Monday, June 04, 2007

Where were YOU 4 years ago today?

Thinking back at where we were at this time 4 years ago brings back so many feelings...happiness and excitement, depression and sadness, joy and pain. On April 11, 2003 we had called an made an appt at the immigration office in Haiti. We were to be there in the afternoon of April 15, 2003. The only thing left to do was to pick up our papers from Immigration (they were already signed) and take them to the consulate for our visa. The process should of taken about 2 days. When we arrived in Haiti we discovered that in just those few days, the immigration officer had been replaced and the new one would not honor our appointment. We were supposed to leave Haiti just 3 days later. We ended up exhausting all of our resources to try and stay and extra week. Kyle used all his vacation time at work, we had dwindled our savings, and worst of all, we had been expecting to bring thje kids home and it was looking more and more like we were going to leave them there. The immigration officer was so cruel and unkind. He did not know what he was doing and egan to request all sorts of documents that were not required, interviews that were not required (he had Christiana in the office in TEARS several times). Upon returning to the states after handing my children back over to Haitians (if you have never been through this you need to know that out of everything I had been through in my life this was and still is the most painful memory as I didnt even know when I would see my children again) We contacted our Senator Evan Bayh. Here is a copy of the letter we sent:

Dear Senator Bayh,

We are Kyle and Angela Caswell and we are in the process of adopting two chidlren from Haiti. We ahev completed the Haitian adoption process (been through the courts system and have had the children legally declared as "ours")> We have also completed our part of the INS process. We filed the I600 and received our approval, and we also filed the I600 on each one of the children (Sanite and Geno Pierre) and received the approval. All we needed was for the INS office in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti to hand over our forms so we could get the children's visas and bring them home. the total time for the process to bring them home should have taken less than 24 hours. I was notified on Friday April 11 the the INS office in Haiti did not have a copy of our approval forms. I called the INS office here in the states, the National Visa Registry, AND the office in Haiti. ALL three informed me that as long as I had the originals of my approvals we would be fine. When I spoke with the INS office in Haiti I explained to them that we had already made arrangements to arrive in Haiti to pick up our children on Tuesday April 15. The woman on the other end said "No problem! Bring your approval to the office as soon as you arrive and everything will be taken care of right there." Our flight arrived in Haiti at approx 10:30am. We called the INS office while we were waiting to pick up our luggage. When we called the INS office we were informed that the INS officer had left for Mexico and he would not return until Monday the 21st. No one in the office was able to hand over our papers because it had to be done by an official INS officer. We were supposed to leave Haiti on the 18Th; but instead we had to postpone our flight out of the country. We went back to the INS office on Monday the 21st only to find out that there was a new INS officer in office and he was refusing to do any work on adoptions that week. After this the INS officer decided that the approvals we had bee given before were not sufficient and decided to do his own investigation on our case. he asked to see the death certificate for our children's birth father. We brought in the death certificate and that was not good enough. We had to return to the region where the father had died and obtain a letter from the Judge stating that "yes he lived here and yes he died." When we returned to the office on Tuesday (as we had been instructed) an armed guard met us at the door and would not let us pass. We were instructed that we had to wait until the following Monday (the 28Th). So patiently we waiting until Monday the 28Th. ON the 28Th we were the 1st people there at 8:30 in the morning. The sign on the door says they begin at 9:00am. The doors however did not open until 11:00am when he decided to arrive. The place where we sat was a room about 10X10 (and there were about 30 people in this room), no fans, no water, and no restroom. When he finally did start allowing people in, we sat there until every single other person had been seen before us. When he called us back we were informed that the judges letter (on top of the death certificate) was not good enough to prove that the children's father was deceased. he said he then wanted to interview the birth mother again. It just so happened that the birth mother knew we were going to be at the office that day and was coming by to visit with the children. We took her in immediately for and interview (which by the way was her 3rd interview by the INS and only 2 are necessary). After the interview he said he needed to "think about it for a while" and to call back on Wednesday. Well sir, we were unable to stay any longer. By this time we had already been there 12 days longer than we had planned and the cost for us to stay was $100 per day. Finances no longer allowed for us to stay with our children, We left on that Wednesday only to find out later that he now wanted 3 friends of the deceased father to come in and interview and another interview with the birth mother. On Friday May 2ND, the birth mother was taken in for her 4Th interview. They waited in that small sweaty room from 8am until 2pm. During this time the birth mother was interviewed only to come out in tears. She was not interviewed, she was interrogated. At 2:00 they went to retrieve the "rejection notice." When asked why the notice took so long to prepare the Haitian secretary replied, "We had to wait for him to come into the office." Come to find out he was not even there when the birth mothers interview was conducted! The birth mother was interviewed and denied by the Haitian secretary. If I am correct the ONLY person qualified to make these decisions is the INS officer himself and NOT his secretary. From my understanding, what happened in that office was illegal and the secretary should be reprimanded for what she did!

