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.