Just about 24 hours ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a story on our roller coaster: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2014/07/28/ohio-family-topsy-turvy-trip-china-adoption/13284373/
At the time, I’d been told the system was again operational. We said goodbye to the families that had been stuck last week and celebrated that with all hoops already cleared, we should be home on time…home to celebrate the reunion we’ve been dreaming of for over a year.
I do still recognize that we are extremely fortunate. We are trying to make the most of a bad situation but I also think it’s important for others-especially government officials who may be able to make a CHANGE-know the impact this “glitch” and the inability to fix it is having on families like mine. A snapshot of my last 12 hours:
-Making the difficult decision of who returns home to our Hannah
-Seeing our family separated for a long, international travel as Adam and Bob took the van to Hong Kong and we stay behind with no future flight booked
-Eli crying as he waved goodbye. Our guide trying to explain….to a 7-year-old who has waited his entire life to have a family….and from the day he met us, has asked every day since when he can meet his sister.
-Spending more than 20 minutes (at international call rates) on the phone with United. Exceptionally grateful they waived our change fees but still facing more than $500 per seat for last-minute flights.
-Working with our hotel to go night-by-night with points. We have enough for tonight and one additional night. After that, it’s more than $200 per night (for one of very few accessible hotels in the area)
-Video calling my 4-year-old to tell her that the “sticker machine” is still broken and Eli and I can’t come home. Comforting her as she cries because she’s been counting down the days and tomorrow was THE day.
-Messaging friends and family that there won’t be the airport homecoming to celebrate we were home as a family.
-Comforting Eli as he went to sleep crying for Baba
-Attempting to sign consent waivers for my Senators and Congressmen and women working on our behalf to find out the problem and FIX it.
I know there are so many important issues in the world right now but I hope government officials know the hardships American families are facing-all for a sticker printed from a system with no manual override. I pray this is fixed tomorrow for us but this should NEVER happen again. It is inexcusable. Our family is full of joy with our new addition but we will never get back what we’ve lost due to what should have been a smooth last step of literally dozens we’ve sailed by to get here.
As of midnight tonight, we have no updates in more than 12 hours. We have cancelled our flights for Donna, me, and Eli. We have no options to rebook because there’s no timeline of when we might get Eli’s visa. When we receive it, we’ll then compete with more than 30 families for very few, extremely expensive last-minute seats home.
I am mad and I am sad but I also feel lifted up by our friends and family. Your prayers and positive vibes cross the ocean and we are so thankful. Your comments, shares, and encouragement have been so helpful to pull us through the last few darker hours. Thank-you!
A few people have asked how they can help. Here are some ideas:
-Contact your Senators and Representatives to express your frustration that the US Visa system remains down. Explain that adoptive families with children with disabilities are stranded and this should be an extremely urgent matter. Our Senators (Portman and Brown) and Representative Wenstrup have been exceptionally helpful and responsive but others need to join their call for this matter to be resolved.
-Continue to help us share our story. Join us for a united social media campaign in an attempt to get other major media outlets to care about this ongoing problem. We’ve used hashtags #StuckinChinaNeedVisa and #fullheartsneedvisa (because who can resist a Friday Night Lights Reference). Tweet major media outlets like @CNN and @NPR to ask them to cover this crisis. If you have any creative ideas to get media attention, we’re up for those too.
-If you would like contribute financially to these immense, unexpected expenses, the most efficient method at this time would be PayPal writekara at gmail.com. Please “gift” the amount so that PayPal doesn’t deduct their fees. Our AdoptTogether nonprofit account is still open but it does take a bit longer to reach us.
-If you or someone you know has extra Marriott Rewards points, donations of 15,000 points per night would help us offset the cost of our room. You would actually have to call Marriott Rewards directly to book it for us so please contact me via email writekara at gmail dot com for details.
-Know that the adoption process can be scary, unpredictable, and frustrating but it has also been one of the most joyful, heart-bursting, rewarding experiences of my life. This has never happened before (last week) and HOPEfully, will attract the attention that is apparently needed to get it remedied for GOOD.
-Keep us in your prayers, thoughts, and wishes. We can’t stress enough that THS is the kind of support we most cherish. Thank-you:)
I will post updates as we have them.