Sitting in the IRS Office at 31 Hopkins Plaza in Baltimore, MD, I wait. I peruse the documents, the ID’s. My babies’ faces before they knew they were mine. Eyes wide, droopy, glassy with, I surmise, fear, malnutrition, hopelessness. I lay these African passport photos side by side with their U.S. Visa photos. (Passport Y0306009002 Visa KIN 201195900301) U.S. Visa photos from before my children met us, same big eyes, same fear, but perhaps, a little rounder faces. Our youngest sons have had better nutrition these last eight months.
I notice the numbers, the ever-increasing, never-ending numbers. I tire of the numbers.
Passport numbers times six–one for each family member. Visa numbers, permanent resident card numbers. A-file numbers, case number for ever call I’ve made to the IRS, the Social Security Administration, US Immigration and Naturalization, Department of Homeland Security, etc. Calls that represent forms like the 1040, the W-7, the 181-H, the I-600. The W-7 is the issue this day, here to apply for another number, the ITIN.
I am overwhelmed by the numbers. My husband and I began indie publishing last year. The numbers, ISBN, ASIN, Smashwords, CreateSpace ID’s, individual book ID’s, times 16 for fiction works and times 22 for nonfiction. There’s the publishing business numbers, EIN, new bank account, royalty tracking ID’s. What’s a DUNS number? I found out when I had to get one. Did I mention we’re co-founding a nonprofit? EIN, 501c, and every piece of paper federal and state has an application moniker, case #, final assigned ID. A quagmire of numbers threatens.
This day, though, the numbers are about the faces I examine as I wait. I carry U.S. ID’s taken only four months after we brought our youngest sons home. Eyes are slits, shoved together by round cheeks bulging above smiles that show every tooth. I sit in the Federal Building, tears brim.
The A-file, the W-7, the ITIN, the passport, the visa, the permanent resident card.
I love these numbers. These precious, precious numbers. They say, “This is my child. These are my boys. My babies.” A million numbers can never express my joy. My grateful heart.
Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for the numbers.