Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bad news upon bad news

Ahmed had originally planned to leave on the 5th June and visit his family in Toronto for a week on his way back to Abu Dhabi. In our last-ditch attempt to try and get some official part of the process done while he was still here, he moved his flight back to the 13th June and would be arriving in Abu Dhabi at midnight the night before stepping in the classroom at 8am. Cutting it fine.

We were still holding out some hope that DIF might be able to squeeze our appointments in before Ahmed left. We arranged another meeting with Aida.

Bad news: turns out there are three judges in the Tijuana family court, and we've got the finickity one. Our judge likes to get all the paperwork very thoroughly checked over before issuing the letter asking for DIF to conduct our interviews. And there are a few things she's not happy with. Firstly, we need a letter stating that Maya will be sponsored to be resident in Abu Dhabi. This letter needs to be on official letterhead from Ahmed's University, then legalized by our lawyer in Dubai, then legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai, then certified a true copy by the Mexican Embassy in Lebanon, then sent to Tijuana. Secondly, our residence visas in our passports are in Arabic, and not translated. We need official translations.

I'm distraught, as last time we did this whole couriering thing, it took over three weeks. I can hardly bear to wait another day.
It's the last week of term, and a lot of the support staff at Zayed University have left, but luckily there is one person in the HR department there able to print out and courier this letter to Dubai to get that started.
I find all the Embassies in Mexico City of Arabic-speaking countries to find out if there is perhaps an official Arabic translator somewhere in Mexico.
Aida works her magic, and thankfully in the meantime, our judge will accept a faxed copy of the letter which will eventually make its way to her, and has found a translator for the visas. So now we just wait until the letter is ready to go to DIF.

More bad news: DIF definitely won't be able to interview us while Ahmed's still here. In fact, the letter's unlikely to be written in time, even. So we are now bracing ourselves for him needing to come to Mexico again. He's used all his annual leave up on this trip, so we're not sure how he'll manage it. He will be teaching for eight weeks straight with no possibility to take even a long weekend. Plus, it's literally the other side of the world, and not exactly cheap.

I'm struggling not to just spend Ahmed's last week here in constant flood of tears.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paperchase #6 - let's get this party started!

Here is a day-by-day account of our past week of paper chasing:

Tuesday, 27th May:
We went and sat in the Tijuana Gobernacion visa office to meet the woman fresh from her Shanghai trip. After two hours of patiently waiting outside, we finally saw her. She asked us various questions about our reasons for adopting, and why Mexico. I didn't realise that this was any of her business, but using my most carefully chosen Spanish, and avoiding the past tense (I still don't know how to form past tense verbs!) I explained that we want a family, and we chose Mexico because as a signatory to the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoptions, it is one of the countries that New Zealand accepts adoptions from, and we are keen to keep the background culture of our baby alive, and I speak Spanish, etc. Meanwhile Maya smiled and worked her charm. Ahmed sat there like the wonderful papa he is with Maya in the frontpack, understanding perhaps 20% of the conversation. We did our best to be the model family.
She told us that she would have a decision for us 'mañana'.

Wednesday, 28th May:
It's now mañana. We traipsed back into town with our patient baby. No decision. Mañana.

Thursday, 29th May:
It's now another mañana. Back to same office. Today she told us that she couldn't issue the visas, giving 'a change in the computer system' as her reason. But she said that the Tecate visa office will issue them, on the same day, if we just drive over there. We asked if she's spoken to the Tecate office to ensure that this is correct, and if they're expecting us. She said yes, yes, it's just a case of driving over there. Aida, our lawyer, was dubious. But, we were ready to drive to the moon, so off we go. We had to go via Aida's office, for her to retype and print out the applications for our FM3 visas, and then we followed Aida to Tecate, 40 kms away, in our hot car, with broken airconditioning, and an empty petrol tank. But no time to stop and fill up, as the office in Tecate was due to close any minute.
We got to Tecate, and the visa officer in charge had never heard of us. She had not received any notification from the Tijuana office about us, and in any case, there's no way she could issue same-day FM3 visas. We sat dejectedly in her office feeding Maya the last of the bottles we had brought with us (who knew we'd be out all day, driving across the countryside?) while Aida tried to explain our situation, and they both tried to contact the devious Shanghai returnee, smugly sitting in Tijuana, glad to have got this desperate family out of her hair. Grrrr, I wish Maya hadn't wasted any of her smiles on her.
Well, the visa-issuing woman came to the party and said if we came back on Monday 2nd June, she could issue the FM3 visas then. It would involve paying for the visas again (US$700), but like I said, we would have driven to the moon if they'd asked us.
The drive home to Playas was horrendous, with a hot, sweaty, and by now, hungry baby in the back seat who screamed for the last 40 minutes of the trip, as we crawled home, stopping at one red light after another. Heart-wrenching, and I blamed it all on Shanghai-lady.

Monday, 2nd June:
Another hot trip back to Tecate with enough feed to sink an army of babies this time. We were there at the office by 8am. I went to pay the fee at the local bank on a day when I counted 72 people in the queue as I waited. Aida had to drive back to Tijuana to pick up Maya's birth certificate. Finally at about midday they were ready to start typing up the visa booklet and adoption permit letter. Aida went back to Tijuana, while Ahmed, Maya and I hung out in Tecate and had our shoes shined in a local park. We also tried Tostilocos, which sorry, are just weird! Nacho chips, crunchy peanuts, chili mango, jicama (a juicy potato-like vegetable), chamoy (a sweet/sour sauce) and various other unidentifiable objects in a cup. A beggar approached us after we had clearly rejected it, and sat eating the Tostilocos, giving us a thumbs up every couple of minutes. He was clearly enjoying it.
Finally at 2pm, we could pick up our precious visas, 6 weeks after applying for them originally in Tijuana. Thank you Tecate!
We took them to Aida, who needed to take them to our judge, to officially start the proceedings - our official start date. Finally.

Ahmed's middle name was spelled incorrectly, and he was listed as a New Zealander, not Canadian. So...

Tuesday, 3rd June:
Hello Tecate, here we come, again. We drove back to Tecate, and luckily this time, it was a simple case of making the corrections and reprinting them. The visa officer, who needed to sign the papers, however, didn't come into the office until about 11am, so we still had a couple of hours of sitting around waiting for her. We do nothing but wait these days, but this is definitely good for testing out my patience. I'm becoming quite a patient person. A surprising benefit of all this madness.

Aida was finally able to take our dossier to our judge and 'start' our case. Maya's now 3 months and 3 days. I've now been in Mexico for 11 weeks.