Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Update: We are back.

The kids and I are here.... back in the states.
We have been here for 2 weeks.
We have been busy adjusting and working on more immigration paperwork.
We miss Marco and his family so much.

But it is good to be here with the kids.
Maria's skin healing from all the mosquito bites she had.
Cooper is in love with the carpet all over again.
(he loves to lay down on it and pretend to go to sleep)
They have both adjusted well to being buckled into car seats.
They love going up and down the stairs, going outside, swings, oh boy do they love swings.
They love my parents hot tub (Maria is a little afraid of wandering even though she can easily touch the bottom anywhere, and Cooper has no fear even though he can't touch bottom in all of the chairs.)

I am doing ok.  I am trying to be strong.  I am not crying as much as I would like, the kids don't need a weepy mother.  I miss Marco..... it sucks being away from him.... it sucks even more not knowing how long this time will last.  I'm trying to keep us busy so there is no time to wallow in self pity.  
Marco misses us too.... he calls 2-3 times a day.  It's cute to see the kids talk to him.  I'll give them each a wireless phone (at the same time) and they will walk around having 3-way conversations with Daddy.  

Maria will turn 3 on September 1st.  I kept thinking that today was August 31st.  When she went to bed this evening she wanted me to cuddle her, which I gladly did.  As she was lying there eyes closed looking very peaceful I got a little sad.  My little angel is growing up so fast.  She doesn't want to hold my hand all the time anymore, although she does wants me to "feed [her] like a baby".  Later this evening when I discovered that today is only August 30th I was excited.... a little present for me, one more day with my two year old.  One more night to cuddle her to sleep, one more day to tell my 2 year old not to hit her brother, one more day of 2 year old adventures.... and then we'll be on to the three's, which will also be good and a wonderful adventure, but I sure am going to miss that little two year old.

Things I want to remember:
The kids singing "sweet Caroline, babumbumbum" in the car today.
Maria, when asked if she was going to sleep in the car, "No, I'm just keeping the sunshine from my eyes."
Cooper running over to my Dad after he woke up from a nap and wrapping his arms around my Dad's leg and then falling to the floor and pretending to go ni-night.
Maria starting to really like dogs (and actually petting one).
Cooper climbing up on EVERYTHING!!
Sweet hugs and kisses.
Maria telling me that she is sad and needs to have hugs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life goes on....

I am sorry that I haven't posted much lately.  Things have been..... interesting around here.  We have made some HUGE decisions in the past few weeks. 

There are a couple of new posts today..... they explain a huge part of our life, and the big decision that has been made.

Life is hard, good, but hard.  We have been blessed.

I wish that I could have had more energy to blog and document little things in our lives that make us happy.... like:

-the group of Honduran Hippies that stopped outside our door to play music one market day.
-Abuelo building a fence to keep the turkey from eating all the pretty plants in the garden.
-how the garden is now growing SO much
-Maria saying that she wants to go for a ride in bapa's hummer to the store (Haggens) and get cookies and a balloon.
-Cooper's laugh and learning how to say belly button.
-Marco giving the kids horse rides in the living room.
-Abuela teaching me so much about making clothes.... pants/shorts, dresses, shirts, bloomers......etc, she is amazing.
-a wedding, Marco's friend got married and we were able to attend... so nice.

Maybe one day I'll get around to posting about things in more detail, but not today.....

I've got to play with my kids and spend some quality time with my hubby.

Immigration Story

Cooper has now lived more of his life in Honduras than he has in the United States.  I never thought that we would be here this long (we are in our 9th month). 
We have been trying to get Canadian immigration papers.  We heard from multiple sources that in our situation Canada would take less time.  Since we just want to be together as a family that's the way we went.
Our journey in the endeavor has been.... interesting.  We submitted our application to Canada shortly after Maria was born.  It was going to be processed in the United States because that is the country in which Marco was currently residing.
But a few "interactions" and a year later, they told us that they could not process the application and had to forward Marco's application to the embassy responsible for the country of his citizenship.
So they sent our application off to Guatemala.  Another year passed.  In the meantime we are waiting for ANY news, on the website it says that if you contact them regarding your application status it could delay the process, so we respected that. 
We contacted them after Cooper as born to let them know of the addition to our family.  Then last fall we moved here to Honduras and we let them know our change of address.  The processing time for an application processed in Guatemala was 18 months, this spring it changed to 17 months....
So, doing the math of when Guatemala started processing our application, our application should have been done May 21, 2011.  When the kids and I got back from our month long visit to the states and Canada we inquired into our status.
No response.  They clearly state on the website that they have 28 working days to respond to inquiries.... and that they might not respond at all, which is super frustrating.
And if you try to call... they don't answer the phones.  So it seems like there is no way to get their attention, no way to talk to someone, anyone. 
We sent another email to check into the status of our case.... again nothing.
Frustration is a huge part of our lives.... waiting and waiting.  We want our lives to be able to begin.  We feel like we are waiting in this limbo place where progression can't occur.  It's quite a horrible feeling.
So, one of Marco's sisters did a little digging in Tegucigalpa and got a hold of the fax number to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala.  The Consulate in Tegucigalpa said that fax was probably the best way to get ahold of the embassy. (Thank you Karla!!)
My parents sent a fax on behalf of us.  Still no response.  Still very frustrated.
A second fax is sent.

