Request For Evidence Disaster

When my mom passed the citizenship test, and the officer told us that now we just need to collect the evidence that mom didn’t commit any crimes during these past five years, I thought that it would be easy and was internally celebrating.

It turned out that it was anything but easy. Although the paper from USCIS was more than a page long, it didn’t provide any specifics on where and how we should collect that evidence. The office told us that we should go to the “local police department,” and they will know what paper we need.

I called the Palatine police department Department of Records, and their supervisor told me that indeed, she knew what kind of paper I need, and I do not need an appointment, just come during business hours.

Assuming that it would be the same in Rogers Park, I asked Igor to take my mom there, and that turned into a total disaster. They told Igor that they are not doing background checks, and have a document to prove it, and that Igor and my mom should go to the headquarters. They didn’t want to listen or look at the paper Igor tried to show them.

After Igor called me, I called the Police station three times, trying to explain what we needed. Three people hung up on me. I decided to try to reach the headquarters. There was no information on their website, but I found a direct number to call central 311 and pleaded with the office on the other end not to hang up on me!

The office gave me the Department of Records phone number, which turned out to be the right place. Our local police station could not provide the document we needed, but for a different reason than they cited… and why in the world could they not give us the same phone number in the first place?!

Igor took mom to the headquarters because the phone number is nowhere on the internet, only to find out that they were open until 1 PM, and it was too late by that time.

The next day, mom and I went to Palatine, and it was again the same story (they didn’t know whether they could give this paper, and mom was not in their system (and that’s precisely what we needed). They suggested they “call me later,” and I said that we came from Chicago and I was not going anywhere.

Forty minutes later, we finally got the paper and went home.
Then, on Friday, Igor took my mom to the Police headquarters again, and this time, they issued the paper we needed.

I uploaded both documents for consideration, and I hope this will be enough evidence. (BTW, I tried to call the USCIS helpline when the police hung up on me, but they only have an automated service, no humans.

If this is indeed the end of it, I will be very happy, but I still plan to file a complaint!

Maybe Done With Beaurocracy

I could not imagine that obtaining “additional evidence” for mom’s citizenship case would be so dramatic! I didn’t blog about the recent development because it was a little bit more than I could handle, but today I could finally submit all of her documentation, and I sincerely hope that it will be enough! I guess we will be able to tell for sure next week.

I will blog about all the colorful details later, but for now – just this picture of the Lakefront chestnut blossoms for to celebrate!

More Family Stuff

Back to last week. Mom’s citizenship test was on Tuesday. I worked in the office for the remaining half-day and then took a train to meet Boris at ORD. On Wednesday, I worked from home, took mom to her physical therapy, taught a class online, and tried to cook as much as possible for the upcoming weekend.

I worked in the office on Thursday and then went with Boris and my neighbor to the CSO concert and to the Classic Encounter with Terri Hemmert before that. The program was amazing, although, to be 100% honest, I almost felt that it was too much with everything else I was doing. I planned this outing at least three months ago, and I thought that on Thursday, there would be no wedding-related activities. But then it turned out that Vlad planned something for close friends, and Anna wanted to go. I was trying to figure out how this could work, then Anna said that John would come and stay with the girls, and then at the end, it was that both John and Anna had work crises, and they decided to drive Friday morning (which was not a good idea having that it was a Memorial Day weekend).

Finally, they arrived, and John took me to the nursery to get the remaining plants for my balcony, and then Nadia, Anna, and I went to do nails, and in the evening, I babysat the girls.

Then, there was a family lunch at Acanto on Saturday, and then Boris and I took Nadia to the Field Museum and then brought her to the “Meet the Grooms,” where Vlad asked me why I do not socialize and do not mingle 🤷🏻‍♀️

On Sunday, we went for a long bike ride, and then I planted everything I had to plant, so the morning was rather quiet. And then there was a wedding which was very loud :). I think, however, that the major reason for me being so tired after these days is not that the music was loud or that I had a full house, but rather the fact that I had to meet a lot of Dylon’s relatives and they are very different family than us.

Oh, and also, somewhere in the middle of that, we completed a couple of house projects!

Two of Vlad’s High School friends spoke at the wedding, and I was happy that at least this speech was not glossy:)
And I found this picture from fifteen years ago!


I will post more pictures from the wedding. I am very-very-very tired, both emotionally and physically. And I am very happy for Vlad and Dylon.

