the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Never Ending Story

Greg and I are still plugging away at everything. It is getting quite depressing. Everytime we think we have taken a step forward, it is only to find out that there are about 20 more steps that we either forgot about or weren't aware of. I was getting excited because as of yesterday we were both fingerprinted and we got that out of the way. Then we realized that we still had to send our fingerprints to the FBI for clearances, after getting that back we need to have a letter notarized that everything is official, then we have to send that to the Secretary of State to be certified, followed by getting it authenticated in NYC. There are several things we can be doing at the same time but it is still disheartening to feel so far away after all this work.

We attended a parenting class last weekend. The point of the class was to discuss parenting issues that would be specific to adopted children and inter-racial families. There was so much information and we got to talk to several other families that are adopting from Guatemala and other countries. We both walked away feeling so much better informed, but also more overwhelmed. We realize that we have no idea how challenging parenting can be, but now we are going to faced with the added challenge of raising an adopted child of a different race. Greg came to the realization last night that all we are for this child is the best babysitter. All we can do is the best that we can and then mostly hope for the best that we don't mess him up too badly!

In good news, our home study is ALMOST done. Our social worker is waiting to receive via mail two more forms from Greg and I and a reference letter, all which should be on its way. She said it will take her about 2 weeks from when she receives everything to finish the home study. Once that gets sent to USCIS we will just have to wait around for our I-171H (approval to adopt internationally). USCIS claims it takes 3 weeks for us to get our approval but most stories that I hear are more like 6-8 weeks. Then finally there will be light at the end of the tunnel. After our I-171H is received we will get our referral and be matched with our son!

Of course, then there are all the issues of dealing with the US Embassy in Guatemala. It seems that most of the hold ups in the adoption process through Guatemala are not Guatemala's doing, it is the US Embassy down there not performing their jobs. This infuriates me, and it should infuriate all tax paying American citizens because they are wasting our tax dollars by not performing their jobs. I am a government employee and the minute someone in my agency is caught slacking off, the media is all over it, policies are changed, and the guilty party or parties are disciplined. This is not the case with our Embassy. Greg and I have written letters to our senators and so have a few of our friends and family. I urge everyone to do the same. Below is an email briefly explaining some of the issues with the embassy and information on how to contact your senators and congressmen. Please do us all a favor by pushing for changes and insisting that your tax dollars not be wasted on incompetence.


Hello Friends and Family,

We are asking for your help in preparing a quick email to your state representative on our and other adoptive families' behalf in regards to the US Embassy in Guatemala. The attorneys who are currently handling all American adoption cases are having an extremely difficult time with the US Embassy. It is actually quite embarrassing to talk about our own embassy in another country like this but if each of you sends at least one complaint, it would help a ton of people, like us, who are currently in the adoption process in Guatemala. Here are some of the situations that are happening at the Embassy with regards to the inadequacy of the employees and their utter disrespect towards the attorneys that we are paying to handle our adoption.

Window # 8 at the embassy is supposed to be strictly for adoptions and the people working the window handle a multitude of other issues that can be taken care of at any of the other windows at the embassy. They are never on time to work at this window and some days they even completely ignore the people waiting at the window to do their adoption business. The standard is that they are supposed to see 40 people a
day, when in fact they sometimes only see 1 to 2 people a day. They are also arbitrarily looking for nonexistent errors in paperwork and instead of having the attorney correct it immediately, they make the attorney leave and then come back at a different time and day.  There is no consistency in which cases are judged; some get by without any issues and other cases get picked apart to find any type of "error". Sometimes paperwork gets denied for absolutely no justified reason. Forms that the Embassy gives the lawyers are not legible most of the time due to poor photocopying and then once the paperwork is completed, that same paper will get rejected from the Embassy because the lawyer may have tried to make a better copy of the document and the embassy rejects it because of this. The last thing, is that the US Embassy in Guatemala's employees, who you pay their salaries through your tax
dollars, are completely disrespectful the Guatemalan Attorneys working on our behalf. The Embassy is the reason that the adoption processes are taking so long in Guatemala!

Please go to the website below and either copy and paste a portion of this email or write your own letter to complain about the US Embassy in Guatemala on behalf of us and other families. The more people complain, the more attentionthis matter will get. It will just take a minute, and it would mean so very much to us.

Greg and Annie

This website can be used to look up the Senators and Congressmen for your area:


Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Dark Side

Most of the updates so far have had a running theme of me talking about all we have accomplished and just how excited and happy we are that we are getting one step closer to bringing our son home. We are still extremely excited and happy about getting our son in our arms, but lately all I want to do is bitch about it. So, here I go.

Why does this have to be so hard? A baby is born. That baby has no parents. We want to be its parents. We are good, loving people. Baby and us get united and we live happily ever after. Right? Right? Please tell me I am right!

