Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kathryn or Katherine?

Well, Katie has been home with us for a little over 2 months, and for a little under 2 months, we've been dealing with her name. We chose the spelling Kathryn for Katie's name for 2 reasons: we prefer the way it looks, and we have ancestors on both sides with that same spelling. When we were in Moscow in May, Andrei and Sergei needed to draft some documents for the court hearing with her new name, so Andrei had us write that down. He was very insistent that we spell it correctly the way we want it to be spelled so that there are no mistakes. We got the message after the first time he told us, and we wrote down her new name for him.

Between our second and third trips Andrei obtained the court decree, birth certificate, adoption certificate, etc. and the translators translated them into English for us, for the Embassy, and for Immigration. When we returned for our third and final trip, Andrei had all these documents and he was pretty much guarding them with his life until we went through the Embassy at the end of the week. I don't think he trusted us very much. When we finally were able to see the documents, we saw that every single one had her name spelled Katherine. While that is a beautiful spelling, it is not the one that we chose for our daughter. The problem is that even though there are several ways to spell that name in English, there is only one way to spell it in Russian. Russian is a phonetic alphabet so there is only one way to write each sound in a word. Therefore, going from English to Russian was quite simple, but going from Russian to English means the translator needs to make sure he/she chooses the correct spelling. There is a standard handbook that translators use, and apparently it has the spelling of Katherine. This wouldn't have been a problem if the error had been caught and new translations were completed. However, this did not occur, and by the time we even saw the documents it was too late. Andrei had already sent all the translators on vacation because except for us, there wasn't going to be any more work for them for 2-3 more weeks. There was no one to correct all these documents, so we had to submit them as they were to the Embassy and Immigration.

After we returned home, we contacted Olga at our agency and explained the problem to her. She redid the translations for the birth certificate, adoption certificate, and adoption decree with the correct spelling. Meanwhile, the Certificate of Citizenship arrived with, of course, the wrong spelling. We have to use this certificate to get Katie's social security number, so we're stuck until that gets corrected. I contacted our local USCIS office and inquired about what I need to do. If Immigration made an error, then they will replace the certificate for free. If Immigration did not make an error, then there is a fee of $380 to replace the certificate. They requested copies of the original documents to see how her name was spelled to determine if they are at fault. Three weeks later, USCIS informed me that all the documents had her name as Kathryn except for one: the adoption decree. According to USCIS, they have to go by the name as it appears in the adoption decree. Therefore, the error was not due to Immigration but rather due to the incorrect translation done by the agency. Consequently, we need to go to the courthouse, have her name legally changed from Katherine to Kathryn, and mail that document along with form N-565, the original Certificate of Citizenship, and a check for $380 to get a new certificate. Since we didn't do anything wrong, we don't want to pay the fee. We explained all this to our agency and asked for them to reimburse us for the fee. After a week of them researching this matter, our agency declared that the name for the Certificate of Citizenship should not come from the adoption decree but from the Visa application, which is filled out by the parents (and has the correct spelling) pursuant to statute blah, blah, blah. So the agency's stance is that Immigration was at fault and needs to replace the certificate for free. Frankly, I don't really care who was at fault, but I have to put on my detective hat and go sleuthing through this mess to figure it all out. Katie needs to have her name spelled correctly everywhere, she needs a social security number, and I need to keep $380 in my bank account.

So today I called USCIS, and after I pushed all the necessary numbers on the phone to get to a live person (shockingly, none of the automated options quite suited my situation), I spoke with Andrea. She gave me the email address to the adoption officer at our local USCIS office and advised me to explain the situation along with my name, date of birth, country of birth, first pet's name, and my 6th grade locker combination. I should hear a response in 2-3 business days.

Meanwhile, we had Katie screened at our school district last Wednesday, and she qualified for the Early Childhood Center. Yea! She was average for motor skills, but her language and concepts were low enough for her to get in. Her language delay is for obvious reasons, and the concepts skills are language based. For example, to demonstrate that she understands the concept of "under," she was told to "put the block under the house." Well, she has to know what put, block, under, and house all mean in order to complete the task. I was actually impressed with all she could do after only being in our country for 2 months. As I was filling out all the enrollment information, I saw that her social security number was required. My heart sank, because at the rate the process is going it'll be spring before she gets it, and I really want her to start as soon as possible. She is so ready for school right now. I called the school and explained the situation, and they said that it wouldn't be a problem, they won't keep her out, and I can just give them that number once I know it. Once again, yea!

So the saga continues as I wait to hear from the adoption officer at the USCIS office.

I know I'm doing a terrible job with posting pictures, but that's because I'm doing a terrible job with taking the pictures. I promise that I will take some pictures soon and I'll post them. However, at the rate I'm going, they're just going to be their Halloween pictures. As a teaser, let me just tell you that they are Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook, and you've never seen a cuter group from Neverland!

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