Remember when I alluded to last minute drama regarding our ability to secure Elian’s visa in time to leave Bogotá together? Yeah, that was a fun time. And now I’m going to tell you all about it…
While we were in Colombia things went unnaturally well. We got Sentencia 8 business days after we requested it which is CRAZY amazing. We even got his birth certificate the same day we got Sentencia thanks to our lawyer’s savvy connections.This gave us 5 days to get his visa. It only takes two. We were more than golden! We were home free! I couldn’t eat anything but saltines but I was over the moon. We were on our way home! And then we weren’t.
What we needed was just one thing. A document from Colombian social welfare that says and I quote “These people adopted this child.” Never mind the birth certificate with our names or the Court Decree saying the same things. The stupid Hague convention requires this document.
But no big deal? Colombian Social Services is on it! They always turn around things super fast. We ‘ll get the doc and then we go to the Embassy and the next day visa. Bada-bing. Bada-boom! Easy Peasy. Except this is us, so of course something went wrong. Actually many things went wrong. Shall I tell you about them?
Monday: We leave the document to be signed.
Tuesday: The computer breaks down. No big deal. They’ll do it the next day.
Wednesday: The ONLY person internationally authorized to sign the paper QUITS HER JOB over some policy disagreement and LEAVES social services. We are now officially screwed. Elian and I simultaneously throw tantrums at a Bogotá Shopping Mall.
Wednesday Night: My stomach ailment mysteriously returns. I ponder what it will be like to spend a week in Bogotá by myself with Elian and then take a 13 hour flight home with him. I think the cold sweat is a bad sign.
Thursday Morning: Nauseous and depressed I return to my all saltines diet while I wait to find out what’s going to happen. I know if we don’t have that document by 11 the embassy won’t let us in and we’ll have no chance of getting the visa until next week. I look and my baby boy and pep talk myself. This is a blessing, a special time to spend together… but I don’t believe it. I know it would’ve been horrible.
Thursday Morning: Our facilitator calls and says “Get thee to Social Services we are going to track down the head of the dept and get her to sign.” I was like, what? The head of “Social Services” is kind of the equivalent of trying to track down a member of Obama’s cabinet. Not easy. When we arrived they said “Oh she’ll be here any minute, she’s at Casa Narino. Yeah, Casa Narino is the Colombian white house. Okay then. ”At least she’s not actually with the president!” they add trying to cheer me up.
Thursday Morning 10:30: Our facilitator starts visibly getting nervous. Not a good sign as she is a cool cucumber. She looks at me and makes a decision “We are going to the embassy with Elian. We will beg the embassy to start processing the visa with the promise that the document is coming. Arnold is going to stay here and get the signature.” People at social services are fluttering around in a tizzy about our situation. Alright then, off we go. I’m officially scared. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen our facilitator walk quickly.
Thursday Morning: 10:55: We get into the embassy with 5 minutes to spare. There are big weird gates that open and close. They make a sound very similar to Lostzilla. We’re there for a few hours. They provisionally accept our application. I try not to throw myself against the service window and faux hug the consul. My appetite begins to return.
1:30 -No sign of Arnold. I’m wondering where the hell he is because cell phones are not allowed in the Embassy. Nor are ipods. Nor are cameras(thus this all text post) It makes the hours you spend there freezing outside like cattle all the more entertaining.
2:00 – We return to Social Services after promising to bring back the document later that afternoon. We arrive to find Arnold in a hysterical fury. Social Services neglected to put my name on the document. And Ms. Cabinet Member has gone into another meeting while the document is being re-written correctly. Arnold has spent the last four hours wandering the hallways with the plan of launching himself on her if she accidentally steps in to the hall. All of social services is eyeing him suspiciously.
3:00 pm -Arnold tells me he is going to throw Elian at Ms. Cabinet Member and grovel at her feet if he sees her. I plan my “begging for mercy” speech to use at the Embassy. And then our last minute miracle occurs and they FINALLY appear with the document. I try not to scream with joy. I am hysterical but not lacking in dignity!
3:30 pm – We turn in the document and finally eat for the first time today.
FRIDAY -We pick up Elian’s visa 8 hours before our flight is scheduled to leave. I’m not ashamed to say that I wept there in the Embassy when they handed it to me. And when I mean I wept, I don’t mean a little, I mean A LOT. I may have imagined it but Bogotá suddenly seems to me the most beautiful it’s ever been. Pristine clear skies. I feel like Amelie after she gives the box back to Dominique Brodetau. Everything is WONDERFUL!
And that my friends is how spend our last two days in Bogota.