The US Embassy (USE) has to clear adoption cases in Ethiopia. Before they clear a case, the adoptive parents are the legal parents in Ethiopia but cannot bring the kids back to the United States. The USE found our case to be “not clearly approvable” and sent it on to their superiors, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The nearest USCIS office is in Nairobi, Kenya.
We woke up to an email from USCIS today. Seeing an email made us happy. They had 30 days to respond and it had only been 4.
But that’s where the good news ends.
We got a Request for Evidence, or RFE. The RFE included a transcript from the birth mom interview with the US Embassy. Reading through it, we realized the details of our case are even more complicated than we had thought. The birth mom made a lot of statements that completely contradict things she had said before, even things she had said just a couple of seconds before! Now the weight is on us to provide evidence that the birth mom did relinquish her children, that she does understand what adoption means, and that she does want her kids to be raised abroad.
I am kicking myself- like a big hard kick right to the shins kicking myself- for not being more proactive about this. I wish we had already hired an investigator to begin gathering these details. I wish we were finishing up our evidence collection instead of starting it. I wish we had talked to the birth mom right after that interview. But we didn’t. I put too much faith in the additional documents we obtained and thought chances were good that we wouldn’t get a RFE. Seriously mad at myself about that right now.
We have 90 days to respond to the RFE. There are a few ways we can go about that and we are entertaining all options, but will most likely end up hiring an investigator who does these sorts of things. After we submit our RFE, USCIS usually responds quickly. At that point they will either clear us or ask for even MORE evidence.
So our next few weeks will be spent not preparing for a baby or helping big kids transition to our home. Instead they will be spent communicating with lots of people in Ethiopia and Kenya. I don’t really have any idea on a timeline for how this will all work out, but it will be several weeks at least.
Thank you all for your support and concern during this hard time.