The 3 friends of the birth father were brought in on Wednesday May 7Th. They then sat there all day not to be seen. They were told to return on Friday. The same thing happened. As it turns out the reason they were not seen was because the officer was not even IN. This seemed to happen ALOT while we were down there. They were told to return on Monday May 12Th and he promised to see the 3 men. They all returned on Monday only to be told he was once again not in the office.

Barbara Walker (our facilitator) once again went to the INS office on Wednesday the 14Th. This time however she was only able to bring down one of the men who just so happened to be the judge from the area the birth mother was from. Once again they were turned away. The secretary said she would not interview just him so he could turn around and tell the other 2 men what he said. She told Barbara to call back to following day.

Barbara Called on Thursday and the secretary said "Barbara I told you that I need a 3rd party birth certificate for the father!" Barbara replied with "I have brought it with me everyday!"

On Friday Barbara goes to the INS office AGAIN. She brings in the 3rd party birth certificate for the birth father and a new birth certificate for Geno that lists the name of the father. The secretary took the papers from Barbara, but then proceeded to tell her "just because I have the papers does not mean I will do the work." Barbara was told to came back ON the 28Th and the Haitian secretary would let her know what she has decided. This Haitian secretary has been in charge to run the INS office as she pleases. I doubt the INS officer had even seen our file but he is never there so we can't even ask.

Sir, we have been put through the wringer with this office. We were told to to their office on Tuesday April 15Th by THEIR office. We met our children, we had them with us from the time we arrived until the time we left. Sir the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life is to hand over my children and leave them in there in that country. Sir if there is anything you can do to help us, I beg of you. We miss our children dearly and they miss us too. They are now living in an orphanage when they should be home with us. While we were in Haiti we spoke with Katherine Sharp and the US consulate so if you need to speak with anyone that witnessed us there with the children she may be the one you want to speak with. I have enclosed copies of all of our approvals from the United States INS office. If there is anything else you would like a copy of please let us now and we will see what we can do about faxing it to you.

Thank you and God Bless,

Kyle and Angela Caswell

WOW! There is so much about that whole process that I had back to the question.....where were you 4 years ago today? I can answer that....4 years ago today I was in Indianapolis with Lori praying for a little Haitian girl who was getting ready to go in for surgery. While at the hospital Lori contacted Katharine Sharp at the US consulate in Haiti who said she would love to get me in for an apt for our visa the following day! I FLEW home from Indy, made flight arrangements, and left the Greater Cincinnati airport that night around 6:00pm. .....I flew from CVG to Chicago and stayed the night there.............anxiously awaiting the following day where I would wake up...and be reunited with my children..................

oh yes and..........


1 comment:

me said...

alright, you've got me bawling now ~ man, lots have happened since that day (4 years ago) PRAISE THE LORD!! ~ also, thanks so much for allowing us to be part of your family :) we love you guys!!