I'll start at the beginning. In order to adopt an orphan, a document called an I-600A needs to be filed. Essentially, you are asking Immigration (USCIS) to grant you permission to adopt. In addition to filing the I-600A, you also have to have a home study conducted by a social worker. The home study process is quite extensive. If you are interested, you can read more about it here. When the home study is complete, it is sent to USCIS. You also need to be fingerprinted.
After you have completed the above steps, if Immigration approves you, you will receive a document called an I-171H. This document states that you are approved. It is good for 18 months, but fingerprints expire after 15 months.
You may recall that we have been on this journey for almost two years. We received our I-171H in July of 2008. It expired in January of 2010.
You can request a one time, free of charge, 18 month extension to your I-600A if your initial approval expires before your adoption is complete. It has to be filed not more than 90 days before the approval expires.
In October we sent a request to USCIS to be re-fingerprinted and we asked for the one time extension of our approval. Our social worker came to our home to update our home study in early November. But we had some trouble with USCIS getting our fingerprinting appt set up and we were not re-fingerprinted until January. (You may remember - it was the day we passed court!)
In mid-January, we received another I-171H stating that we were indeed approved again. It was amended on 1/7/2010. It was uploaded to the National Visa Center Database on 1/12/2010. But, for some reason it is not uploading to the Embassy database in Addis. So, from their perspective, they can only see that our USCIS approval is expired. In other words, their records indicate that we do not have permission to adopt Evie. That means we cannot get Evie's Visa, so we cannot bring her back to the US.
Our Embassy appt is not until Feb 22. So we do have time while we are in country to get this sorted out. However, there is no guarantee that it will be resolved which is why our agency director advised us not to travel until we have confirmation that our approval is there. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that we will receive said confirmation before Tues when we leave, especially since everything is closed on Monday for President's Day. We are just going to take a chance and hope it works out. This means that there is a chance we would either have to return home without her and make another trip OR that one of us would have to stay in country until the problem is resolved. We are hoping and praying and believing that it will not come to this.
Our congressman has a staff member working on this and we are trying to contact the African Adoption Officer through the Dept of State to see if she can help us as well. We are doing everything we can to make this happen. Please pray that it will all work out. I have a feeling that it will, but I'll admit, after about hour 3 on hold with the National Visa Center, I was not at my best.
I will be sure to post any news as we receive it.