Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's in a Name?

The last week has been one full of trials and challenges.  On Thursday, we received our long awaited GUZ# from the National Visa Center.  We could now complete the DS260(visa application) online.  Right?  Wrong.  Immediately upon opening the e-mail containing our GUZ# I realized that our daughter's name was not listed correctly.  After getting in touch with our agency about it, we quickly realized that what I thought would be a non-issue was about to become a really important, all consuming problem.

We began by making some simple telephone calls to the visa center.  The NVC is open until midnight each night and our work on this issue started very late into the night on Thursday.  I spoke to someone, got no where, and was transferred to a supervisor.  It really seemed like such a simple thing to fix.  All her names were there, spelled correctly, but listed in the wrong order.  After my conversation on Thursday night I really thought the matter was corrected and awaited an e-mail confirming the resolution from that supervisor.

On Friday, no e-mail came, so we began calling again to inquire.  Calling isn't a simple process.  It is an automated system, you speak to someone new each time you call in, and you wait on hold a really, really long time (we're talking hold times up to an hour at a time), there is not a voice mail system, and if you want to talk to a supervisor and none are available at the moment you call, you cannot go back on hold.  You have to hang up and start the whole process over again.  At this point it was late at night and my emotions were running very high.  We'd made several calls and no one was helping us, no one was calling us back as they said they would, no supervisors were available, we were told things like "Oh, just fix it when you get to China" and "well, this is your problem" and "you are welcome to call back and inquire again for a supervisor to help you."  Honestly, things got rather rude on both ends of the telephone.  I completely lost my self control on someone Friday night, for which I am completely repentant.  If I knew his name I would call back and apologize.  Late Friday night we pulled our agency into the situation and requested support.  They were very quick to jump right into the deep end and get their hands dirty in this mess right alongside us.  The director of the China program actually stayed up until midnight on Friday night with us, making calls.  We always really respected and liked our agency, but this past week really brought them up another level for us.  While she wasn't able to get through on Friday night for us, just knowing we weren't calling alone made a world of difference for us!  Still no resolution on Friday.

The NVC isn't open on the weekend so we had all day Saturday and Sunday to chew on it and gather up any additional thoughts and information we think might help us to get this situation resolved quickly.  I am determined to have it resolved by Monday.

Monday morning and I went to work trying to call immediately at 7AM when they opened.  Our social worker along with the China director also were in touch with me.  By 8:30AM I was completely unable to get through....busy signals constantly.  I couldn't even be put on hold!  I contacted our agency and asked for help.  I needed to teach school and have three kids here who needed my attention.  I simply couldn't fight the NVC battle all day long.  They jumped right in and started calling.  Our social worker was able to get through around 10:30 in the morning.  She was advised that all name corrections had to be submitted via e-mail.  Interesting.  No one had told us that yet.  She was given a different email address than what I'd used to get our GUZ#, so we tried it.  And waited.  And waited.  We are still waiting to get a reply from the address that we sent that inquiry to.  Late in the day there was still no response, so our social worker advised we had best continue to try calling.  I tried a myriad of times at various times throughout the day and never got past the busy signal.  I began to think they'd blocked my phone number!  Ha!  Chris began trying to call when he got home from work and he also was not able to get past the busy signal.  I began to feel very defeated.  How could we fix this if no one would respond to e-mail and we couldn't get through on the phone?!  I really wanted to just give up.  Our agency China director stayed up with us again on Monday night calling until midnight.  Did I mention how much we love her?  As a last ditch effort I sent a second e-mail to the address I'd used to get the GUZ#, even though it was not the one we were advised to use.  I figured it couldn't hurt anything.

Tuesday morning I woke up with fresh resolve and pleaded with God to provide us with someone who could help us.  I spent about an hour hitting busy signals, but finally got through the line around 8AM and sat on hold only about thirty minutes.  A new record!  A friendly voice answered and her name was Sandy.  I got way more information from her than I'd ever gotten, though it was still not fixed.  She was actually kind and listened to me!  She saw where I'd worked with someone named Sylvia the week prior.  I remembered Sylvia and she was really very nice and seemed on top of things.  I knew she'd be familiar with the situation and I knew she'd call me back (because she had called me back once prior).  I left her a message, just praying.  Within about 15 minutes she called me back.  Immediately she recalled our case and quickly identified what was wrong and how to fix it.  While on the phone with her, an e-mail popped up from a wonderful woman named Mary.  She was responding to my e-mail.  The e-mail I'd sent as a last effort to the address I happened to have--not the one given to us by the employee at the NVC.  She also knew exactly what was wrong and how to fix it.  Together, Mary and Sylvia got to work and had the issue resolved within a matter of hours.  Mary immediately e-mailed me the great news and that is all I really expected.  I was floored to then later also receive a personal follow up call from Sylvia informing me that it was resolved.  They both told me they love adoptive families and really try to take care of them.  Praise God for people like Mary and Sylvia!  I was so touched by their help after this long trial that I actually sent a huge e-mail to their supervisors informing them of the impressive amount of work they did for us after so many others refused to help us or even try.  They let me know today that they were both publicly recognized for that effort and I am glad they were.  They deserved it.

This was a trying experience.  It tested our patience and resolve.  It forced me to not use flowery filler language and just be totally direct and to the point about what I needed.  In the grand scheme of things it was a small blip on the journey to get Hannah, but I assure you, in the heat of those four days of working to resolve it, it felt much, much bigger.

So, today, we rest assured, our daughter's name is correct on her visa application.

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