Saturday, March 1, 2008

Some more on adoption and our "wonderful" government

The last time I posted about this, I shared my frustrations with our government (namely USCIS- United States Citizenship & Immigration Services- and The Department of Homeland Security).  I truly believe that the average American citizen floats through life never having to deal with these people, and therefore thinking that our government is just fine.  On the other side of that coin, are people like us, who have had major dealings with them, and are extremely frustrated as a result.  We're left wondering "what's so great about the USA anyway?"  Here's the latest........
We've been waiting for some sort of news about Gracie and Ian's Certificate of Citizenship(s).  We sent in the applications with the (higher) fees months ago.  After receiving no satisfaction or help from anyone at USCIS, we turned to our Federal Representative- an assistant of his has been very proactive in tracking our case, which has been a real godsend.  We had put matters out of our minds, just hoping for the best.
Yesterday, Brian came home from the post office with a letter from USCIS/Dept. of Homeland Security, saying that Ian's application has been accepted and that they will send his Certificate of Citizenship as soon as we relinquish his Alien Registration Card (otherwise known as a "green card").  The letter stated that we were to tape the card to a copy of the letter and return it to them "in the enclosed envelope".  Problem is, they didn't enclose an envelope.  So the question is, do we take a chance and return it to the address on the letterhead?  Did the supposed-to-be-enclosed envelope per chance have a different address, or a "attention: so-and-so" on it?  Having no idea what to do, and no phone number to call, I went to the USCIS website.  If you've never had to go to that site, consider yourself lucky~ it's horrible to try to find what you're looking for! 
I ended up calling the 800 "help" line.  I use the term "help" extremely loosely, as it's a real joke in this case.  The lady I spoke to, who was at least trying to  be nice, told me that we should go to the USCIS website and set up an appointment to go to our local office and turn it in, since we didn't have the enclosed envelope.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't this mistake a direct result of THEIR negligence;  yet, our family is to the  punished (yet again) by having to drive 3 hours to inner-city Philly for an appointment?!  I don't think so.  They cannot give out a phone number for the local offices;  in fact, she told me they don't even have  them.  Do you believe that?! 
So, we called our contact at the Federal Rep's office again, and she will be in touch with her contact at USCIS to find out what we're supposed to do.  Here's the catch.......right in the letter, it states that we have 30 days to return the letter with the ARC.  If they don't receive it in that time frame, they will destroy our original application and paperwork.  Now, to me, I read  between the lines~ I see the fine print that says "you'll need to reapply and pay the high fee again". 
Please, if you read this far, say a prayer that our Rep's assistant can work this out for us, and fast!  I spent the morning of my anniversary very stressed, and I've shed many a tear over this whole situation during the past year.  I just want it to be done, once and for all.  And, to think, we still need to receive a similar letter for Gracie (please, oh please, may they remember the enclosed envelope next time!)

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