On November 11, 2008, Big Papa and I submitted our “I-800A,” a form to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) requesting approval to adopt internationally. As part of that process, we had to have our fingerprints to run a criminal background check and obtain FBI clearance. Our approval, called the I-797C, was received on January 2, 2009.
I completely (and blissfully) forgot about the entire process until an email from our adoption agency arrived in our in-box this past week. It read: “Please be mindful of your I-797C expiration date and your FBI/USCIS fingerprint expiration dates. It is your responsibility to monitor these expiration dates and act on them as directed in the I-800A instructions. The expiration dates for both approval and fingerprints are located in the top section of your I-797C.”
Happy New Year! Each phase of the adoption process bears its own unique brand of torture. Processing paperwork, ad nauseam, and obtaining every legal document known to man (and having each document notarized) was exhausting. Once our dossier was on its way to Armenia, I gladly put the paper chase behind us. Or so I thought.
As it turns out, that little piece of paper is good for fifteen months. Ours expires April 2, 2010, hence, the extension, officially known as I-800A, Supplement 3.
Fortunately, the first extension is gratis. After that, an extension will set a family back $340 plus $160 for two sets of FBI fingerprints. The initial I-800A cost $670 to file the document and an additional $160 for two sets of fingerprints. For people adopting from countries, like China, where there is currently a three-year wait to get a referral, that’s a lot of extensions to file. I’m crossing my (FBI approved) fingers that this is our only extension and it’s processed without any glitches.
Simply reading through the (thankfully short) list of documents that we must attach makes me feel a bit dizzy. I think I am “done” with the paper process in my brain, so revisiting it feels like a bad dream. The only papers I want to sign right now are those accepting our referral to adopt our child.
That said, I plan to sign, seal and deliver every last item on the check list for the I-800A extension, and pronto. A year may have passed, but my desire to finish what we set out to do in the first place has not waned. I still want to adopt a child. I still want to be a mom.