We leave for Ethiopia in ten days and life is a whirlwind.
Our trip will last twelve days and we're planning on doing some pretty intense traveling while we're there. We are only allowed to meet with our babies three times, for an hour each session; nobody wants them to get too attached to us only to have us leave to go home. Therefore, the first four days in-country will be spent meeting our babes and going to our Ethiopian court date and the last six days will be occupied with visiting some towns outside Addis Ababa. My parents and Paul's mom will very generously be taking care of Atticus and Norah at our house.
I could go on and on about how excited we are to meet these two little ones. We can't wait to cuddle them up and start making a connection with them. Meeting two toddlers is going to be a very different experience than meeting Atticus and Norah as infants. We're trying to prepare ourselves for a chilly reception, especially since we've been told that our new son is wary of strangers and cameras. I could also expound about how much I'm dreading having to say goodbye to our little ones with no idea of when we'll get U.S. Embassy clearance to bring them home. I'm trying not to dwell on that too much, but I have to admit that it's occupying a lot of brain space.
Meanwhile, life is nuts. Paul is taking three classes on top of his full-time job and his final papers and exams are all approaching at top speed. The kiddos are psyched out of their minds about Christmas and come up with all sorts of creative ideas about how we can decorate. My students have already mentally checked out for the winter holiday and seem to be consuming only holiday chocolate for breakfast. My grades were due on Monday and I had 147 essays to score and comment on before they could be entered. We aren't at all packed for Ethiopia. We don't know where we're staying once we leave Addis Ababa or how we're getting there - though we have contracted a good guide. Anti-malarial medicine needs to be prescribed and picked up. Library books have to be returned. The flex-spending account has to be spent and filed before we leave since we're not returning to work until after the new year. I don't think there's any possible way that Paul is going to be able to squeeze in dentist and optometrist appointments, but he does need to get his flu shot. We have to get a bunch of paperwork notarized. I'm pretty sure our parents would appreciate some written instructions about the kids' routine before we leave. And we should sign something giving them the right to seek medical treatment for our children...And...
We've been trucking along, assuming it will all work out and we'll be able to keep all these plates spinning without anything crashing too disastrously. Last night, however, we received notice that the fingerprints for our new kids' I-600A immigration form expire at the very beginning of January. We'd known that the I-600A will expire in April and had planned to file for a renewal in February, but we had no idea that the fingerprints would expire beforehand. How do fingerprints expire? They don't change! Aargh.
To completely understand, you must realize that A.) Expired paperwork could lead to delays in the U.S. Embassy process (i.e. coming home!) for our children. B.) Fingerprinting appointments are issued by the government and require a long drive. C.) There is no possible way that we can bypass mailing in our paperwork and waiting to be assigned a fingerprinting appointment. D.)We were told that the process can take 75 days BUT NOBODY TOLD US THEY WERE GOING TO EXPIRE IN THREE WEEKS (except for the tiny little box at the bottom of the I-600A form and when we received that 14 months ago it seemed inconceivable that we wouldn't be done with this whole process before anything expired). In the process of researching this last night, I came across something that indicated our homestudy, state police reports, medical files, and state fingerprints might need to be updated. Before we leave. Oh my freaking goodness.
To top it off, there's been a ridiculous amount of tail-chasing and drama surrounding my request to miss two.freaking.days of school before Christmas vacation. Sick leave v. personal leave, different HR people telling me different things at different times, blah, blah, blah.
It was not a good morning. Finally, someone official from our adoption agency contacted me to let me know that It Will Be Okay. As long as we file for a re-fingerprinting appointment before we leave, this shouldn't be a roadblock to achieving embassy clearance. Updating the homestudy and all that's involved with that can wait until January and we can't file it for the I-600A update until February at the earliest anyway. Sweet, sweet relief. My head is intact and saved for exploding some other day.