I recently told you how our case has been passed from the US Embassy in Ethiopia to the USCIS in Nairobi.
Well, nothing for a few days at least. Our case was sent on Tuesday the 21st. It takes 1-2 weeks to get to Nairobi. We won’t hear anything until it’s received. Then, they will either review the information and clear our case (what we’re hoping for) or ask for more evidence that the birth mother willingly and knowingly gave up her children. The official term for that is Request for Evidence, or RFE. The RFE process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (!)
If we get a RFE, it is up to us to provide that evidence. There are a few ways to do that. Many families hire a private investigator who is not affiliated with the agency or orphanage to research the case. The investigator will talk to the birth mom and to everyone else involved in the case to determine if the mom willingly relinquished her rights or if something shady happened. Even if we don’t get a RFE we are researching investigators. The investigators often uncover facts about the kids that you wouldn’t otherwise know. I know an overseas private investigator all sounds a little television-dramaish, but it’s actually fairly common in complicated adoption cases. If we get a RFE a private investigator is not our only option, but is one we would strongly consider.
The good news is that most cases that go to USCIS do end up passing and the kids do go to their adoptive homes.
If a case doesn’t pass it’s a really weird situation. We are their legal parents in Ethiopia. We could move there, get a house, and live as a normal family. We just couldn’t bring them to the US. If a case doesn’t pass and the family doesn’t move to ET, then it’s up to that family to provide care for the kids.
But we are hopeful our case will pass soon after arriving at USCIS without a RFE. Without going into all the details, there were some papers that were not submitted to the Embassy. The papers, combined with the time we spent with the birth mom, help us feel comfortable that the mother fully understood what she was doing, that she could have changed her mind before court, that the children weren’t trafficked, etc etc. My personal theory is that this is all a misunderstanding. We agreed to send the birth mom pictures, letters, and so on. When she was told she would never see her kids again I think it freaked her out. Those were not the terms she agreed to. Those papers have been submitted to USCIS and we are hopeful they will help clear our case without a RFE.
Many of you have asked how we’re feeling. Thank you for that.
It is not an easy time. We were hoping to leave this weekend to go pick them up. Now we don’t know if we’ll get to pick them up in 3 weeks or 3 months or longer. Or ever, for that matter.
I am not going to be able to travel due to the pregnancy and that sucks. I’m due in just 9 weeks. As my friend Lainey put it, “what if the pressure does something weird with the fluid in your belly and you explode?” The husband is going with his mother. It really bums me out when I think about them going without me. I think about picking them up from the orphanage, taking them back to the guest house, and spending those first few hours and days together as a family. I’m going to miss out on that. And that sucks.
I also worry that the kids will get home at around the same time the baby comes. This year is going to be really really really hard no matter what. But if everything happens within a couple weeks? Oh heavens. I can’t even think about it. What if the husband is traveling when I go into labor? There are so many unknowns and that is hard.
But there are some positives. I won’t be taking a week of vacation to travel; I’ll have those days to spend at home with the kids. When they get here, the husband and I won’t both be jet lagged and exhausted from traveling. I’ll be fresh and ready to handle things while the husband gets some sleep. And we are so excited that his mom gets to go. She has only been on a plane once! She will be so good with the kids and it will be a really exciting trip for her.
Me not traveling is a given at this point. I’m seriously bummed about it but it is what it is. I can focus on the negative or focus on the positives and I’m choosing to focus on the positives.
Emotionally the husband and I are in different places. Although I’m frustrated about things getting delayed and it really upsets me to think about the kids sitting over there waiting for us, I have pretty strong feelings that we will bring them home-it’s just a matter of when. And I’m pretty hopeful that those extra papers will help clear our case quickly. My naturally optimistic outlook is out in full force. The husband? Not so much. He’s pretty much done with this whole process. It seems that throughout our entire process nothing has gone the way we hoped or thought it would, and he thinks this will be the same way. He’s preparing for the worst- for USCIS to issue a RFE, for us to spend a bunch of money and time trying to prove our case only to have them reject it, and then being put into a situation where we pretty much have to either move to Ethiopia or annul our adoption and give up the kids.
So that’s where we’re currently at. I doubt I’ll blog again until we have an update, which could be as soon as a few days from now or over a week from now. Thanks for all of your concern over the past week; it truly does make this easier.