So, I have a few tidbits of information I feel compelled to share for those of you going through the Ugandan adoption process that I hope you will find helpful.
I’ll start with the news that has got me reeling today, in a good way! There is a family that got denied their VISA at the Embassy just one week before we did and they got their call TODAY! They were asked to change some documentation and the family said everything looks doable. Wow!
For the past week or two I’ve just been trudging along, knowing that we were just in a holding pattern. Just trying not to think about it. But now, I know that our turn is just around the corner!
When your case gets submitted to Nairobi you get put in line and your case gets reviewed in the order it was received. We are so close!
Here are a few statistics that we have gotten from two sources that make us feel even more confident that our sweet Alethia will be home with us soon:
40% of the cases that are submitted to Nairobi are read and approved.
55% of the cases are asked to submit more evidence.
5% of the cases are denied.
The odds are in our favor and our attorney is very hopeful!
Something else that has been brought to my attention is the fear surrounding many adoptive families who are just starting their process or about to travel. I’ve been contacted (as well as our agency and our attorney’s office) by families freaking out because they are realizing that their case sounds very similar to ours. The main factor being that their child has both parents living.
Let me just say that just because your child has both birth parents living does NOT mean that your child will get denied their VISA at the Embassy level and passed onto Nairobi like our case did! Every case is different and it is almost impossible to judge how your case will be handled compared to another case.
This is all based on the definition of “Orphan” with the main emphasis being on the terms “Abandoned” and “Deserted”. I am going to link the USCIS definition of this term to help clarify the requirements, although in some cases, like ours, it is unclear and further investigation needs to happen.
One more very important thing to hear is that the fact that your case gets denied a VISA at the Embassy level is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means more time waiting to bring your precious child home!
From what I can tell, the Embassy is really only a filtering system for USCIS, and the closest USCIS office to Kampala is in Nairobi. In fact, when the Uganda program first started, the process of going to the Embassy wasn’t even IN the process. Everyone was sent to Nairobi. The Embassy really is not allowed to officially deny a VISA, they are only allowed to filter out the “clear” cases and issue VISA’s so not everyone has to wait this additional time to go through Nairobi. The fact that we got denied Alethia’s VISA at the Embassy level only meant that our case was not clear enough to pass through automatically and that it needed to be sent on to the next level to be reviewed by people that really understand the whole system. We feel like everything is there, but the VISA approval or denial is left to the interpretation of the Consular at the Embassy who is doing your investigation.
Being sent to Nairobi is NOT a black hole. In fact, it isn’t even the last step! If you get denied a VISA at USCIS in Nairobi there is at least one other step that can be taken to fight for your child that we know of.
This would have been SO helpful to know. We had NO IDEA that being denied a VISA at the Embassy even happened. We had packed our bags and were ready to come home and when we got the news we thought that that was basically the final word and that we’d be leaving our little girl behind forever!
Why are people not aware that this can happen?! I feel like, mentally, we could have been so much better prepared for that “no” if we knew that it could just be another part of the process, ya know? I feel like people are afraid to talk about it, as if knowing this information may hinder people from signing up to bring these sweet children home.
Adoption is NOT easy! It is NOT predictable! Each case is different! You cannot be fully prepared for what COULD happen! But it IS a call. It IS an act of obedience. And it IS worth it!
I hope you find this helpful!