Sunday, September 26, 2010

I-800 Approval and Article 5 Letter

Our I-800 approval came in a really miraculous way. After having waited for, worried about, prayed for, cried over, and prayed again for our I-800A approval, which had taken quite a while to be issued, we were bracing ourselves for a similar experience with our I-800 processing. On September 1, Catherine went on a ten-day Catholic trip to Europe, carrying her and all the family's petitions to Our Lady of Lourdes. When kissing me at the airport, she told me that there might be good news before she was back. Yet, as I walked back to our van, I felt totally distraught. It may sound silly, given that Catherine is already 24--but still I could not bear the idea of not being able to hug her for 10 full days!!! (Please, don't laugh at me!) I felt completely pessimistic over the I-800 processing. We all love that little boy soooooo very much!!! And he does love his new family in return. What if anything happened? How many hearts would be shattered? How many lives would be affected forever? What if--???

That Wednesday, September 3, my mom said she'd pray and pray not only for that I-800 approval as she had been doing since the time of filing, but also for it to arrive in some unexpected way, without too much distress for any of us. It was Friday, September 3, after business hours, right at the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend, at a time when what anyone would least expect was any news from an immigration office. Without knowing why, that day I had started feeling some feeble optimism I had been unable to feel before. Suddenly I realized I had forgotten to pay my car insurance. I dialed the Unitrin number, and tried to get through to the automated payment line, but couldn't get past the initial greeting and prompt. I started pressing random buttons, and somehow I got connected to my voicemail. It had not been my intention to listen to my messages at that moment, but--well, I decided I'd rather make sure there was nothing important I might be missing. My heart froze upon realization that one of those messages was from the officer at the N.B.C. in Missouri who was processing our file. Yet, even though the message was not totally precise, I could immediately understand that our worries were over. That message was coming from a friend, not from an enemy. The officer was even saying he had been able to correct an inadvertent mistake because the rest of the information clearly showed that on one question I had checked the wrong box. (BTW, what a shame for someone who by profession is an immigration attorney!!! The officer did not say that, though.)

My mom had spent that very same day praying all day--like she had been doing since the petition had been filed, but even more. And she had also prayed for the news to come without all the stress of waiting and waiting for the letter carrier, and checking and checking our mailbox one thousand times a day. We had been doing that for our I-800A approval, but were too tired out to do it again. That same day Catherine had deposited her and our entire family's petitions before Our Lady of Lourdes. Gerard and Warren had had only one request--yet a double one: for Stephen, their new brother, to be home before Christmas, and for Maximilian and Philip to follow shortly thereafter.

I also knew that my dad and my grandparents were helping from above. In 2008, when the visas for Thomas and Nicholas were in process at the U.S. Consulate at Port-au-Prince, their files had been sent to a mysterious office from where they could take months to return. A few nights after the bad news I had dreamt that the doorbell rang, and there was my dad, who had passed away in `1992, holding both of my new sons. "I decided to go in person to Haiti and bring them to all of you," he told me. "I knew that Catheine, Gerard, and Warren could not wait any more. I filled out all the paperwork. Only I left blank the boys' middle names because I was not sure which ones you wanted for them."  In reality, if you adopt from Haiti, you cannot change your children's first and middle names until you're back to your place of permanent residence. But, as I hugged my dad one last time in my dream, it would be only a matter of a couple of days for the files to be returned to where they were supposed to be and for our boys' visas to be issued.

I could feel the same help from above this time too. Then Victoria e-mailed me as the officer had contacted her to make sure of that little point in which I had checked the wrong box. By the way, it may be a shame for an immigration attorney to make a mistake when filling out a form that is so vital for her and her entire family. The same officer who had taken so very long to approve our I-800A petition had even asked Victoria to tell us not to worry any more.

My dad, Armando C.E. Godone-Signanini

One of the last pictures we have of my dad

My maternal Grandma, Theresa Maresca-Soracco

My maternal Grandpa, Francesco Soracco

Catherine at Lourdes (that SAME Friday, 09/03/10), during her trip to Europe

When I called the officer on Tuesday morning, September 6, our approval letter was already on its way.  The NBC had also sent the communciation to the NVC, and from there it was sent electronically to the Consulate in Sofia on September 14. Toni scheduled the provisional filing for the earliest date, which was September 24, and got verbal approval. She was promised that our Article 5 Letter would be generated early this week. Let's keep on praying.

Last minute update: Yesterday, on Sunday evening, September 26, I unexpectedly found an e-mail from Toni: She had gotten a call from the Consulate, letting her know that the Godone-Maresca Article 5 Letter was ready to be picked up. Praised be the Lord!!! Thank You, Our Lord!!! Thank You, Our Lady!!! Thank you, St. Anthony, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Stephen, St. Gerard!!! As you may have already noticed, once again the news came by surprise, before the time we expected to get any news. That might be just a little detail--and yet a BIG one if you consider how extremely worried we all were. After all, my mom had prayed for us to be spared any further anxiety, hadn't she?


Renee said...

I have been following your blog for a couple of months now. I'm so glad that Stephen will be home soon. He is such a handsome little guy! Your children are amazing. I know you are very proud of them. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers.

Leah said...

When you finally get to Sofia, you will have to give Toni a hug from Leah. She is an amazing woman, with a heart for God and the orphans of Bulgaria that knows no limits! She, and the rest of her family who all work with her, are angels delivered straight from heaven!

Blessedmom said...

Thank you sooo much for your words, Renee. God bless, Lillian

Blessedmom said...

Leah, be sure I will give Toni one more hug for you. She definitely is an angel from God. I couldn't agree more. God bless, Lillian


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