Last Friday was James' birthday, so we had requested the day off of work back in January of last year assuming we would possibly take a mini vacation or just do something fun. Little did he know that 10 months later he'd find himself spending his "fun" birthday having a photo shoot done, visiting the notary's office, and then spending the afternoon at the Doctor's office and then getting more lab work done (they ordered the wrong tests last week)! When you work full time, you have to make the best out of those days off! Despite the fact that no one wants to spend their birthday at the doctor, it was still such a giddy, happy feeling to know that we were making such great progress in just one day.
We did manage to spend some quality time having fun with friends in celebration of his birthday after running all of those errands. We have been trying to keep to a very strict budget to save as much money as possible for our adoption, but it was very nice to have a night out for a special occasion. We joined two of my friends for a hockey game (our city is home to a feeder team for the Detroit Red Wings) and then visited a couple of local breweries in town.
Yesterday (Halloween) was another very productive day- we woke up early (for a Saturday) and took a few more documents to be notarized, and then visited the Secretary of State's office to have them certified. Walking into the S.o.S. office at 11:30, my heart SUNK when I saw the lobby- there must have been at LEAST 150 people in there. There was no place to sit, people were line along all of the walls, sitting on the floor, and all looking very frustrated. I had never seen so many people in there. I took a deep breath and resigned myself to spending our entire afternoon in that office, but when we went to do the "pre-check" the lady told us to step right up to the counter and someone would be right out to help us. We ended up waiting about 10 minutes and then the manager came out and asked us just a few question and then got to work. Until this moment I really had no idea what this "certification" step really entailed, but really all it is is the S.o.S. clerk looking up the name of the notary or county clerk on each document in their database, and then printing out a cover sheet to attach to each document that verifies that person is actually authorized to issue or notarize that document. Then they put a big gold seal on the front of the cover letter and staple the cover letter to your document. another seal goes over the staple (folded over the two documents) so that they will know it hasn't been tampered with, and then another staple goes through the seal. Walking out of there I saw a few people give us not-so-friendly glares (I'm sure they were wondering why we got to cut in line... we still don't know why, but I'm not complaining) but that could not stifle my excitement about having this step behind us!
Let me tell you, I was more exited about these gold seals (and the fact they stood for progress towards bringing our child home) than most kids are about Halloween Candy!
I was on such a role that when we got home from running errands I got right to work in planning for our next fundraising effort (stay tuned). Due to it being very cold and rainy weather we had very few trick or treaters, so I was able to nearly finish that task, and will be launching the campaign later today.
The next step in our paper chase is to have these documents authenticated by the Chinese consulate. Unlucky for us, the consulate we are assigned to in Chicago actually drastically changed their rules this past Thursday, which means that 4 or 5 of our 10 certified documents no longer meet their notarization requirements. Rather than starting from scratch on those items, we will be sending our paperwork through the consulate in Washington D.C. For whatever reason, each consulate has very different rules, and when you use D.C. the documents first have to go through the U.S. Department of State. Thankfully, there are courier services who will help you navigate through all of this, since documents have to be walked into these locations in person to avoid weeks of delays if you mail the documents. Once we gather up the next two dossier documents (James' employment verification letter and our completed home study) and get them certified, we will send our documents to a courier service, and (for a fee of course) they will handle getting them authenticated by the U.S. Department of State and then the Chinese Consulate and and them mail them back to us. At this point they will be ready to send to our adoption agency, who will translate them and then send them on to China. This collection of documents (comprised of medical checks, marriage license, birth certificates, photographs, employment letters, doctor's letters, etc) is called your Dossier, and the date it is acknowledged as received by China is referred to as your LID, for "Logged In Dossier". LID is a huge milestone in the adoption journey, and means that you are close to being matched with files of children to review. Our goal right now is to be LID sometime in January or February. There is a one or two week shutdown at the beginning of the year for Chinese New Year, so that might end up pushing our LID into February, but hopefully not much further out than that.
This week our big milestone will be meeting with our Home Study social worker on Wednesday to turn in all of our paperwork for the home study process (most of that is just photocopies of certain documents needed for the dossier). Our agency's policy is that they have 10 business days to completed a draft of our home study report. We will then receive a copy, and have the chance to proof-read and request any changes before it is sent on to our adoption agency for what is called "critical review".
We would have been able to turn everything in this past week, but of course the doctor's forms were the last piece we were waiting on, and our social worker left for an extended vacation the day before our appointments. It is going to feel SO good to hand her our paperwork, knowing that one of the two biggest steps in the adoption process is complete!
I'm sure that all of that is WAY more than you all wanted to know about adoption paperwork, but it's important to me to try and document as much of our journey as possible to one day share with our adopted child(ren). I also hope that some of you reading this might be fellow adoptive parents yourselves- I know that reading the blogs of others has really helped us through our process, so any insight I can share for others to help them along would be worth my while!
Now we will shift our attention to preparing for the next two big fees we have coming up, our home study fee and our second agency fee. Stay tuned for another post today announcing our next fundraising venture to help us with these costs.
Here is a sneak peak at some of our favorite photos from our shoot last week. I am so blessed to have a good friend with an awesome gift of photography! I'll be honest, when we were taking these photos we were really just having a lot of fun with it and it was a very lighthearted experience, but every time I look at a few of these shots I get a little teary-eyed.
[This is one of them that gets me every time...]