Wednesday, July 18, 2007

INS, Mining Museum, and an Emergency Dental Visit (all before 10:00AM)

It has been another very interesting day.

First, I headed to INS in central Phoenix (my new home away from home). You see, when one adopts internationally, many, many people get to review your fingerprints; some people even get to do it twice. The FBI is one of those groups. I had an appt to get my fingerprints done by INS last Friday, but I was visiting my family in Delaware so I could not make that appt. (By the way, the term "appointment" is used very loosely by these wonderful folks; David's appt, which was supposed to last 15 minutes, was last Friday at 12:45. He exited the building around 3:00). If you miss your appt., you can go back any Wednesday after your scheduled appt between 8:00 and 2:30. The woman told David that it would be best for me to arrive by 7:15, and that they open the doors at 7:45. Therefore, I left my house at 6:15AM with the hope of getting there by 7:15. This did not happen. I sat in the parking lot otherwise known as I-10 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, landing me at INS at approximately 7:28AM.

By this point, the line that had formed outside was quite similar to those that are formed 30 minutes before opening time outside any establishment at which one would have bloodwork done in the Phoenix area. Very long line. So there I am, standing up, very hot (but thankfully in the shade), reading The Faith Club, and listening to Spanish on all sides, hoping to maybe get a language lesson out of all of it. The problem? They were all talking too quickly and too quietly. At one point, I almost said, "Could you speak up?" but then I remembered that a Spanish lesson for the only English speaker in a 7-block radius probably wasn't first on their priority list.

So, I stand there until 8:00 (let us now remember the part about "We really open at 7:45," and let's also remember that it was already 103 degrees in the shade with 30% humidity) at which point the head INS lady comes out to inform us that we cannot have a cell phone with us AND (and this is the important part) that for the next four days they will ONLY be processing naturalization applications. Am I applying for naturalization? No, I am not. The picture of the woman above fairly accurately represents the expression on my face when the INS Lady in Charge made this announcement (sans cell phone, of course, since those were the rules, after all). So apparently, my status as an already naturalized U.S. Citizen worked against me today and I had to leave my place in line (#5, for the record) and get into my air conditioned vehicle. I was informed that I could return next Wednesday, and when I noted that I will be out of town next Wednesday, I was casually informed that I could most certainly come the NEXT Wednesday, as though they can't wait to see me whenever I do show up. I can also go on a Saturday. So, I plan to attempt to take myself and all four children in there a week from Saturday (while David's traveling back from the land of no cell phones, electricity, or plumbing). I'm sure that'll be a treat for everyone involved. But it takes up to 3 months to get this set of fingerprints processed, and the result is the oh-so important FDL (Favorable Determination Letter) from the U.S. Embassy (I think it's from the Embassy --- at this point, who knows), without which you cannot adopt internationally. So it's somewhat important that we get this taken care of as soon as possible. And if that means having to practically break all parenting rules to keep my children under control in there for up to 2 hours while I wait with a room full of spanish-speaking applicants applying for who knows what, so be it. We'll consider it a cultural experience.

We then headed to the Mining and Minerals Museum in central Phoenix, which was most fascinating. The kids took the place over, running from this to that while I chanted, "The sign says 'don't touch the windows'" and "please don't touch the fossil; it costs $10,000." I think the two lovely 80-year-old women who were no doubt volunteering to take my $2 and tell us where the bathrooms were were more than a bit anxious sitting at their posts watching all this unfold. The kids got to pick out three free rocks (something in this world is still free!) and we bought a crystal growing kit. We just ventured out to the wash behind our house to collect rocks on which to grow crystals which was lovely except that it's 116 out with 30% humidity. Jack said on the way out, "I'm a little freaked out about the passing out." As well he should have been. It was like, "Grab a rock. Any rock. I'm grabbing one for you. I now have 3rd degree burns on my hand." The experiment is complete and we'll now wait to see if the crystals actually grow.

Lest I forget, after emerging from the Mining and Mineral Museum, but before growing our crystals, Grace mentioned that her mouth was really hurting. I looked and found that she had an abscess growing on her gum toward the back of her mouth. What does one do in this situation? She calls her husband and tells him to call the dentist (I can't make such professional calls with the four in the backseat), which he does and calls me back to say "They'll see her in 20 minutes." Twenty minutes later she was fully reclined having this thing drained. Lovely. Apparently something got caught in there and it got infected and swelled and will take 10 or so more days to heal. Lovely. "It's no problem," she professed. "I can still eat on the other side."

The two documents I was waiting on from Illinois thankfully arrived today (anyone who saw me at the mailbox likely determined that either I had gotten something important or my feet had caught fire), so now all we're waiting on is our home study which is presently being reviewed by our agency. By next Friday, I hope (read: plan) to have it all submitted and be "on the list." And what better reason to buy a very large chocolate cake!