Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Police Clearances.

Two off the list.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another one in!

Mark's birth certificate arrived today!

It's really funny to me that nowadays, official-looking envelopes are greeted with more enthusiasm than a hand-written, personal envelope!

(Not to say that I don't appreciate personal mail, too-don't get me wrong! To those that sent them, thank you for all the birthday gift passport paid for)! :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not quite the birthday present...

Today (well, yesterday...I see it's after midnight now) was my birthday. And it was a delightful day all the way around, filled with fun times with those I hold dear.

I have just one disappointment from the day.

For months, I have had the goal of finishing our dossier by my birthday...the best gift I could think of. My birthday has now come and gone, and the dossier still sits unfinished.

I can't be too discouraged-we're close. Very, very close. I wish I could explain the urgency I have felt in the past few weeks to have our dossier flying to Ethiopia. It's almost surreal. I cry easily when thinking about the daughter God has planned for our family, desperately wishing this stage to be over so we can officially begin waiting for her. I know it's all in God's timing, but lately-the urgency I feel clutches at my heart. I can't really explain it, I guess...I just know that it's time. Almost like the transition phase of labor, knowing that it's getting worse before it gets better, the panicked feeling to do anything to stay ahead of the pain, the frantic focus on what's at hand and just ahead. It's a heavy weight and a heart of hope all at the same time.

But seriously, we are almost done. Here's the document list for our dossier...the only documents left to gather are in bold.

1. Application letter
2. Husband's Birth Certificate-requested, still waiting
3. Wife's Birth Certificate
4. Marriage certificate
5. Husband Physical Exam Form.
6. Doctor's letter
7. Wife's Physical Exam form
8. Doctor's letter
9. Proof of medical insurance
10. Proof of life insurance
11. Financial statement
12. Husband's employment letter
13. Husband's 2nd job employment letter
14. Wife's non-employment letter
15. Home Study
16. Letters of Reference (3)
17. Husband's Police Report
18. Wife's Police Report
19. Agency Post Placement Agreement
20. Agency Recommendation
21. Power of Attorney
22. Dossier Cover Sheet
23. 2 extra passport photos each
24. Copies of passports.
25. Family photo pages

26. Approval from USCIS (Form I-171H)

If you compare this list to the dossier progress from August 31st, it's encouraging, especially considering the items that are left.

#17 And #18 are supposedly going to be ready for Mark to pick up from the police dept. on Monday.

#19 is a simple form I need to get to the home study agency.

#25 I can whip out using Picasa in an hour.

#22, the cover sheet, can't be done until all of the documents are under it!

So, #25 is all I can really do right now, all that needs to be done sooner than later. Mark's passport renewal will be $75. My passport application (can't renew if your original passport was issued if you were under age 16 and if it's more than 15 years old, both of which apply to me) will be $100. I'll really have to pray about whether to expedite them, which would be another $60 each. I know $415 is nothing for our God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills!

#26...Praying it comes quickly! Basically, USCIS takes both the home study and the fingerprint results to create one government approval piece, the I-171H. Please pray with us on that one!

Well, if you're still reading at this point, your stamina is impressive! Thanks for standing with us through this journey!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's Done! It's done!

It's done, it's done, it's done!

I got a phone call from our home study agency informing me that our

Thanks to the Lord leading some very generous family members, the $750-$800 (variable based on social worker's travel reimbursement) we need for the final payment for our home study is available!!!

Please pray that USCIS gets our I171-H to us in good time!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday?
Our marriage certificate and my birth certificate!
First requested on July 21st...gotta love government efficiency.

More updates coming soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Paperchasing Woes

I now have a better understanding of why this phase of the adoption process is called "paperchasing." I feel like just calling a time out so that I can try and sneak up on some of the papers we need before they run off again...

In order to get a referral for our baby girl, our dossier first needs to be sent to Ethiopia.
Before we can send our dossier it needs to be complete.
To complete the dossier, we need to have form I-171H.
To get form I-171H, we need to submit our home study to USCIS.
Before we can submit our home study, we need my FBI clearance from my 3rd set of fingerprints.
We've been waiting for them for 6 1/2 weeks. *sigh* So much for our writer's recommendation to say "Please rush, as the home study is nearing completion, and the first set of fingerprints was rejected."

Our dossier also needs our birth/marriage certificates.

To obtain them, you order them online through VitalChek "for fast and easy service."
So, looking for "fast and easy service," you place your order online. VitalChek routes your order through the appropriate state office (in this case, NY). For security reasons, to complete your order, you must also print out your order receipt, add a copy of your driver's license, and upload it to VitalChek.

Of course, they will only send your birth certificate if your billing address and shipping address match. Since we have a PO Box, and have had one for 7 years now, it's obviously the one we had to use. But if you're using a PO Box, you have no option other than to use regular, untrackable, snail mail. You convince yourself that it could be worse, and that it will arrive eventually.

About the time that you expect your certificates in the mail, you get an email from the records office in NY, saying that they won't mail your certificate to a PO Box unless you get a notarized letter stating that you get your mail at a PO Box, not a physical address, along with yet another copy of your driver's license which must show the same PO Box as the address. By this time in the paperchase, our notary (who also happens to be our postmaster) is used to us showing up with papers to be notarized. After getting the letter and copy of my license notarized, it's supposedly a quick step to just upload the document from my VitalChek account. Great...except that orders over 45 days old are no longer accessible online, and any communication must be faxed.

Ordering from PA wasn't that much better. Cheaper, yes. Better, no. I tried no less than 4 times to order Mark's birth certificate online through VitalChek, and always received a note that there was a discrepancy b/t the shipping and billing address. So I would re-do, thinking perhaps I made a mistake. Still never works. So the 5th time I get the error message that my order cannot be placed online, I follow their link for fax instructions to place the order that way. I get the order faxed, and am deceived for three days into thinking that all is well. Then I get an email stating that the PA records office no longer accepts orders via fax, I should fax it in, and the order they have in their hands will be shredded.

You know, I'm not really a swearing person. I did swear like a sailor when I was in 5th grade, but it was a passing phase. Or something. But I confess that I've thought of some choice names for the Dept. of Health Records offices of NY and PA lately.

And I would recommend, if you have certificates from NY or PA and you might adopt at some point in the next decade, you might as well request the certificates now. Except that they can't be more than a year old for your dossier. So it would backfire. Guess there's nothing to do but keep chasing...and praying that God's hand pushes the paperwork fairy along at a faster pace. Or something.