The wedding was all about them, which is how it should be, but I was standing there in the crowd and recalling many past moments, starting from the image of this tiny thin baby body with match-like limbs. I with two five-year-olds, exiting the Immigration Office at ORD on October 23, 1996. Our endless conversations, and our conversation “about that.” And Vlad crying on my shoulder on the corner of State and Washington in broad daylight.

And when we returned home, I asked Boris (rhetorically, of course): how could it happen that we did everything wrong, and it turned out so perfect?! It’s scary even to think about how horrible things could turn if I won’t go to the US, fearless out of shire ignorance, having no idea what I am doing. All my decisions I was most criticized for, but especially these two: that I decided to have babies in the most inconvenient moment of my life, the life of my country and history in general, and that I decided to go to America and take my kids with me.

Not calculated, not thought-through, and completely irresponsible…

Mom Passed The Citizenship Test!

Today was the day! I took my mom to 101 W Ida Wells Drive, ad we passed through security which is more strict than in the airports. And I forgot about that and had to throw my scissors into the garbage (same as when I came for my citizenship test fifteen years ago!)

The security guard on the second floor was so helpful and reassuring – I can’t even describe it! Still, we waited for about twenty minutes past my mom’s interview time until we were finally called in.

Mom was very nervous and could not understand many of the questions when they were spoken (even though I was allowed to repeat them to her), but the officer was exceptionally patient and waited. At some point, when my mom said she would better understand it in writing, she printed the questions, and my mom could read them and reply.

It looks like most senior people apply for a medical exemption. I thought my mom would be upset if I asked her doctor for a note that she was unfit to take the test, but apparently, it’s not a big deal for most people.

Mom had to take a real test with randomly selected questions, and she had to answer correctly six questions out of ten, and she did nine, so I am very proud of her! It turned out she studied all the questions, not only the ones I’ve circled. I didn’t know the questions would be selected by a computer, not by a human!

Then she did reading and writing tests, which was easy for her, and then the officer asked her whether she was willing to take an oath of allegiance, and she forgot what the word oath meant. So the officer showed her a tablet with the oath, and she started to read it very slowly, and then for the second time. I was freaking out because that’s what I was freaking out about even earlier – it’s a pretty strong language, but she nodded approvingly to each of the statements since they all would end with “if required by the law.”

So, after all, she passed the test and signed everything, but the story is not over yet! Even though we tried twice, her fingerprints didn’t turn out legible, so now we need to obtain police clearance from all the places she lived (fortunately, only two!) But it looks like it has to be a real paper, and we need to go in person to get it, so I do not expect her to take the oath before August.

Still- it’s amazing!

Mother’s Day And Mom

I wanted to do something more interesting than having coffee together for Mother’s Day, so I got the tickets to CSO for Renee Fleming and Eugeny Kissin’s concert. At the beginning of the season, I booked several tickets for Sunday matinees to take mom, but I had to return half of them because of scheduling conflicts. When I saw that concert, I thought there was no way thee ae any decent tickets left, but to my surprise, I was able to get two tickets, if not in the first row, still pretty close to the stage. Then I thought that I was not even going to try to make any dinner reservations because it would be impossible to get anything for Mother’s Day. Again, to my surprise, Forte was wide open, so I got the reservation right after the concert.

Overall, things were good. Mom complained about all the usual stuff but within average :). Unfortunately, one more time, I tried to reason with her when she told me that “here” things are different, and “back at home,” they would always announce the performers and the pieces, and she would not take my reminders that it was always the case at the classical music concerts. I blamed myself for getting into the arguments, but overall, she enjoyed herself.

I have weekly sessions with a therapist now, and these sessions helped me to realize that whatever I am doing and how I am talking to mom won’t change the speed of her decline; it will take its own course. I know that when I start reasoning with her and call for logic, it never ends up good; it makes bother me and her upset. So I am trying not to contradict her and not to argue, just to let it go.

I think that if I learn to control myself most of the time, it will be better for both of us. It’s along the lines of me stopping trying to fix everything and let things be the way they are.

Today’s good news: I finally got in touch with a Russian-speaking case manager, and she gave me a lot of good advice and reassured me that we will be able to resolve all the things related to mom that I am struggling with right now. That was very encouraging and really elevated my spirits.

Now, both mom and I need to focus on her citizenship interview that is scheduled for next week. She is panicking that she might forget some answers or not understand some questions, and I am panicking that she might start Putin’s propaganda… We have a weekend to rehearse, and I need to find and print all her documents, and a copy of her application. Hopefully, all goes well!