To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, May 7, 2012

Adoption News: Fingerprinting and Beyond

I owe you all an apology.  A BIG FAT one, actually, don't I?  Yes, my's been FAR too long since I posted a blog; and that's just unacceptable.

I'm going to try to make it up to you, my dear ones, by posting several blogs in the next few days.  I'll be *attempting* to get a jump on the chaos that is sure to follow.  Mom starts her pre-stem-cell-transplant chemo on the 16th of this month; so, I'll be back in good, ole Zion, IL by this weekend, I'm sure.  BUT, that's for another post!  This post is about our I-600A's!  Well, the fingerprinting part anyway.

Mr. C and I got our first break from the cancer center this past week.  We hadn't been home since January, and before that, November.  I've LOVED being able to be with mom during this most important journey, but I will be honest with you, I desperately  needed a break.

It turned out to be decent timing, because we received news from the USCIS that our initial I-600A paperwork had been accepted, and that we needed to come in for our (*hopefully last*) set of fingerprints for the I-171H.  This is exciting news, because the I-600A is the document that applies to the advance placement of an orphan.  It is essentially the LAST step before we receive our referral (match with our child)!

The problem was that the USCIS office we were to report to was in Ft. Smith, AR and we had to be there at 8 a.m. on the morning of April 30th.  Hooray.  Not only did we have to get back to Branson, but we would have to turn right around and make the 4 hour journey to Ft. Smith to get fingerprinted again.  Ugh!  I was dreading it so badly, but I knew I didn't want to reschedule knowing how important the next three months were going to be for mom and her last phase of cancer treatment.  So, we sallied forth!

We got home to Branson around 11 p.m. on Saturday the 28th and slept like logs 'til 3 p.m. on Sunday the 29th.  Then, we got up, ate, and packed smaller bags out of the clothes in our suitcases and drove to Ft. Smith; where Mr. C had wisely booked us a hotel room.  We got in late and went straight to bed (all we want to do lately is SLEEP!).  8 a.m. came far too quickly, but we were up, checked out, and in the car to the USCIS office in record time.

Of course, it started to rain; but we were excited to be on our way to finishing the last thing between us and our referral - weeeee! 

Mr. C and I in the car with our I-600A fingerprinting summons. *so official*
As tired as we were (and when I say "tired", I mean "totally, freaking exhausted beyond belief"), we were glad we got to the office when we did.  We were literally the first in line; which not only meant that we would be the first to be processed, but we also got to stand under the awning while others who had also been summoned for 8 a.m. on April 30th had to stand in the rain by order of the very "friendly" (yeah, that's sarcasm there) officer who checked you in, "one family at a time".  (Oh, and did I mention he would not let anyone into the building a second before 8 a.m. on the dot?  Yeah, nice guy.)

Once Mr. C and I got in the door, the super kind guard/officer (let's call him, Mr. Happypants, shall we?) instructed us to not make sudden moves and to empty our pockets slowly into two plastic bins he had sitting on his desk.  I had nothing in my pocket (had not even brought my purse knowing it would just be rummaged through anyway); so, I proceeded to walk through the metal detector.  It beeps immediately.

This sent Mr. Happypants into a frothy-mouthed tizzy.  "I thought you said you had nothing in your pockets!"  He said accusingly.  "I don't!"  I swore, turning out my pockets to prove it to him.  His eyes narrowed, "Come around and go through again."  I did.  Once again the unholy metal detector beeped at me.

Scanning me up and down through squinted eyes, Mr. Happypants stopped dead on my head.  "What holds that flower in your hair?"

Crap.  I had totally forgotten about my hairclip.  Of all days, I forgot while stepping through a metal detector at the USCIS.  Classy, Mandie.  Reeeeaaaallly classy.

"Crud, I'm sorry, yeah, it's held with a metal clip," I started to take the flower from my hair.

"NO!  Don't touch your head, ma'am!  I'm going to need you to step over here please...spread your arms and legs out, do not touch your clothes or body."

