When relating our family' s little immigration saga to a friend who went to hell and back to adopt a baby from Rwanda, said friend mentioned a woman who works for our state senator and might be able to help us:
"She has phone numbers, direct lines, civilians don't have access to," she said.
was appreciative, but humbled, especially in the face of the crazy
bureaucratic hoops she and her husband had to jump through over the
course of several painfully long years. My initial instinct was, well,
our problem isn't so big to warrant calling Senator Leahy's office. Is
But when I recently overheard the girls playing a
game called, "Daddy died in the war," then Ian called to say he had seen
some really cheap airline tickets from Boston to London over Christmas,
I realized this was getting serious.
"Christmas?" I shrieked. You mean you really won't be able to come home by Christmas?"
"I don't know," he said. "But it doesn't look likely, and if you have to come over, we better plan it now."
I mentioned, we received notice that my petition for alien relative had
been received and was being processed. We were given a receipt number
and a website to consult to find out the status. As of now, the status
is under "initial review." Then there is a section where you can enter
the type of form you have submitted and it will calculate processing
times. When you do this, it says 5 months. Five months. Since the
petition was received on September 29th, that means Ian definitely won't
be home for Christmas.
But does five months really
mean five months, or is that the worst case scenario. It's in the
Vermont Immigration office, how many of these applications could they
have to review?
Turns out the Vermont immigration service center is one
of just three immigration service centers in all of the United States.
There is one in California, one in Texas, and one in Vermont. And the
answer to how many cases they have to review, is thousands. Who knew?
I called my friend yesterday and got the name and contact info for the
woman who works for the senator. I hemmed and hawed and practiced what I
would say to her, then I called the number. She was out to lunch and I
was directed to her voice mail. While waiting for the greeting to end, I
chickened out and hung up.
"Vermont is plagued with problems right now," I thought. "Bigger problems than mine."
afternoon Esther overheard me telling someone it could be five months
before Ian comes home. "I thought he was coming home at the end of this
month," she said. "We're never going to see him again."
"Yes we are," I said. "We are. It's just complicated."
a long, sleepless night with the wind howling in invisible swirling
assaults around our creaking swaying treehouse, the sun rose to display almost
totally-bare trees. Seeing the trees stripped of their leaves like that reminded me of just how long and cold winter is. Isla came shuffling into my room, as she often does, and snuggled up beside me.
"My warm, beautiful Mommy," she said.
"How come you always wake up so happy," I asked.
"Our life is wonderful," she said.
Where did I find this kid?
My courage and self importance restored, I called
the number again today. Miraculously, the woman I was looking for
picked up the phone. I sheepishly got around to explaining my problem and
apologized for bothering her with trivial matters, and she cut me off:
"This is what I do," she said. "This is my job. Problems like yours are exactly what I am here for."
a warm, friendly, experiential wisdom-infused voice in my ear was
profoundly encouraging. While she made no promises, she assured me she
would call and check on the status, and she would also send me plenty of
other info about what happens next after our petition is accepted. I
hadn't realized there was a "what happens next" part, but apparently,
there is, and it is just as daunting as, and even more expensive than,
the first part. It was at this point I cracked a joke about the dog
house I was building for Ian to live in once he finally got home. She laughed.
She was all ears, soft sympathetic ears. The concern
in her voice validated my stress which I've been doing a really good job
at denying. She also had access to lots of information, and said, with
confidence, that it wasn't likely any of this would be worked out before
And now I'm wondering just how cheap those airline fares to London are.
Knowledge is power. Even though the facts are not what I
was hoping for, now that I know that these bureaucrats mean business, as daunting as it is, I feel better.
All this not knowing is not good for a person. It a strain to see in the dark.