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Saturday, December 18, 2010

RFE Submitted

Today I mailed my RFE to New Delhi.

It has been very stressful living in Kathmandu to say the least.  The constant noise, pollution, traffic, filth and overpopulation take a toll on my body and spirit.  On top of it all, Pukar was diagnosed with rickets, after a misdiagnosis early on in my time here.  But I am hopeful that my very thorough investigation efforts will be enough to show that he is indeed an orphan.  The circumstances here surrounding abandonment are harrowing, and beyond what our Western minds can understand.  A complex web of caste, religion, poverty and sexism come into play in a war torn country that seems to be hanging on be a thread.

This was written by someone who has been here in Nepal working closely with the local population and in fact, was the only Peace Corps Volunteer to stay in country during the Maoist insurgency.  In his words:  "In my more than seven years of work at the grass-roots level focusing upon human trafficking, prostitution, women’s rights, and youth issues I have never once come across even a hint of human trafficking relating to the orphanages and to adoptions. If the US Embassy has information in relation to this they have a responsibility to share that information with the numerous organizations and professionals in Nepal that work on human trafficking. The very fact that they have not shared any information is in fact a very telling statement to consider."  Indeed, DOS has admitted after completing all our investigations that NO EVIDENCE of fraud was found.

Aside from the hard times, my beautiful boy is thriving.  His bright smile and happy, sweet heart lights up every day.  I am very blessed.

Meanwhile, the same day I mailed my RFE, my friends at home threw me a Benefit Concert!  To see more click here:  Let Your Love Shine Benefit Concert for Jenni & Pukar.

Friday, November 5, 2010

RFE Request for Further Evidence

Received an RFE from USCIS in New Delhi, Nov 3, 2010.  This means I need a lawyer and will now have to produce my own evidence proving that my child is indeed an orphan.  I have 87 days to respond.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today I was notified that my file was not approved at the US Embassy in Kathmandu.  They stated that they were not able to 'corroborate' the 'documents supporting eligibility' (of my child).  That means my file will be sent to USCIS in New Delhi for further review.  I must now hire a lawyer. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Story Goes Like This

I received my referral for Pukar on July 2, 2010.  For many months I had been hearing that the adoptions in Nepal were stalled for one reason or another and had been told that I should switch countries.  I only wanted to adopt from Nepal, and because the process had taken such a long time, my heart wasn't into changing countries.  I had given up hope and thought that it wasn't meant to be.  Then out of the blue, I got the news that I had received a referral for a 2 1/2 year old boy named Pukar, meaning 'something you ask God for' or 'Prayer'.

After accepting my referral the next step was to wait for the Nepalese Govt. to issue a Travel Approval known as a TA in the international adoption world.  I got my TA on July 27th, but did not hear that I received it until August 5th.  The next day, Aug. 6th,  the US Govt. announced they were suspending adoptions in Nepal.  The next thing they told us was they would still honor the 80 families who had been matched with children, and we were now in what they call "The Pipeline". 

We were told NOT to travel to Nepal and were to wait for the US Govt. to tell us what was to happen next.  Nothing came until August 26th when they announced that we could file our I600 petition from the USA.  The I600 petition starts the 'investigation' process of the adoption to determine whether or not the child is truly an orphan.  Prior to Aug. 6th, you had to travel to Nepal within the 60 days given from the date on your TA, and file from Nepal.  The investigation phase then took 2-3 weeks and you could go home with your child.  We were told we would be held to the same investigation standards, so we thought we had nothing to worry about.

I filed immediately as it was a first come, first serve basis.  Since the US Embassy was giving priority to families who had  received their TA, I figured I was near the front of the line.  As of my meeting Oct. 1, with the Embassy, I was told my investigation would possibly be starting next week.

We were also told the the Nepalese Government was giving verbal extensions to those families who's TA's were expiring.  In my case, two months from July 27th was Sept. 27th.  If I let my TA expire, and it turns out the verbal extension was not happening, I could risk losing my child, and then this would all be over. I waited and trusted the system.

Over the next month I waded through the mire of incomplete information, trying to understand what to do, who to believe and how to act.  It seemed the most effective thing to do was to contact our Representatives and Senators and push for a speedy investigation and resolution from Washington D.C.  Meanwhile the families who were being investigated were not being approved but instead sent to the US Embassy in New Delhi for further investigating.  This means it is now a problem for Homeland Security, USCIS.  So much for being held to the same standards of prior to Aug 6th.  Not only were cases not being approved, but the investigations were taking 5-9 weeks or longer. 

Meanwhile, back in the States, it  became clear that the verbal extension for TA's from the Nepali Ministry wasn't holding much water and once the State Dept issued a letter saying as much, I was on a plane within 5 days.  I arrived 3 days before my expiration and was granted a small extension because I had arrived within the time limit.  It appears that an extension may or may not be granted on a case by case basis.  I was SO THANKFUL I came. 

On the ground in Kathmandu it was so obvious that these children needed homes and that this whole mess was a real shame.   Nepal is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world and these kids don't have any kind of future.  Without a family or an education there is no hope for them to do much of anything with their lives except pick up trash or worse, be sold into prostitution across borders.  It's sad and bleak and would break your heart of you were here.  The poverty is shocking, and I've seen a lot.

I visited the orphanage every day, and each day began bonding more and more with Pukar.  They had been telling him his mommy would be coming to pick him up someday and we would fly home together on an airplane.   I started to realize that it would be really hard on him, and on our bonding and attachment, if I were to suddenly leave after being here every day.   There was no way for him to comprehend the complexity of why his mommy would come and then not come again for months.   I also didn't think I could go home and leave him here.  I was too in love.   After about a week, I made the decision to stay here and wait out this whole process.

It doesn't make sense anywhere but in my heart.  It's not financially feasible,  it is hard on my business partner,  on my boyfriend and his kids, and on me.  Living in Nepal is no picnic, especially with a child.  This blog is a way to be able to stay here with Pukar.  

Please don't feel obligated, but if you are touched in any way by my plight, and wish to help, simply click the donate button and offer anything.  I am extremely grateful for any and all help I receive.  I hope this will all be over within about 3 months and I will be able to return home with my beautiful boy and introduce each and every one of you to an amazing, very brave and special little soul named Pukar Makani Lund.  Makani is Hawaiian for Wind, thus, Prayer on the Wind.  He will touch your heart I'm sure.

To view an amazing slideshow of Pukar and Nepal made by my dear friend Joy click on:  Nepal: Never End Peace And Love 
or see my own slideshow in: Boudha to Pashputinath