The kids are sick, they can't play outside because of the dust (which makes them sick), and mosquitoes (they think Maria's tastes oh-so-good, and there is a risk of Dengue), and heat.... so we spend the majority of our time inside here, or over at Abuela's house.  But our place is less than 1000 square feet.... probably closer to 500 than 1000, so there is only so much running around that can be done. 
The kids actually do pretty good for what they've got.
People here are NOT geared towards providing entertainment for their kids.  Parks, libraries, children's programs do not exist here.  For the most part the kids here in Honduras do fine, but a lot of them still want something more.
Cooper does pretty good, but Maria knows what a park is, and she loves story time at the library.

So, with the kids getting sick, the lack of children's activities, the frustration with lack of information in the immigration department..... a whole lot of discussion, tears, & prayers.... Marco and I decided that the best and right next move for us would be for the kids and I to go back to the states until these immigration things are taken care of and Marco will be able to join us once again.

This is something we NEVER wanted to happen.  We never wanted to be separated.  We never wanted the kids have to spend time away from their Dad.  This is the hardest decision we have ever had to make.  We do NOT look forward to the time we will be spending apart.

Now this is where things start to get a little more interesting.....
The decision is made for the kids and I to go back to the States.

Hours later we receive an email from Canada.  They are responding to the fax that they received inquiring to the status of our case.  They inform us that they are waiting on information from us.  That they sent a letter requesting more information from us May 10th 2010.  2010!!  Yeah, we NEVER received that letter.
Holy cow.  UPSET.  We kept on top of things, updating them when something in our lives changed, respecting the whole -not inquiring into our case so as not to delay or processing times- thing.  And trying to follow their rules about making inquiries. *frustrated sigh*

So that new information brews for a few hours... and we receive a phone call....
My parents call.  They made one more phone call to a friend who works at the border..... hope.  Another answer, a different possibility, things we didn't know before.
While we won't be writing off Canada, we have another avenue to explore, one that could potentially take less time process and reunite us sooner.

A letter to a friend.

For those of you who don't know, Marco USED to be an illegal immigrant. 

This is an email I sent to a friend of mine who was dating an illegal immigrant.  She wanted to know a little about the realities.  I have edited it just a little bit to take out her personal information and also to clarify a few points.

Immigration law is the second most compicated law in the US (tax law is the first). Every case is different, and it seems like there are three different answers to every question. Is he a member (of the LDS church)? Did he serve a mission? If he is, and he did, then those things could help? How did he enter the country? Has he ever had any immigration hearings/proceedings?
Getting married is NO guarantee that he will receive permanent residency.
It seems like it all depends on the decisions that he's made in the past. (Marco missed an immigration hearing thereby making it pretty much impossible for us.) I know of a few other couples who have fought the system and after a LONG time (10ish years) they are finally getting papers.
For us, to get papers in the US we HAVE to leave the country. According the lawyers & immigration officers we've talked to (which is a rather long list) it looks like we'd have to be out of the country for between 3 & 10 years before Marco can re-enter.

We haven't yet applied for anything in the US. I was really hoping that some new legislation would pass and make it a litte more simple for Marco to obtain papers (afterall he is legitamitally married and has two kids), but no such luck.
My parents know a few lawyers and a bunch of immigration officers (thanks to living super close to a border), that's one reason we moved to Washington, we were hoping to get a lot of help and easy answers....
We lived in my parents "basement" for 2 1/2 years with no progress.  We have applied for Canadian papers for Marco (I was born in Canada and we have heard that Canadian papers are easier/quicker to get)and HOPE & PRAY that they come thru in the next 4 months.

I HOPE that your situation is easier. It's hard. I love Marco and I love our family.... I wouldn't trade it for anything..... but it's NOT an easy life. It seems like we can NEVER get ahead. There never seems to be enough money. Marco couldn't just go out and get a job... it's a complicated web that we have to tread on carefully... you never know if you're talking to someone who could/would turn your spouse in.
You love the domestic life, but you might not be able to have it, you might have to work. We thought numerous times about Marco staying home with the kids and me going out and getting a job (because I could) but Marco doesn't have the patience to deal with crying kids. We also thought about me working at nights as a nurses aide working into a nursing position... but then I'd want to watch the kids during the day too, and I'd just be WAY too tired.

I hope this doesn't sound too discouraging... If you can make it work, it's TOTALLY worth it. Maybe you guys don't have the issues that we have.... maybe you could go and live in Mexico for a while.

I don't know if this information helps... I hope it does. If you have any more questions I will try my best to answer them.
I am SO glad that you are happy and in love.... I hope for the best for you.