Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HOOPS, part 3

Yesterday we received wonderful news and that news came in the form of a tracking number from DHL! After over a week of wrangling and logistics, finally, proof that our package has been picked up and is on its way to the states. As I'm writing this, our package was last scanned in Germany and is probably traveling over the Atlantic this very moment. Even though we are no strangers to these sort of problems, I'm continually amazed at how difficult seemingly simple tasks become once you spread them across multiple countries, governments, and cultures. I have to tip my hat to DHL and supervisor Michael for really working the problem for us, staying on top of things, and DHL for ultimately agreeing to use their corporate account to get this package moving. Who could have thought it would have been so difficult to get foreign shipment prepaid from the US... but thats now behind us. We expect to receive the package by the end of the week where I will promptly pick it up and place it in another shipper's envelop to overnight it to Seattle where our travel agent can finally present it to the embassy. If you recall, all this was caused by a fat finger typo in the electronic visa invitation system that caused the consulate to say they would not issue my visa unless they had the original invitation in hand! But pray this is the last hangup and once they see the original, they'll go forward will issuing my business visa without problem.

As if that hasn't been bothersome enough, what occupy's more of our thoughts at the moment is preparing travel arrangements for our final trip. We initially thought about traveling this week, but for many reasons (visa trouble now being one of those), it worked out best that we didn't. With Jessica having unavoidable work travel on 11/4-11/6, our next opportunity to consider is 11/10. Even though we have not heard from Vita that Sweet Girl's passport is confirmed ready for pickup (its been almost 3 weeks now since I applied for it),   we're completely confident it will be by 11/10. So you may ask, whats the problem then? Can't the adoption company provide you with a travel itinerary knowing everything will be ready by 11/10? Afterall, thats what a travel agent would do if you were planning a vacation and those cost far less money than adoption agency. I wish it were that simple, but its not. Unfortunately, one of our biggest headaches right now is trying to decide how long we'll need on the final trip, thus deciding when the return portion of our flights should be. Let me try to explain...

Our final trip will be broken into two portions, time we need to spend in Sweet Girl's town making final preparations and time we must spend in "the capital" awaiting our clearance to enter the US. In Sweet Girl's town, we must pick up her passport (which only may be done on a Tues), attempt to cash out her bank account, get final questions answered from her caretakers regarding keeping her daily schedule consistent  and then spending enough time with her so she's comfortable enough leaving the orphanage with us for good. Once we walk out of the orphanage that final time, all three of us, we will immediately travel 3 hrs by car to "the capital" city to an apartment there. Here we will remain for what is explained to us as a 5 business day program that includes paperwork, getting Sweet Girl evaluated by doctors practicing US standards of medicine, having an in-person interview at the US embassy, and finally, Sweet Girl being issued a US visa to enter our country. Part of the challenge here is our adoption agency will only commit to this being officially a 5 business day program. Though in actuality, many of the adoptive parents we've spoken to who have gone through the exact same thing swear up and down it only takes 3 days and is never know to take the full 5 days.

So here is where our headache comes. We would like to fly out Sun, arrive in Sweet Girl's town Mon afternoon, conduct our business there Mon afternoon and Tues, then leave with Sweet Girl Tues late, use Wed, Thurs, Fri in "the capital" doing her visa, and be on a plane home Sat. There are a couple of problems with this, can we get down all our business in her town in 1.5 days (mainly close our her bank account)? And  can we get her visa done in 3 days when the adoption agent tells us we need 5? In this day and age, changing airline tickets can be done, but its neither easy or cheap (with change fees + fair differences, etc). But at the same time, staying 3 extra days in country that we don't have to isn't cheap with extra hotel fees and food plus delays Sweet Girl getting home and returning to the normalcy of a schedule (what will bring her the most comfort during this time). What to do? Either way, it could be a costly decision in terms of money in excess of $1000 and time/discomfort for Sweet Girl, not to mention being apart from the twins. And we will be forced to make this decision with incomplete information and without the guidance of our adoption agency... I sometimes feel Vegas would give you better odds! Hopefully reading this gives a little glimpse into the stress involved and how its not just a hurry up and wait process. The other advice I would give those considering international adoption is, despite the money you pay them, don't expect your agency to stay on top of your schedule, get involved, get educated, and push the boundaries for your kids. This will undoubtedly remain stressful until we step off that plane onto US soil for the first time with her.

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