Disclaimer: I am Protestant, not Catholic, and I don’t know much about the process of being recognized as a saint in the Catholic church. Furthermore, I don’t know if the subject of today’s post is Catholic or not, and I assume that to become a recognized saint in the Catholic church, you have to be Catholic to begin with. N’important. I have decided to start my own program of Saint recognition; requirements at this point are rather vague, but one person stands out in my mind right now.
Today I would like to publicly recognize our adoption coordinator from International Adoption Services, Kathryn Bauermeister. Kathryn has put in many hours of work coordinating the myriad details of our international adoption process. She helped us quickly put together our adoption dossier, guided us through the process of getting State Department approval, and finally having the dossier logged into the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA).
Then she became our counselor and therapist when months of waiting turned into years (3 this July, to be exact). We became somewhat numb during this period, but Kathryn faithfully updated us on how (slowly) the process was moving, and encouraged us to keep hoping.
Finally, she had the joy of notifying us 2 weeks ago that we have finally received an adoption “referral”. Since then, she has attempted to bring some semblance of order to the chaos that ensued. Some of that chaos is due to the Byzantine regulations governing international adoption, both by the Chinese authorities and their U.S. counterparts. Some of it is my doing (or failing to do).
There are basically 4 requirements for a successful international adoption: 1. fill out all the paperwork correctly to prove your I.Q. is 200 or greater; 2. have a home study done to make sure you’re not an axe murderer; 3. pay all the money you have (and more) to prove you are adept at taking out loans (you’ll need to do this when your child goes to college); and 4. get fingerprinted once a month or so, in case you become so frustrated with the process that you BECOME an axe murderer by going berserk in the fingerprint center in St. Paul.
OK, so #4 requires some circular logic to understand, but trust me, spending a little time in the St. Paul Application Support Center will twist your logic sufficiently. Our long wait necessitated updating (read that “completely re-doing”) our I-600A, the main U.S. government form that allows us to bring Katie into the country once we’ve adopted her. That form is good for 18 months, and since we’ve waited almost twice that long, we had to update it last year. It’s still good until December of this year, so we’re safe with that one.
The problem comes because “up-to-date” fingerprints (yes, I also wonder how fingerprints expire, since they never change during your lifetime) are required to support the I-600A form. Get this, though: my fingerprints expire after 15 months, not 18 months like the I-600A does. Only a governmental program can achieve this level of complexity. So, while the main government adoption form is up-to-date with plenty of time to spare, the supporting fingerprints expire the week before we are likely to travel.
This is where I screwed up: I thought our fingerprints expired when the I-600A did, and that we were all set to travel. Fortunately, Kathryn discovered the flaw before it became a fatal one. So, as previously posted, we filled out another fingerprint request form and sent it off. Last week we got a notice to appear at the St. Paul Application Support Center on May 27 at 8:00am.
So, let’s see: the day after Memorial Day, the first day of official summer, the day when most parents would love to have their child’s tonsils removed or whatever, the day when I already have a full surgery schedule; that’s the day that is convenient for the good folks at Homeland Security Administration to repeat our fingerprinting for the 3rd time. Huh. So that’s what “Home-icidal” means.
I asked Kathryn if we could just walk into the center on a Saturday morning and get the job done. She said that she had walked in on a weekday afternoon and that had worked, but Holly at IAS told me that a family had recently been turned away when they tried to walk up. I didn’t relish the idea of a 3 hour round trip on a Saturday morning only to fail and have to report on the 27th anyway.
I actually contemplated trying to reach Senator Norm Coleman’s office to request an expedited fingerprinting appointment, but finally decided just to clear my schedule on the 27th and take our chances on getting the fingerprint clearance back in time for our travel.
This is where Saint Kathryn comes in: she persisted in emailing the chief officer of the Minnesota BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) office, and finally on Friday afternoon got the OK for us to come in the next day (Saturday the 17th, which was yesterday). We were busy Friday night at a dinner and program until late, so I missed her urgent calls and emails. She finally called my cell around 10:00am on Saturday and told me we were due at the office between 1 and 3:30 that afternoon.
Soulmate had planned to go with Big Jim’s wife to Babies R Us in Maple Grove, but instead we took our third tour of the Application Support Center on University Avenue in St. Paul. We did manage a short trip to Babies R Us after reviving our fingerprints. Now, hopefully, we will get our fingerprint clearance form (I-171H, I believe) back before we travel. I may still have to borrow a favor from Sen. Coleman before this is all said and done.
Thank you, Kathryn, we couldn’t do this without you. Soulmate and I joke that population control would be simple and certain if every would-be family had to go through what an adoptive family has to. I wonder what form I have to send to Pope Benedict XVI to request canonization? I guess that will have to wait until after I wade through the sea of paperwork still awaiting us in China. Now, if I can only find my passport…