Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Be the Answer Day!!!!!

Today is "Be the Answer" Day.
Please give even a dollar to Joint Council today, and help them win a large cash prize!
Joint Council's Be The Answer (BTA) Campaign has entered America's Giving Challenge through Facebook's Causes application, which gives them a chance to win $50,000!
Not a Facebook member? Don't worry; you don't have to be a member of Facebook to donate through the application!
Joint Council's ability to advocate has been heavily impacted by the poor economy, so they really need your help!
The great thing about this challenge is that it doesn't matter how much you give, but instead how much you do to encourage friends and family to get involved in Joint Council's Be The Answer.
They need you.
They would like to make Tuesday, October 27th Be The Answer Day!
Let's flood the system and try to win them one of the daily prizes!
With your help, we can do it!
With your help, Joint Council can help so many more children!
So meet them on Facebook and take the Be The Answer Challenge! http://apps.facebook.com/causes/325489/75339612?m=1a240be5
Thanks so much!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are you sure you're Hague? Is your HS okay?

Welcome to October, 2009. CCAA skipped referrals in September, but we're all hoping for a big batch in October.
All right, two new wrinkles to report on.
#1 Are you Hague?
If your agency is not a Hague-approved agency, whether you are I600A or not, China is demanding you be with a Hague agency by 12/01/09. Most people who this affects have already been told this by their agency. One thing to watch, is your agency an agency that shares a China license? My agency is. So, waaay back when, my agency got one of the first Hague approvals. Great! Only, my agency was sharing another agency's China license, and that agency was not Hague-approved. In the eyes of the CCAA, I was with a non-Hague-approved agency (which is why it was so important to me to keep the I600A going).
Flash-forward, the agency that CCAA thinks I'm with is now Hague-approved, so I am okay, but how about you? Who is your licensing agency, the agency you signed with, or another agency? Check on this by asking questions if you're not sure.
The good news? When this agency switch would have been necessary due to the I600A problem, China did not approve the agency-switch, so your dossier would have lost its LID. Now, since this is China's idea, the switch is allowed, so no loss of LID.
The bad news? You will have to pay a fee, if you switch agencies, to the new agency (and the fee can be in the thousands), and you may not get to choose your "new" agency, depending on what the CCAA and your agency have agreed to.
If you're in this position I am sorry. I certainly think everyone's agency owed it to their clients to get their Hague-acts together.

#2 For all international adoptions, not just China:
Lucky us, the US Consulates have decided they can make rules too. They have decided that they will no longer (as of 9/09?) accept addendums.
Explanation: it used to be that when you received your referral, from any country, if something had changed (e.g. you moved, had a child, or were referred a 3 year old and you had asked for a 4 year old, or etc.), you simply had your SW write an addendum to your HS, and you took this addendum with you, on the plane, in your hot little hand, to the consulate in whatever country you were adopting from, and they added this info. to your file when getting your "go-home" paperwork together.
Now the consulates decided they don't want this responsibility anymore. Case in point, a friend was referred a child one month older than she had put in her HS is currently not being allowed to travel because of that 1 month difference in age, and she cannot take an addendum with her on her trip to fix this. So, for her, so far, no trip. Horrible! And her congressional rep. is involved to try to get this done pronto. Keep your fingers crossed for her.
So, what do you do for you, to make sure you don't have this problem?
You still get your SW to do an addendum to your HS, but then you take it to your USCIS office, or, heaven forbid, you have to mail it to the I800A clearing office, the National Benefits Center (NBC), and the receiving office, either USCIS or NBC, has to make sure they send it to the consulate of your choice. And you have to make sure (how do you make sure? who knows?) that they did that and that the consulate has received it so that they will allow you to go get your child.
My advice: if you have a HS renewal coming up anyway, and don't expect to travel before your renewal is done, then, at your next HS renewal just get your HS altered (don't do an addendum) to increase your age-range and SNs and put both genders, etc., in other words, make it ready for any referral you may get or may see and wish to accept. Talk with your SW about this and find out how much they feel comfortable widening this for you too. They may be fine putting down 6 months to 5 years, but they may not want to put down any special need you can possibly think of "just in case." So, make it as broad as you can within reason.
If you expect to travel on your current HS (no renewal needed for 6 months or so, for example, and you expect to travel this fall), call your SW now, and do an addendum. We just had to do one because we put in our HS the ages we were originally hoping our child would be in 2005, because we thought those ages were guidelines for the country granting the adoption, not for our gov't. In other words we thought we were using the HS to tell China our preference. We did not know that we were in actuality saying to the USA that we could only "handle" a child 6 months old or AYAP.
I have to say it seems a bit nutty to me. For Pete's-sake, does our gov't think we adopt children who don't age? Of course a parent can handle a child older than their request, or a boy vs a girl. It's ridiculous.
In any case, in international adoption the ridiculous is often what's required, which is why it is good to come to terms with that, and the truth of constant change, early in your process, so that these things become less upsetting.
So, to review, if you have so much time before you travel that you will have to do an I600A or I800A renewal, don't waste time/$ on an addendum, instead broaden your child "stats" on your HS at your next scheduled renewal.
If you don't think you have time, do an addendum now, written to take in any "trait/stat" your child could have that you may not be expecting but are comfortable accepting. Make sure to ask your SW for an addendum, not a renewal, as the cost difference is huge, and the paperwork goes from gathering no docs for an addendum, to repeating the whole paperchase for the renewal. Ours just cost us $150, and was done in email, and as soon as I get the little sucker in print I'm gonna take it to my local USCIS office, and I'll let you know how that goes.
One last thing:
If you expect to travel within a month of the expiration of your fingerprints, the Consulate may refuse to give you travel approval/a consulate appointment unless you renew before you go. We expect to travel in December (given the miracle of all the planets lining up just so to allow this), and our FPs expire in January, so when I take my addendum in, I am also going to ask very nicely for another fingerprint appointment too. I'll let you know what that involved and what it cost me.
Okay, not so bad considering some of the hurtles we all have had, eh?
Hope this helps! Keep your chin up; and keep adopting! Those kids need you!

PS, speaking of FPs, did I tell you our funny FP story? Waaaay back in 2005 we went for our very first FP appointment. It's important to note that we live in a very immigrant-rich area, so when we walked into the FP office, it was mobbed; there had to be 40 people of various ages and backgrounds and hoping for green cards or citizenship, waiting for FPs. Dave, wide-eyed, said to the receptionist, "Wow, all these people are adopting from China too?" Out of the mouths of babes.... ;+D We were all so naive when we started, weren't we? 4 years'll rub the naive right off ya! LOL!