May 28, 2008Honorable Sir/Madam:
We are writing to you seeking urgent help. We are in Latvia to finalize the legal adoption of a family member, a five year old girl, who was orphaned and we have now run into a stonewall from United States immigration. The U.S. embassy here in Riga has not been able to help.
As the situation now stands we are unable to return to the United States with our daughter; the embassy even suggested we leave her here!
This is unacceptable.
Two years ago when we found out that Kristina was orphaned; we made an application with the Latvian Ministry of Child Welfare to adopt the child as there were no relatives in Latvia willing or able to take her in. At the same time we contacted USCIS to ask what the process would be to bring her to the United States once the adoption was finalized in Latvia. We were told that because it was a relative child we should file an I-600 visa application that we were directed to download from the internet. Over the next year and a half we completed obtaining the documents required for the I-600 including a home study by a licensed social worker in New York State, a criminal background check, letters of reference, birth and marriage certificates and other required documents. We have all of these in our file.
In January, 2008 our attorney in Riga, Latvia notified us that the Latvian Ministry of Child Welfare had approved us as adoptive parents to Kristina. We contacted USCIS again and asked them when we should file the I-600 form. The USCIS officer asked if we had the court documents from Latvia or a birth certificate for Kristina; we did not as they would not be available until we came to Latvia to finalize the Latvian court process. We were told to bring the I-600 along with our other documents and file them with the embassy in Latvia when we came here to reside for the required one month period.
Two days before we left the United States on May 21, 2008 we again contacted USCIS to verify that we had all of the required documents and were there any others we should bring with us. The USCIS officer acknowledged we had done all that was necessary and promised to call us back if any additional information was needed. No one called and we left the U.S.
To our shock and amazement when we went to the U.S. Embassy in Riga on May 23, 2008 we were told that "oh, the law changed on April 1 and you now have to file an I-800A and I-800". We inquired how we could do this and were told that we had to return to the United States to file this form. Our adopted daughter is now living with us -- we asked what we should do about her -- the answer -- "she's not a U.S. citizen and we can't help her, that's your problem".
Are you kidding me? What are we supposed to do with this child -- leave her on the street?, abandon her once again to an orphanage? And how long exactly is this new form going to take to file? What are we supposed to do in the meantime?
We are here with our daughter Maize who is 10 years old and Maize's grandmother, Milda Betins, who is 88 years old -- what about them? This is an outrageous situation -- we did everything we were told to do by USCIS and have diligently followed their directions as they were conveyed to us.
No matter what we do it now appears one of our daughters will be left without a parent soon. Does any of this represent the best interests of children or of families? Milda Betins is also elderly and needs to go home -- she only came here to see the finalization of the adoption of her sister's great grand daughter -- imagine her shock at the reception this child has so far received from the United States.
Laurence Earner Ilze Earner, Ph.D.
701 Greenwood Avenue 701 Greenwood AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11218 Brooklyn, NY 11218 718-871-5975 -- H 718-871-5875 347-432-0715 -- C
Zala iela 2