22 July 2009

home stretch?

I didn't want to interrupt the happy and amazing with the daily grind...so I've saved it until now. You'll remember that Thursday I was basking in the happy of real. On Friday the weather was perfect for a lazy morning. So, I didn't go grocery shopping (the drive is best made before 8:30 a.m.) much like I didn't the day before, when it was also lazy-morning weather.

I hung out in my pajamas and went in to school around 11 (I did get dressed for that), chatted quite a bit with my principal, and typed a letter. It was a letter I copied and edited in Russian explaining that the school provides housing for me and that my housing is now where it is. Oi. This took forever. I had to check every single letter. Principal signed and stamped it. Official!

Then I went to the consulate intending to get fingerprinted [Because when the embassy sent in my prints for me, it limited what the FBI will do. (I say "will" because I don't think it's a matter of "can".) The prints came back clear, of course. But all they did was notify the embassy who (unfathomably) updated my I171H. Neither the embassy nor the FBI will send an "all-clear" letter. The FBI won't return the cards. So, I need to be fingerprinted again.] and then drive those prints to be fed-ex'd. I first had them notarize documents granting permission for my fingerprint to be sent to new agency instead of to me. The girl behind the counter put the wrong stamps on. Then they couldn't find the stamp, so they made up a form and attached it. I got the notaries done (and explained several times that I didn't have to pay anymore for this) and asked for my fingerprints to be taken.

Although girl said they did that, man said not anymore. I have to go to Moscow for that. There is nowhere else in Russia to have that done according to consulate man. I decided I'd better verify that I could get Sasha's ssn and passport at the consulate, as I'd been told previously, and was told I could not; that Sasha could not leave the US on her Russian passport. He couldn't tell me why (and I still don't understand), just that she could not.

So, I've been doing more passport research. Here are the possibilities:

  • Everything is as we thought--enter and leave US on Russian passport, wait for Certificate of Citizenship to be mailed to a US address (Hi, Amy.), and then get US passport and ssn at consulate
  • Everything is horribly difficult--we fly to the US to clear immigration and then apply for an expedited US passport. It will say something nonsalubrious--that she's a legal alien or something. We file an extra paper saying I'm an ex-pat. Then, we return to Russia and wait for an appointment with...somebody. We then fly back to the US, have the appointment, and get her COC.
  • The "horribly difficult" option is if we enter the US in Honolulu. (I have never had the slightest desire to go to Hawaii. Beaches? No. Sand is glorified dirt and there are things in the ocean.) There, they give you your COC when you clear immigration. She would still need an expedited passport but it would all be kosher--no aliens, no return trip in a month. It would just be a 23-hour trip. One way. And then back.
  • Everything is minorly inconveninet and just requires more paperwork. This is one that I don't quite understand yet. Because I work for the Embassy, I am a government employee. I hope. In this case. Because if I'm a government employee then there is some way to get an expeditied COC. And we could still get the expedited passport. And return.
Because Moscow is part way to Sasha, I decided to combine my fingerprinting trip with document hand-off and a visit. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm not sure that it's best for her. I just don't want to be another mama who keeps leaving her...even though I will the one who comes back. She really doesn't understand what is going on. Really.

Of course I want to see her, but our visits have such constraints! We are required to sit at a table to play. We cannot see any other children, so we cannot go outside. We cannot sit on the floor (horrors!) or spread out. And, I cannot "parent" her because she's not mine yet. (That's what they think!) They don't want me to pick her up. They want me to "encourage" her in the Soviet style--telling her exactly what she may and may not do, scolding her for coloring things the wrong color or coloring the wrong way, making her conform, conform, conform to a standard she CAN'T conform to at this point. (They don' t know me very well, do they?) My last translator was as bad as the staff--and needs to just back off. I will have a different translator this time, so maybe that will help. It's just a very frustrating way to "visit".

I don't like this orphanage. It is the least-welcoming orphanage I've been in. The staff, as Dr. Kholoudis noted, does everything we asked but never smiled. I don't think Sasha is safe there. I know she is not cherished. I don't have any warm-fuzzy feelings about caretakers who really do care. I haven't been able to spend time with them or in her group, I've only met them, so I may be wrong. I hope I am.

But I'm going, nonetheless. I will see her next week!

Yesterday I booked my tickets, got a haircut, and collected my Russian homestudy.

Now I need to get the hs copied, officially translated into English, notarized and to my international sw (who finished that hs, too!) in Germany. (eta: Dropped it off this morning and it will be ready tomorrow. First address given was a dentist, but found a notary/translator nearby.) As soon as the team in-region has it, we can ask for a court date! The judge is on vacation until 1 August. I think we'll have the hs shortly thereafter. My sw is scanning a copy to new agency so translation can begin even before it arrive. SW is fed-exing the hard copy to them for notaries and apostilles. And then it gets Fed-ex'd to Russia! That *could* all happen in three weeks, I think. Could.

Which means we could have a court date while I'm still in my 30's. Which would mean, after my ten-day wait, that my maternity leave would end just as Christmas vacation began--extending it by three weeks. Wouldn't that be great?

I have an appointment tomorrow for my eight-doctor medical and my regional medical. I have to walk to the travel agent and pick up my tickets (didn't want to brave the lines at the train station), go to the local pochta to check for packages (eta: Did part one of this today.) hand off some orphanage donations, pick up my travel permission papers and buy a rocking chair. And pack. And vacuum. And buy a new vacuum cleaner. And a digital recorder because the sony handycam I bought for trip one is not mac compatible.

What am I doing on the computer? Gotta dash!

(Disclaimer to B & C: portions of this post taken from e-mails to you.)