Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picking up [T]-- Day 4

Tuesday began our real saga with the Italian Embassy. (No pictures today since taking pictures of an embassy is just a really bad idea.) They had recently made a change to their policy (starting June 1st) where they no longer made appointments for visa applications. Instead you had to show up at 8:30am outside the gates and they would allow around 12 applicants inside. So of course we showed up early, not wanting to be #13 in line. So we waited with [T] in tow from 7:45 – 8:30am to be admitted inside the gate. Then we spent a few minutes in the gates but outside the building. At 8:45am they let us inside the building into a tiny room with only enough space for about 20 chairs and that many people. We sat down and waited until a bit after 9am for them to start helping people. We were called as one of the first people because they must have thought we had Italian citizenship when Dan said he worked there. Getting in didn’t help us, though, because we didn’t have the paperwork he wanted—specifically the US Visa in [T]’s passport, but he also listed a few things we didn’t have such as our marriage certificate and a printout of our travel itinerary in and out of Italy. (We had the one out of Ethiopia, but not of our trip to the US.) They also said that if we came on Friday (since we wouldn’t be getting the visa from the US Embassy until Thursday) they could not get the Schengen Visa completed until the following Mon at the very earliest. We left a bit discouraged. Plus, I will not go into detail, but it is no small ordeal to get a page printed off the internet here, so getting our missing documents printed took about a full day. It may not sound long, but think about how most people have a printer at home and can print something in a few seconds.

To make sure Tuesday was a very full day, our agency then took us on a shopping trip with the other adoptive families then home for lunch and off to the US embassy in the afternoon.

Two embassies in one day is 2 too many. I will say that the US Embassy was much nicer to deal with. They have two waiting rooms for people coming for Visas and one had a big play area for children. While there were twice the number of people there—many who were also adopting children, our wait time was probably about the same. We were at the Italian Embassy from 7:45-9:30am and at the American Embassy from 3:00pm to 5:15 or so. At least [T] had something to do while we were waiting which made the time go much quicker.

So this is how the process goes. When it is your turn, you go up to a window with a worker behind it. They ask you some questions about the adoption and how your child became available for adoption. A form is filled out and signed and that is about it. Our worker was amazing! He was nice and we kept joking with him. We expressed how we needed to make sure we got an IR-3 instead of an IR-4 Visa because of our living in Italy, and he made sure to get that done. We then joked about how this process was so much better than going to the Italian Embassy—and joked about how they must be bitter about losing in the World Cup. Then, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it came up how we really could use some help speeding up the process since we did have to work with the Italians. He quickly talked to his co-worker and it was done—our Visa would be done the next day by 3:30pm instead of the normal two-day wait. We were ecstatic!

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