The Abraham Family’s Journey to Russia to Bring Home Their Daughter

March 27, 2008

A kinder, gentler CIS?

Does anyone remember when the IRS unveiled its kinder, gentler mission statement in 1998? It was supposed to "reflect the agency's new emphasis on serving taxpayers." Well, I personally think it's about time for the CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly INS, a.k.a. Homeland Security) to adopt a similar mission statement!

We still have not received our I-171H form from the CIS that we've been waiting for since we were fingerprinted on October 11, 2007. This form will complete the processing of our I-600A form (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) and give us governmental clearance to adopt. We won't be allowed to finalize our adoption without it because CIS must grant permission for a foreign citizen (our adopted child) to enter the USA with an immigrant visa.

At the time we were fingerprinted, we were told the processing time was six to eight weeks. Soon after changing agencies in December, we submitted an updated homestudy and some additonal information CIS requested. It was December 12th, and at that point, we were told it could take up to eight to ten weeks.

Well, it's been way longer than that now.

So, at the recommendation of our agency, on February 26th, I emailed the CIS office processing our form. No response.

On March 6, I sent another email stating this was the 2nd REQUEST and I really needed to hear something from them ASAP. To my surprise, I received a response the next day stating:

Your evidence has been received and your case is being reviewed by an officer.

Thank you,
MEM Adoption Unit

That explained all of Nothing. It brought back memories of trying to get our Passports last June . That was the exact response we got from the passport office.

Determined to get more information, I emailed them again on March 21st. This time I said:

Thank you for the response. Can you please tell us when we will be receiving the 171h? It has been almost 6 months since we were fingerprinted on October 11, 2007. It has been almost 14 weeks since we submitted the additional information requested along with an updated homestudy. That was submitted on December 12, 2007. What is causing the delay?

We will be traveling to Russia to adopt a child in the upcoming weeks and, therefore, it is urgent that we receive the 171h clearance letter immediately!

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter,

Kim and Martin Abraham

Three days later, I received the following message:

Based on our workload, we are not always able to realize our expectations of processing dates. Your case has been reviewed and will be completed as soon as time allows.

Thank you,
MEM Adoption Unit

Clearly, they are not going to commit themselves to any kind of deadline or give me any indication of when they might get to us. Since we don't actually have travel dates yet, I thought I would try the "catch more flies with honey..." approach and sent this message:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my email. Any news is better than not knowing at all! I understand that CIS is extremely busy right now and that your workload has increased ten fold since the price increase last July. Just please know that we will greatly appreciate anything you can do to speed the process along for us. Thanks again.

Sincerely, Kim and Martin Abraham

Within fifteen minutes, they responded:

Thank you for your kind words and understanding.

MEM Adoption Unit

A kinder, gentler CIS? I don't know. Will my "catch more flies with honey" approach help us get our form processed quicker? I don't know that either. But maybe, just maybe, if our file is waiting on this person's desk and they need to decide which file to work on next, he/she will pick ours. I guess only time will tell!


Troy and Rachel said...

Wow - what communication. I know they are swamped, but that's way too long. We were there and had to get our Congressman involved. I'm not sure it helped all that much, but you might try it. Keep working on them!

Jackie said...

lol! Oh Kim... I love the last email and response. I truly hope that that particular person does pick up your file and begins to work on it next!

Christine said...

How frustrating. We played this game as well although we didn't have to wait as long. I am sorry for the delays. WE are waiting for other things, but it none the less frustrating. Hang in there and I'll hang in there with you. :)

Chris said...

Ouch, that has to be frustrating. We'll pray that it gets done ASAP.

Old DAN AND Little ANN said...

Make the bees with honey thing your motto for the rest of your adoption and things will go MUCH smoother for you! I realized the truth and power of that old addage throughout our adoption and became very good at turning on the charm to move the mountains that stood between us and our son as much as charm alone would!

The Wilson's said...

6 months seems a little crazy. I cannot believe that it has taken that long. I wonder if there is anyone else you can call. Have you tried your congressman? While I was waiting at CIS a woman told me that it took a call and visit to her congressman to get a response from CIS -- Just a thought.

Tiger & Kar said...

Hi Kim! I just found your blog - thank you so much for the kinds words you left on ours while we were in Moscow!

I feel your pain in regards to CIS. We, too, are still waiting on our 171 but not nearly as long as you have been. They've had our package since January 14. I emailed them earlier this week & told them the only thing standing between us & a court date was THEM!! Okay, I was a little nicer about it, but I did want them to know where we are in the process. She wrote me back promptly & said that she would be resuming processing of 600A's this week, and that we should hear something by early next week. I so hope that is true, and that what we hear next week is APPROVED!

Please know you're in our prayers for a quick resoution to this.
Karyn & Norm

Billie said...

OH no! We just submitted our I 171H about 3 weeks ago....great, it sounds like it will be awhile yet til we can get our dossier off.

Janine said...

I totally understand how you are feeling. It took us a little over 6 months to finally get ours back too and I could never get anyone to respond to me. It was the most frustrating part of our adoption journey so far...dealing with our gov't..go figure. Since you have had communication back, that sounds promising. At least you know they haven't misplaced your file, which is what happened to us.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed you get yours soon!