Tuesday, December 28, 2004

December 28, 2004 – Piece of Cake

Today was the day that we have been working toward for over 17 months. Spencer received his visa to come to the United States and become a US citizen. The process of getting to today was long and very difficult. Getting the actual visa was really easy.

Our day began at 12:30 AM with continual jack hammering, pounding, and general construction noise of a new apartment complex they are building behind the hotel. It ends up that they are working on the site 24/6. I guess they take Sunday off, because I didn’t hear them on Sunday night. Almaty obviously doesn’t have any noise ordinances, because it was non-stop. After I gave Spencer a small bottle of formula, he went back to sleep no problem. It was dad who was getting pissy with each bang of the hammer. Fortunately, Gina left me some ear plugs, and I covered my head with a pillow.

We got up at around 8:00 am. Gina called to check in and see how things were going. After talking with her, I decided to stay in the room for the next two nights, and use the earplugs. It ends up it doesn’t matter where you stay, there is always some construction going on in the City. The Hyatt, which is the nicest hotel in town, has construction going on next to it as well.

I hit the buffet with Spencer in toe. The jack hammering knocked my rose colored glasses off. The buffet was nice, but didn’t make up for all the construction noise. I took a bottle with me and a wool blanket from the room. After I got my food, I set Spencer on the ground on top of the wool blanket with the bottle. He sucked away while I chowed down some salad and pastries.

We hung out and played the rest of the morning. At around 1:30, Almaz came to pick us and go souvenir shopping. I finally bought the fur hat in the department store. It’s very nice looking, and has flaps that fold over my ears. It was about $50 more than if I bought it in Karaganda at the hat vendor on the street, but it was worth it. I also picked up a coffee table book, and some knick-knacks to bring home. Next, we hit a Turkish restaurant for some shiskabob. Then it was off to the embassy for our visa interview.

I was expecting Spencer and me to be taken into a small dark room and grilled about why we wanted a Visa and what were we thinking. Actually it was really easy and the people were very friendly. There were no torture devices, spot lights, or chairs with straps. I guess I’ve been reading too many spy novels.

The consular section of the embassy is on the top floor of a 17 story building on the upperside of Almaty. I made a slight error and took a picture of the building from the car. Fortunately, no one saw me do it, or I would have been shot on site. We headed through security and were escorted to the waiting room. The room has about 40 chairs, and 5 or 6 booths with bullet proof two way glass. We got to the room first, which was a good thing since there ended up being roughly 10 other babies coming through for Visas.

I brought a hole bunch of back up paperwork included our home study, tax returns, power of attorney, extra pictures of Gina with Spencer, an extra I 600 form that Gina signed, plus a copy of the whole package we sent over to Kazakhstan. Basically, I had every piece of paper we had accumulated over the last 17 months for the adoption. And they didn’t ask for any of it.

The interview was more of an informational session by the embassy staff member. First, he handed me Spencer’s passport with the US visa on one of the sheets in the back. From there, he simply made me take an oath that I was Spencer’s sponsor, sign some forms we handed in the day before, and asked me some survey questions about our time in Kazakhstan. He then gave me a “sealed” envelope that I could not open and needed to hand over to immigration in San Francisco. I was expecting the seal to be made of a top secret material that was impossible break without a special top secret tool. It ends up its friggin’ scotch tape!! I guess the budget cuts have really hit the State Department.

After the appointment, Almaz dropped us off at the hotel. It wasn’t until I got to the room did I realize what a momentous occasion it was. Gina and I now have all the paperwork completed for Spencer to come home. I looked at his Kazak passport, looked at the visa, and started crying. WE CAN FINALLY GO HOME!!!!!


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