Thursday, January 24, 2013

Headed "home"....

We've been in the US for nearly five months now.  It has been a wonderful time of rest and re-connecting with family, some friends, and American culture.  The kids have had so many great experiences while we've been here, and we've made some great family memories.  But we are ready to go "home."  At this point, Jaipur definitely feels like home to us.  The kids often say how much they miss certain things about life in Jaipur, their house there, their friends, their things.  But also how much they'll miss certain things about their life and experiences here.  It's hard to be always saying goodbye and moving from one place to another...

One of the stresses we've faced while being home has been finalizing everything for Meryn's adoption and paperwork.  We arrived in the US and within a week were at the court house registering her adoption and applying for a US birth certificate.  We received that in about 3 weeks time, along with a legal name change from Helen Paul to Meryn Helena!  Shortly after that, we received a letter in the mail saying that Meryn's citizenship application had not met the requirements, and she would not be granted automatic citizenship, but would instead be granted a green card.  This was a pretty confusing for us, because we had always been told citizenship is automatic on arrival in the US.  Well, it is for just about everyone, but it turns out if your primary residence is abroad (as is ours), then the child does not qualify for citizenship if your intention is to be in the US for a short time and return to a residence abroad.  Even though both of her adoptive parents are full-fledged US citizens.  Doesn't make any sense to me, but it's what they did.  So a few weeks later, we got her green card in the mail, with her name mis-spelled.  Yessss........

So, about this time is when we take a look at her Ethiopian passport and US visa to make sure we can at least apply for her US passport.  We can't take her back out on her Ethiopian passport, because on a green card, she cannot stay outside the US for more than a year at a time.  If she has a US passport, she is able to go and come as we please.  So one thing we needed for her US passport application was an endorsed US visa, which means a stamp from immigration showing she entered legally into the US.  Well, when we looked, her passport and visa were not stamped.  Not at all.  The immigration officers in Chicago had forgotten to stamp it, thus rendering us unable to even apply for her US passport.  This was not a good day. : )

We made some calls, talked to an immigration attorney who said our case was a huge mess, and I was pretty stressed. I didn't really even know what to do, and we couldn't afford the immigration attorney.  So I just started calling people. I started with the Chicago O'hare Immigration.  Finally, I talked to a woman at the Customs and Border Patrol in Atlanta, and she was very helpful.  She directed us to the CBP office in our city, and they were actually able to get Meryn's passport stamped and her visa activated.  Way easier than I thought.  I thought we were going to have to go to Chicago! : )

So once we had her Ethiopian passport stamped, we went to apply for her US passport.  And they didn't even ask to see her Ethiopian passport.  I couldn't believe it! Everything went smoothly, and we waited 6 weeks, the maximum allotted time to receive a passport.  Then, after hearing nothing, we contacted them to find out what was going on.  We found out that they had sent us a letter we had never received.  They re-sent the letter, and it was asking for documentation of her legal US status (the aforementioned stamp).  So we mailed them her Ethiopian passport.  Four weeks later, after calling every week and getting nowhere, we received another letter in the mail, requesting documentation of her legal name change.  Again, we overnighted it to the passport office.  Ten weeks after applying, we finally received her passport back in the mail.

After that, within a week, we had her Indian visa.  Today, we got our tickets.  And now, it's all done. We are on our way home next week.

Meanwhile, we're packing, sorting, purging, bubble wrapping, .........  and having our "lasts" of many things, including trips to Target, burgers, and Dr. Peppers....





Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kiryn's Birthday!

I think Kiryn holds the record for craziest birthday track record:

1st birthday: in Ajmer, India
2nd birthday: in Delhi india
3rd birthday: in Dubai, UAE
4th & 5th birthday: in Jaipur, India
6th birthday: in USA

Almost a different city each year!  So crazy...

This year, since we were in the US, and it's cold and snowy, we decided to have a winter-themed party!  We made cupcakes and coconut covered ice cream "snowballs."  We made snow globes, and decorated the cupcakes, had pizza, and went ice skating.  It was such a blast!  For her birthday, Kiryn got a giant doll house, two teddy bears, a few new Lego Friends sets, and... her ears pierced!  For her birthday meals, she requested donuts for breakfast, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for lunch, and lasagna for dinner. Here's pictures of my beautiful six year old on her special day! : )













Sunday, January 6, 2013

Downton!


I'm so excited that the Season 3 Premier of Downton Abbey is tonight!  I seriously have been looking forward to it for weeks.  In honor of the Downton Abbey premier, I decided we'd have French Onion Soup, Shepherds Pie, and scones for dinner.  So much fun!  Can't wait to catch up with Matthew, Mary, and Anna and Bates!  Paul has to remind me after every episode, "Megan, they're not real people..."  Oh,... but they are... : )