Dear Sam and Sophie,
That's U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, what what used to be called the INS. Those of us who are adopting internationally are very familiar with USCIS, and the dreaded I-171H form, which is usually the last piece of paperwork you need for your dossier. To get the I-171H, all you have to do is fill out Form 1-660A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, send it in with copies of your birth certificate, marriage license, home study, and then wait for an appointment to go down to their special fingerprinting place (No, it doesn't matter that you've already been fingerprinted by the local police and for DCFS.)
We, of course, already have our I-171H form, but it needs to be transferred from China to Vietnam. Luckily (ha!) they only charge $200 for that. (The first time around it's almost $545 plus almost $200 for fingerprinting.) We are not bothered by the $200, since it was almost guaranteed that we would have to completely redo our I-171H anyway, since it's only good for 18 months, and the wait for China is approaching that. (Despite many attempts to lobby the federal government, they have so far refused to make that document "last" longer. A huge hassle for people adopting from China.)
Anyway, today I mailed off the form to transfer our I-171H from China to Vietnam. But first I spoke to a really nice man at USCIS's customer service, who suggested I attach a letter with your Dad's information (since I am the main petitioner) and also explain how we have different last names. Just to be sure he advsised me to attach copies of our birth certificates and marriage license. He was very nice but pointed out to me that women who do not take their husband's names make it very difficult for those who process paperwork. Mmmmm. It was so much easier when the property ownership of women by men was obvious! (Feminist rant concluded).
Of course, after I got that all overnighted (thanks, in no part, to a lame woman at the Lawrence Post Office; it's the worst!) I read on a listserv that they also want a copy of the new home study, which we don't have yet. Sigh. If that's true, I suppose I'll be hearing from them. Since this is one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the dossier (aside from the home study), it'll be good to have it done.