After we received our USCIS approval, whoop, paperwork mode went into overdrive around here. A family is leaving Monday, May 2nd, and could carry our dossiers with them and hand them over in person to our facilitation team in country. Suddenly after months and months the end, or at least a tangible milestone, was in sight.
The only problem is we may not make it in time.
Because our first round of paperwork had all expired while waiting for the confusion with our homestudy agency to be cleared up, I was wary of doing all the paperwork again prior to receiving that final vital piece.
On Monday I mailed off our second round of verified notarized copies of our marriage certificate to be apostilled down in Kansas; in the cover sheet I included a bit about how grateful I was for their speedy process *hint hint*
On Tuesday we learned about the family leaving May 2nd.
On Wednesday I learned that my plan to drive all our remaining dossier documents down to the state capital to have same-day apostilles done in person was not going to work.
On Wednesday afternoon we popped over to the notary office in town and a man with superhuman patience notarized all our documents. A trustee from our church also came since we needed signatures for the lease agreement and proof of employment forms. From there I bundled the kids into the car and drove up to get the notarized medical clearance forms that our Dr. had been kind enough to whisk off to the bank to be notarized the night before.
On Wednesday night I emailed all the new paperowork to our facilitation team and heard back that some of the paperwork needed to be redone. Sob.
On Thursday morning at 6am booth our incredible notary and trustee stood in our dinning room signing and notarizing the new updated documents. With all the documents in hand the entire family loaded into the car for a day trip down to the state capital about 2+ hours away.
We had 46 documents that needed to be apostilled in our own state. Yes, 46 ADDITIONAL documents, the total is somewhere around 60 docs. All the other states we have dealt with have a same-day turn around option where you can walk in and have the apostilles completed while you stand there without paying an expedite fee. I foolishly assumed our state would be as awesome. Alas! (give me a break, if you can’t be over-dramatic on a blog where is the fun) And woe is me! There is no same-day processing desk in my state, expedited docs are $35 each and take 1-3 business days but can take more for any reason, and regular processing is $10 and takes 3-7 business days but can take more OR less depending on the phase of the moon, how much chocolate you happened to leave for the lady at the desk, if the local pet store has a sale on white mice, and if your favorite color is purple. At least three of those may be on our side.
While my husband took the two girls to the post office to get a pre-paid overnight envelope, I filled out the processing form in the basement of the capital, peppering Priscilla with questions to make sure I didn’t muck up this final part. I counted and recounted the number of documents at least five times, double checking against my master list, making sure all the docs that needed to be there had made it in. I weighed the pros and cons of doing the expedited route. The most obvious con was cost, $1,610 to get all back anywhere from the next day to the following Wednesday, or $460 to get it anywhere from the next day to the following Friday. Priscilla’s two cents, that based on the paperwork load she’d expect it to be processed by Monday and home by Tuesday, made the decision much easier and I checked the “standard processing time” box. After all, we still had no guarantee that our marriage certs would be back in time either, we simply could not drop the additional $1,150 for expedited, not at this stage of the game. We already know we will be paying for everything to be expedited for Travis and Angelina once we are able to bring them home; those fees will build up quickly and time will be of the essence.
I didn’t expect to get a little teary eyed when I finally handed everything over but I turned away from the desk with a catch in my throat, so much has happened to get to this point.
We had a picnic lunch outside the botanical gardens and wandered around the grounds for a bit before loading back into the car and heading home.
On Friday I called the Kansas state department to check on the progress of our marriage certificates. I’ve learned it’s really not best to call government agencies on Fridays, this late in the work week the bureaucratic malaise is palpable over the phone. A despondent yet feebly helpful employee answered the phone, said he’d see if he could find out any progress, put me on hold where the only noise was a sporadic clicking, and then returned a few minutes later to say he didn’t see our documents anywhere, the person who handles the apostilles for our adoptee country was on break, and glancing at her desk he hadn’t seen our names on the tops of any of the piles. I thanked him for the effort and sincerely wished him a good weekend, it sounded like he needed it. As I hung up I thought “great, whoever is in charge of our apostilles has piles of paperwork all over their desk.” Not a good sign.
On Saturday I tried to not think about all the paperwork. There was truly nothing I could do to speed things up at this point. It was hard to keep it out of my mind though because all morning was spent chopping onions and peeling potatoes in preparation for our final fundraiser, The Potato Pancake Supper! The church kitchen was a hive of activity and my fellow worker bees wanted to know how the adoption progress was going. I told them that if all the documents came back this week, even if they arrived on Saturday, we would be able to send our completed dossiers on their merry way.
On Sunday morning I was able to sit through an entire church service for the first time in I don’t know how long with both kiddos.
On Sunday afternoon I received an email from our facilitation team. The notary who filled out our medical documents had made a small, completely understandable, human error. It is an error that may be easy to resolve. It is an error that may cost us over $100, another round trip drive to the capital, another overnight postage fee, and potentially the missed opportunity to send our dossier overseas on May 2nd. If we had nothing else on the calendar for the day I would have changed into pjs, turned on My Little Pony for the kids, made a frozen pizza for dinner and spent the rest of the day in tears. Mercifully we still had a very busy day ahead of us.
On Saturday evening I watched as over 400 people flooded into the church to eat potato pancakes and support our family during this time. Praise be to God for His care and provision. Quite a few people bought tshirts, families stopped by with photo albums to show “gotcha days” of adopted children and grandchildren, we were completely engulfed in love. Sure, I still cried a bit, but these tears were from gratitude and joy.
On Monday not much happened. No paperwork arrived.
Today, Tuesday, I waited for the docs from our state department. Today was the earliest they would have reasonably arrived. I made sure to be at the house so I could sign for the package just in case it came. It didn’t.
In a recent email from our facilitation team a single sentence among pages and pages of info jumped out at me, they told us to let go of control during the trip because we will have none, situations change all the time. The past seven days have been practice.
We could potentially still make the May 2nd deadline but the odds are not looking good.