What the WHAT?!  Are you serious?!  I wanted to scream.  What did he think I was going to do, pull a poison dart from my hairclip?  I'm sort of flattered, if that's the case.  I never took myself as the type that looks like a foreign spy with mad judo-chopping skills and James Bond-esque weaponry at my disposal; but apparently Mr. Happypants had full faith in me.

I had never been frisked before, but honestly it wasn't as degrading as I thought it would be.  Mr. Happy pants was surprisingly gentle about it all.  I can't wait to tell Desmond this story one day.  I hope he knows that I'd go through this scenario a million more annoying times if it meant I got to finally bring him home.

When I was found to be blow-dart free, Mr. C and I were ushered to the "help desk" (which is an oxymoron of a statement if ever there was one) where a very "bright and cheery" girl (again, sarcasm, people!) took our fingerprint summons and gave us a number - 82. 

About 15 minutes later, a tall woman came out of a thick, metal door and called out, "Number 82, please!"  That was us!  I was up first, and Mr. C could not be near me while the fingerprinting was done.  (I don't know if they thought he was going to try to tamper with them or something, but he had to sit all by his lonesome about 20 feet away on a folding chair.) 

After nearly snapping off both my pinkies, because they're "too small to get a good imprint of the swirl patterns", I was done!  Mr. C was through quickly (guess he has better pinkies than I do), and I thought we were done when the lady performing our fingerprinting got a worried look on her face.  She came and asked me for my summons again and took it in a side office and shut the door.


Sure enough, when she came back she had the great news that my fingerprints had to be done over again.  "I forgot to put in your social; so, it invalidated them as soon as I tried to upload them.  They're gone."

Great.  This time I thought my pinkies were goners for sure, but the digits made it through intact - all 10 of them.  *whew!* 

We were quickly ushered out the door, and that was it.  All that stress and headache and driving and exhaustion for about 30 minutes tops of fingerprinting and procedure.  I wanted to take a picture of the USCIS office, but Mr. Happypants came outside to tell me that "photography was not allowed".  So, I sneaked a quick one through the dash window when he wasn't looking:

I. am. such. a. rebel.  Ha!

Not too exciting really (except for Mr. Happypants).  We were done, and that was all that mattered.  After talking to the Holt Korea team, we should be able to safely say that a referral should be coming our way by July or August; but with things the way they are, I wouldn't be surprised if it was more like September when it finally arrived.  That's okay, though, we have enough going on with my mom right now; so, we're not worried about timing.  God has a perfect plan anyway.

After the fingerprinting, we got in the car and headed directly back to Branson where we've been ever since.  It's been strange being away from the CTCA, and especially sad; because while we were gone, our dear, dear friend Vince Guereca passed away after his second stem cell transplant.  This is another topic that deserves (and will get) it's own post, but suffice it to say, Mr. C and I are heart-broken; and while we know God is good and in charge always, it's been particularly difficult to reconcile this situation in our hearts and minds. 

Like I said earlier, we will be heading back to Zion this weekend, but in the meantime, we've been sleeping in, eating at our favorite Branson restaurants, seeing friends and family, and spending loads of time with our precious, little fur-child, Eagan.

Eagan Fitzgerald Conner...being cute on his mama and daddy's bed (ie: HIS bed).

We also had a chance to buy a few more fun items for Desmond:

More and more books.  This kid has a serious library already, but I love adding to it.  Books were my treasures as a child, and I hope to pass that love of books on to Dez.
A "monster" bowl and spoon, car and robot plates, and a cutlery to go caddy with chopsticks included!
That is all there is to say about our fingerprinting adventures...more bloggies to come - I pinkie swear with my now hanging-by-a-thread pinkie fingers!

All the Love in the World,


  1. The journey to a child is always a crazy ride but so worth it! So excited for you guys to get your referral in God's timing!

  2. Loved it! Great adventure for sure!!

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