We are still stuck in the middle of this paperchase. There are a few more things that we need such as our FBI fingerprints, some pictures, and a couple of forms notarized. There are three other things that are the focus of all my grief at this point.

First, Greg's employment verification letter. This should be simple enough, you would think. Our agency gave us a template of exactly what Guatemala needs to see in the letter. Greg filled in all the information with his own name, salary, etc. All his employee needed to do was verify, copy it onto company letterhead and sign it. Easy enough. Yeah, I thought so too. Instead, they decided to not use the letter he provided them. They decided to write their own and include what they wanted to. This probably wouldnt have been a big deal except that Guatemala needs to see the phrase "in good standing" in this letter. Greg's company decided they didnt want to include that statement. So, off to get them to do it again.

Number two is our marriage certificate. We need to have a new official marriage certificate that was issued within the last 6 months. I called Beaver County Register of Wills and it turned out to be quite simple to obtain. All I had to do was send in a letter saying I needed this official marriage certificate with a self-addressed stamped envelope and $5, and they would fulfill my request. I was even more excited that a mere three days later I got something in the mail from them. It was a receipt for the $5 and what appeared to me to be a letter stating that Greg and I are indeed married according to their records. I dont know much about this kind of thing but I am thinking that if this looks like a letter to me, it will certainly look like a letter to the Guatemalan government. Nowhere on this letter was anything saying that it was issued on any particular date during the last 6 months, only a statement saying it was certified last week. I emailed our case worker and she confirmed that this document would not work.

Finally, our medical letters. I am not even sure that this is a problem yet but I am anticipating that it will be. Greg and I have to get physicals done. We have to have a letter from our doctor stating that we are in good health, he did this physical, he doesnt see any reason why we would die soon, and that he would recommend us to adopt. Easy enough. Oh, that is because I forgot to mention that these letters have to be notarized. They dont have a notary in their office so somehow I have to arrange to take my trusty notary with us (keep in mind, she has a real job and just cant take off work to go everywhere with me). I am still keeping my fingers crossed for option #2 which I dont want to be posting on a public webpage since it may not be the absolute "right" way to do things. It doesnt help that all I have read are horror stories about getting doctors to do these letters correctly.

I had a minor breakdown last night, wondering how anyone can survive this whole process. I am feeling much better now after repeating the words of Roger Clyne over and over in my head, "This aint't not joke, You gotta know how to bend if you dont wanna get broke... You gotta go a little loco to stay sane."

I am also feeling a little better since it seems that the marriage certificate extravaganza is coming to a close. I spoke again to Beaver County Courthouse personnel. Actually, I spoke to two different people since the first woman decided to transfer me after my irrate behavior. Maybe it wasnt the best tactic, but after I (not so calmly) explained (ie. stretched the truth) that the only thing standing in the way of me and my son was a piece of paper they had control of. Someone from the courthouse contacted our agency to make sure they had the right thing and today my new marriage certificate should be placed in the mail. Although it is a lesson that I never intend to teach my son, sometimes screaming and crying does get you what you want.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Home Study - Check!

Okay, so the home study is really only a partial check. I was getting excited is all.

Yesterday we had our first home study visit. Normally you need to have two visits with the social worker but since we are attending a parenting seminar held by our social worker DeNese we only need to have one visit. It ended up being more educational for us than I expected. I thought we would be providing more information to her, but it turned out to be the opposite.

First we gave DeNese a tour of our house and she asked to see things like bedrooms, bathrooms, the garage, smoke detectors, and the carbon monoxide detector. Then we sat down to talk. Greg and I had prepared autobiographies and another long question/answer form talking about our history, our hobbies, and our plans for the future with our child. This will all help her write a 6-7 page paper on the two of us to send in with our I-600A and to send to Guatemala. We went through a check list of all the things she needed us to submit to her and got to check off several of those. Mostly we talked about what we can expect being a trans-racial family and having an adopted child - questions that will be asked, support groups we can join, etc. We talked about creating a scrapbook/lifebook to help our child understand where he came from. She made me feel even more excited about our family growing!

After she left Greg and I both felt that things were more real. DeNese kept referring to the child that we will adopt as "he". Over and over it was "he will do this" or "he will ask that". It was just one more step closer to us realizing that this isnt just an idea anymore. This is a human being and he will be our son.

We had taken the morning off work so we tried to tackle one more thing. We headed downtown to the immigration office to be fingerprinted - a requirement for the I-600A to be approved. It was a simple process, however finding a place to park in the middle of the day downtown was not so easy. We still need to get one other set of fingerprints done that need to be included in our dossier.

I guess the next things on the list are getting physicals and letters from our doctor. (Getting those letters completed and notarized properly should be interesting.) We have to get a couple of referral letters and that is in the works too. Oh, and then there are the other mountains of paperwork.


