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USCIS Application

October 4, 2011

Once we finally collected all the paperwork we needed to send in so that our home study could be written up, we were ready to proceed to the next step. We filled out the form I-600A that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) requires for international adoption. It is basically the form the federal government uses to asses whether or not you are allowed to adopt a child internationally. This form was pretty straightforward, and we sent it in along with copies of birth and marriage certificates, our completed home study and the necessary fees required for processing and fingerprinting. We were told it could take 8-10 weeks to receive a fingerprinting appointment from the State Department, so we settled in to wait.

We were pleasantly surprised when our application was processed rather quickly and we received an appointment for fingerprinting at a local USCIS office just a few weeks after sending in the application. The appointment was for a Thursday morning, so Tim arranged to work a half day that day, and we found someone to watch our kids so that we could go in for what we expected to be a long, drawn-out ordeal.

Once again, we were pleasantly surprised. The day of our appointment came, and we arrived at the specified office about 15 minutes early. An officer came out before he opened the doors to let us know what documents and identification we needed to have out to show to the clerk and how we were to proceed once we entered the office. From there, it ran like a well-oiled machine. Tim and I showed our appointment slip and ID’s upon entering, were given papers to fill out and sat down in the waiting area. Once the paperwork was completed, we gave it to the clerk and then were directed to two separate booths where employees were waiting fingerprint us. We were in and out in less than 30 minutes. We were both shocked it had been so easy. And grateful.

The efficiency and productivity did not end there. Since Tim had taken a half day and we had plenty of time left, we went ahead and ran some other adoption-related errands, getting some forms notarized and some items mailed, all without the trouble of strapping kids in and out of car seats at each stop and entertaining a baby and toddler in waiting rooms and lines. As a list-maker, I find quite a bit of joy in checking things off my list, and this day stands out in my mind as a day I was so pleased to get to place several check marks on my list at once. Yes, I know. I am THAT girl. Lame.

Of course, as always seems to be the case, the efficient pace once again slowed to a screeching halt as we waited for our fingerprints to be processed. Not that I am complaining. We had received our fingerprint appointment in record time, and we were so grateful for that. On the other side of the process, though, waiting for the fingerprints to go through and USCIS to approve our application took quite a bit longer than expected. Having been given a 6-8 week timeline for USCIS approval, I was tempted to get frustrated every day I checked the mail during week 8 (and week 9… and week 10… and week 11) and found no approval letter. Yet, I was grateful for what God had already begun to teach me about waiting, and during this particular step, God gave me ample time to practice waiting patiently and contently. Little did I know that He was preparing me for the longest wait yet to come.

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