happened in 1 hour. That NEVER happens... especially in a country where time has little meaning.
- The Consulate stayed 3 1/2 hours late just to help us! She missed a 9/11 celebration, embassy cookout, and shortened a meeting with her boss (the US Ambassador to Rwanda) to accommodate us.
- Extreme favor with security guards, the Consulate, the Rwandan Immigration office, and our driver. All these individuals played key roles in our day and while at first were not willing to cooperate, and should not have done what they did... in the end they DID!
Some lessons for future adoptive families about this stage of the process:
- Take your USCIS I600A Filing Receipt. This is a $670 mistake if you don't. Our agency did not tell us to bring this.
- Actually, take ALL your adoption documents and receipts with you on the trip. It's better to have everything then to need something that is back at home.
- Don't sign your I600 or even fill it out until you are at the Consulate. And then DON'T sign it until you are standing in front of him/her and she tells you to.
- Double check all information on the passport for your adoptive child(ren)'s application to make sure it matches your other adoption documents (birth certificate, court ruling, letter from the ministry, etc.)
- When you get your passport, double check the information on it... especially the birth dates.
- Before you go to the Immigration Office or Consulate make sure all the birthdates for your children match on your various Rwandan documentation. Keira's birthday is in May but do to documentation issues it will be January 1st on all her official documentation.