Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nothin' Doin'

I've got nothin for ya. I'm out of inspiration. I can't seem to make myself care about FISA, offshore drilling, or even John McCain's head band-aids at the moment. Nothin'.

I can't even make myself care about links, which are my lowest-common-denominator vehicle for pretending I've posted something to this blog. ;) I've been rather busy doing adoption stuff for Baby Sister. Because we've moved we have to re-do our home study. Which is no small feat considering the breadth and depth of the information we have to provide to the good people at Homeland Security. It involves no fewer than 45 separate documents, notarized and submitted with three copies.

You'd think getting a copy of a birth certificate, marriage license or some other document would be easy. Not so fast! This is one area where I am certain the United States lags behind other developed nations. Consider that I contacted Scotland by phone, ordered a certified copy of my birth certificate, gave them my credit card number, and had my copy in 5 days. From Scotland. Consider that I requested the BBDD's certificate from the very state in which we live nine days ago. And still we wait for it to arrive.

Consider that one can only request a marriage license copy by enclosing--I shit you not--a MONEY ORDER. A money order?! Who the hell uses money orders?! I had to sit down and think about where one might acquire one of those before I remembered needing one in junior high school to join the Duran Duran fan club, and took myself to the post office. A money order. So retro! And to be submitted with a letter via the US postal service! No online orders, no faxes, no credit cards. Awesome. So Eighties!

And then we get to the immigration forms (all of this paperwork is for USCIS, not for China. China has everything they need from us. All of this rigmarole is simply to get a form that gives us permission to bring a child into the country. Thank god our borders are being so assiduously defended from infants). We have to fill out the new form based on the new Hague Conventions. Which is no big deal except for the fact that I have to now fill in all my naturalization information (since I'm a naturalized citizen). But they want me to find my naturalization certificate and provide the certificate number, my A number (the number you get when you enter the country), and essentially regurgitate every piece of information on that certificate to them. But here's the thing: I got that certificate FROM THEM. Don't they have that on file? Can't they look up my social security number and name and find all that info? Why do I have to give it all back to them from a document they gave to ME? Is this the best use of anyone's time? My bet is that they have 12 different non-integrated database systems that do not speak to each other and have no way of knowing who the hell I am, even if they did approve me in 1981. That, or they don't feel like looking anything up.

Which brings us to the Hague-required police clearances. I have to get a clearance from every jurisdiction in which I've lived since the age of 18 to prove that I have not engaged in sexual misconduct with a child during that time. Seriously. I do understand why it's important that children not be placed with people who have a history of child sexual abuse anywhere in the world. I do understand. I'm just chafing under the requirement that I contact Scotland--again--because I spent 9 months there as a freshman in college. When I contacted the bureau over there, they asked for my 5 previous addresses. None in Scotland. Okay. What was your address while in Scotland? A college dorm. Well, that's not really an address. I know, but what can I do? I need a form from you all saying that I did not go on some wild child sex bender between 1990 and 1991 while in the confines of your fair country. So they're going to see what they can do, but they really have no sense of what the hell I'm asking for. Like, you were a student here at a college dorm for less than a year and you need a letter saying that by British records you are not a child molester? Yeah. Okay. We'll get that right in the post to you. I just hope it's what USCIS considers "official" enough.

All of which is to say, bitching aside, that it's a process I'm of course committed to doing because it's how my daughter will get to be my daughter. So of course my bellyaching is just that. But the process does speak to a paucity of imagination in the realm of vital records management in America and the challenges of accessing (what the USCIS considers vital) records of other countries. It also gives the lie to annoying statements (such as this rather racist one highlighted by Ken over at Popehat: popehat ) that adopting internationally is "the latest fad" and "fashionable" or that people do it for larks. No one in her right mind would submit to the level of investigation, both via paperwork and people coming to your home and writing reports about your parenting/housekeeping and general demeanor, just for a quick laugh. To the point that, for anyone who has gone through the adoption process, comments about fads and fashion are so offensive as to be obscene.

But all annoyance aside, it also reminded me, in a funny moment, of what I said last time around with Bambina: as bad as the process is, I'll take it over an episiotomy any day.


Ken said...

E, ignore this question if you think it's too intrusive, but are China or your agency making a big deal over the medical issues you've blogged about here? They are so demanding these days that I'd be surprised if they weren't making you cough up a whole lot of medical documentation.

(Fortunately we were grandfathered in to China, otherwise I'd be ineligible thanks to being booga-booga crazy.)

By the way, I think we were studying in the UK at the same time.

E said...

Ken, since it's just you and me here, I'll answer. ;) A little bit more documentation. But since I'm effectively cured, it's not that big a deal. I didn't have cancer, so it's not like it can recur. So I'm cured of Aplastic Anemia, which means I'm--according to my Dr--healthier now than I was the first time around.
So I'm totally medically cleared for adoption. And trust me--I wouldn't even consider continuing the process if I wasn't!

Utah Savage said...

E, the first line of you post here made me think this might be the time to ask you this question. Do you have any interest in writing a short story. I wrote a new short story recently in which it is unclear is the husband the main character is leaving is alive when she leaves. There seems to be a lot of interest in the idea of murdering women. Jodi Foster got a lot of good reviews for her role of vigilante in The Brave One. So I'd like to put together a collection of short stories about murderous women. That's the only guide line. It could be merely the fantasy of murder. I was surprised at the comments about this new story, especially the comments of men. They gave me suggestions on how to knock of husband number one and two. It's husband number three that I might or might not leave for dead in the current story. Sorry to go on and on about me and my story when what I want to do is convince you to write a story. It's fiction. So reasure your husband and friends and family that you are not contemplating murder or have ever... Come see me, and let me know, or email me at heddaspam@gmail.com If you have time take a look at my story. See what you think.

Anonymous said...

By "fad", I suspect numbskull author of said articles on non-domestic adoption are spotlighting celebrities. In that case, you can't possibly think that someone like Angelina Jolie is dialing for documents herself.

Hey! Maybe you could get a flak/personal assistant too, just so you don't have the nuisance factor. This person could also issue frequent press releases denying exciting adventures you might be undertaking or large anonymous donations. Consider the possibilities!

Utah Savage said...

I just reread your post and all I can say is, Kafka-esque! We seem to be proving that our government does not fucking work. Go George! Way to dismantle our system, one bureau at a time. Maybe you haven't filled in the form declaring that you are in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion and gay marriage. If you swore to that, you can get a job in the bureaucracy with good insurance and other benefits--like fucking with people's heads, just for fun.