Monday, March 13, 2006


I havent given an update lately. Some of you are probably thinking that we have been at a bit of a standstill. However, it has been quite the opposite. We have been so busy getting things together for the adoption that I have not had the chance to write.

The first of our home study visits is this Wednesday. During this visit, we will have a social worker come to our home to talk and ask questions concerning our thoughts on adoption as well as who we are as individuals and as a couple. The completed home study involves a profile of us that gets sent to Guatemala, basically to convince them that we will be good parents. After reading on numerous websites, it seems that people get pretty anxious about the home study. I can see that it could be nerve racking to have someone come into your home and you have to prove that you are worthy of parenting a child. Greg and I know that we will be good parents so this whole process isnt that unsettling.

All the paperwork is rather unsettling. I could go on and on about all the stipulations. I have read several other adoption blogs where people have talked about all the paperwork that is necessary. You will never really believe it until you are doing it. There are endless forms, letters from employers and doctors, newly issued birth certificates and marriage certificates, fingerprints (2 different sets!), police clearances, child abuse clearances, power of attorney, guardianship, financial profiles, and even pictures. Yes, we have to give them pictures of us. Included in the pictures has to be two "lifestyle" pictures. (Greg suggested submitting pictures of us sitting at our computers ignoring each other.) We also need to have two formal pictures, one of which needs to be full length. Apparently if our legs are too fat or our feet are out of proportion with the rest of our body, then that is confirmation that we would be bad parents.

The stipulations that are involved with filling all these things out is crazy too. I imagine it is just the Guatemala government trying to prove that they wont just give the children away to anyone, and that they really do look through the paperwork. All the records that we have notarized, must be notarized by someone whose notary does not expire in the next year. When the notary signs, they have to make sure that the seal is pressed all the way through the paper and that each letter of their signature is legible. On top of that, all the notarized forms must then be sent to the Secretary of State and have a certification attached, certifying that the person who notarized the record is indeed a valid notary. Once all our paperwork gets submitted to Guatemala, it will inevitably be kicked out of the courts there and sent back for revision, at least once but probably multiple times. Reasons for it to get kicked out include handwriting that looks different from one line to the next, different colored ink, removed staples, and smudged ink.

I think our favorite document that must be included at this time is the name affidavit. We have to write up a list of all the names that we are known by. Apparently whoever reads these forms in Guatemala is not able to figure out that Ann Kline and Mrs. Ann Kline are the same people.

That is what we have been up to. We still have some paperwork to finish before the home study visit this week. We both had to write an autobiography. We havent had the chance to read each others but it should be interesting to see if we have the same ideas on what kind of activites we like to do together and our ideas on adoption. I find some of the questions very difficult, if not impossible, to answer. We have to talk about why we want children. It is like asking someone why they want to have chocolate cake for dessert. You dont know. You just know that you would like it very much.

I would like to take a second to thank a couple of people.

First of all, Val. Thanks so much! Val is going to do a lot of notarizing for us. She has donated her services and her time and I just cant thank her enough. It just puts me at ease to know if something isnt notarized correctly, that I wont have to look crazy running after some notary I dont know to tell him/her that I have a hard time differentiating between the i and the e in their signature. Val will understand my insanity. Really Val, I dont know how we would do this without you.

Also, I want to thank a coworker of mine who I dont want to mention by name at this time. He offered to take a letter to be notarized during his lunch hour for me, asking for nothing in return. Actually, he did ask for something. Turns out that his wife and him are also thinking of adopting internationally and he wants to know how it goes. He may not understand why I am acting so crazy right now but some day he may. Thank you for your help!

On a bit of a side note, I had a couple of interesting dreams over the weekend. Some dreams I have are so vivid that I know there must be some sort of symbolic meaning behind them. By investigating one of my dreams a few years ago, I knew that I was going to marry Greg. I had a dream over the weekend that Greg and I were looking at a new house that was still in the process of being built. A new house in a dream is symbolic of entering a new phase of your life. It would only make sense that the house was still under construction.

In the other dream I had, I was trying to cross a river. The river was in flood stage and the center of the river was raging and flowing with impressive speed. I was nervous about crossing but my brother-in-law told me to just go for it. He knew that he could cross the river and he claimed he wasnt even a good swimmer. I made it across the river and on the other side I found some areas where the water was very calm and clear. Greg joined me and so did several other family members where we all splashed and played in the calm water, in celebration of the raging river that we just crossed. A raging river signifies being out of control. With a little encouragement, we were able to get through that out of control area and celebrate in the joy of the calm serenity on the other side. Through this whole crazy process, I am certain that we will make it through and be able to enjoy the rewards for a lifetime.