Patrick and I survived the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today. In order to bring our child home, we have to apply to USCIS to bring a foreign-born orphan into the US. Part of the application process is to have our fingerprints taken at a Department of Homeland Security-designated site called an Application Support Center. We’ve renamed the Application Support Center the Dungeon of Terror.
We were assigned a certain date and time to go to the Dungeon of Terror for our fingerprints. Today at noon was our time. I assumed August 20th at 12 noon was designated for just Patrick and me. This was my first mistake – how naïve.
Patrick arrived first and called me at 11:30 am to alert me to the long line of people standing outside of the building, waiting for their fingerprints. The building was not open and there must have been 30 people in front of Patrick in line. What were all those people doing there for our appointment?
Always thinking with my stomach, I told Patrick I thought it might be a long afternoon and that I would go to Wendy’s to pick up lunch for us so that we can eat while we wait in line. Another rookie mistake. Here is a picture of Pat in line – we’re the only fools with food.
Just as I arrived with lunch, the front doors to the building open and that is when the verbal lashings began. A security guard, who clearly deals with hooligans such as ourselves and everyone else in line day in and day out, began barking orders.
“TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES”
“GET OUT YOUR ID”
“GET RID OF THAT FOOD”
“12 O’CLOCK APPOINTMENTS ONLY”
Patrick and I are authority-respecting folks so we were slightly flustered with all of the yelling. We were quite a sight….We quickly wrapped up our food, desperately looking for a place to discard it – I think Patrick actually threw his chicken wrap at me. Which of course made me drop my cell phone. While we were cleaning up our mess, I noticed people in line were passing us, so I physically pushed Patrick back into line while I ran our food back to my car in the parking lot. And that was just entering the building.
Once we entered the building, the punishment continued. Patrick and I were reprimanded for not sitting when told to sit. At least a dozen cell phone offenders were berated. One woman put her heel on the seat of her chair and was scolded. People broke line rules. The employees at the Application Support Center/Dungeon of Terror would make fantastic preschool teachers…especially the Pit Boss.
The Pit Boss was a small man that was monitoring all of us for devious behavior and disorderly conduct. He walked around the room, eyeing all of us. Every now and then he would disappear in the staff room. But it seemed as though his primary job was to maintain order.
After about 45 minutes in the waiting room, our number was called and Patrick and I successfully received our fingerprints. Famished and emotionally drained, we left the Dungeon of Terror sadly knowing that throughout our adoption process, this would not be our last visit.