Our Dossier is in Ethiopia!

I'm a dope. I thought Frankfurt, DE was in Delaware. It was Germany. Now it is in Ethiopia waiting to be picked up. Very exciting!

Dec 11, 2007 12:00 AM

Int'l shipment release


12:00 AM

Held at FedEx location for recipient pickup


Package available for pickup at: HIGHER NO 21

Dec 9, 2007 1:09 AM

In transit


1:09 AM

Arrived at FedEx location


Dec 8, 2007 6:09 AM

Departed FedEx location


1:37 AM

Departed FedEx location


12:14 AM

Arrived at FedEx location


Dec 7, 2007 9:24 PM

Left origin


4:47 PM

Picked up


2:30 PM

Package data transmitted to FedEx


It's Away! Our dossier is on its way!

Dear Families,

Your authenticated dossier will be mailed to Ethiopia today! The FedEx tracking number is xxxxx. I will also mail your photocopies of the authentication pages today.

As you track your dossier, please keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, do not be worried if the package makes stops in European or other countries for long periods of time. This is normal, and I've seen this happen often. Also, when the FedEx office in Ethiopia receives packages for our in-country staff representative, they call him to pick up the package rather than deliver it to his office. Because the FedEx office is not in close proximity to our staff member's office, it often takes him a few days to pick up the package. If you see notes that the package has arrived in Ethiopia but not been picked up, this is why.

Congratulations on the completion of this portion of your adoption process!


From our adoption coordinator

Hi Chris,

I wanted to let you know that I received your certified birth certificates, marriage certificate and I-171H today. We will authenticate your documents this week and will hopefully mail them to Ethiopia by the end of the week. I will send you an email confirmation when we mail your dossier.




Another week, another round of paperwork...

So, you know those State certified documents that needed State certification I was talking about? Well, apparently, as much as *I* can't wrap my mind around it, both Michigan and Illinois have a procedure for creating such documentation. (We just had to make a written request to the Department of Redundancy Department. -JK) Anyway, we received both sets of (Super-Certified?) paperwork in the mail this week, and shipped them to America World that night. Fed-Ex dropped them off on Friday and we're hoping that's the end of the "Upon further review..." phone calls.
I can't remember if we mentioned this before, but the first of our paperwork expires January 1st. However, once our application is accepted in total, we would only have to upkeep a couple documents (like our homestudy,) and most of it won't need to be renewed. So I feel like even if we do need to resubmit something, at least we've got about a month to do it.

So we'll see...


We are going to be parents! Someday!

We received the final 2 pieces of paperwork yesterday and it will arrive in VA on Friday. Everything is notarized and certified and authorized within an inch of its life.

Our dossier is complete!


Logistical Fortitude

Welcome to another installment of ‘What they don’t tell you about adoption.’ You get warned about the ridiculous mountain of paperwork you’ll need to fill out, but you also are reassured that somewhere other mortals have accomplished this task. So it may be difficult, but it is doable. When you get the list of paperwork that needs to be filled out (for us that’s items A through Q) you realize that you have inadvertently signed up for a government sponsored scavenger hunt. The thing is, there’s no second place. It’s all or nothing, and only winners need apply.

Last Saturday, we received in the mail our last 2 pieces of paperwork! We needed our background checks certified and they finally arrived. In layman’s terms, this leg of the journey involved driving to Evanston to get fingerprinted, wait 2 weeks for background paperwork, when it comes in the mail, call the State and tell them the number on the bottom of the form they just sent you, then wait another two weeks for them to send you a certified copy of what you’ve just received. Last time we tried this we waited too long to make the phone call (btw, noone tells you this is how it works, and you only have 30 days from when you get the first background check to request a certified copy.) This was elusive item K on our list. See, scavenger hunt, seriously. But we got it. And for about 15 minutes there was rejoicing. Then Chris checked the list again. Turns out that Item A, our formal adoption request letter (which we had already redone once) was not certified. We’re sure it was sent out, but apparently never came back.

So blegh.

At this point, we have two choices. We can mail the letter downstate and wait 2 weeks, or take the day off of work and drive to the Office of Index in Chicago. The thought of heading into Chicago is so repulsive that we don’t even consider it an option. But on Monday, I just happened to have training in the City. And, as it turns out, the Office of Index was right in between the train station and my class. So, two dollars and a twenty minute walk later, I have a certified copy of our LAST letter in my hands. I even made it to class on time.

When I got home that night, we ran out to Kinkos-FedEx and made 4 copies of everything, 3 copies for America World, one for us. 60 dollars later, WE SENT IN OUR DOSSIER!!!

We were exhausted, but we won. 6 years in the making, our DOSSIER is done.

The next couple of days Chris and I would look at each other and say, “Hey, we’re finished.” It didn’t really sink in, though.

Then Thursday, the day Fed-Ex said that our dossier would arrive in America World’s hands, Chris got confirmation from AW that they had indeed received our dossier… and that it wasn’t complete.

Apparently 4 of the documents we sent in still need certification. The punishment/irony/insult of the situation is that those documents are original state-certified documents (which is why we didn’t find some way to get them re-certified) like our marriage license and birth certificates. So basically we need a statement from the State that certifies our State certified documents are really legitimate. Yes, it’s like asking a woodchuck if he chucks wood. No, we can’t argue the rules we can only play the game.

So now, we wait for our paperwork to come BACK from the adoption agency so that we can resubmit them to the States (i.e. both Illinois and Michigan) that already certified them. Right now, we’re still exhausted but also deflated.

We wait.



One Down

We received another complete document in the mail yesterday from Oklahoma. Why OK, you ask? Well... if it ever comes up for you... If you have to get a notarized item certified, you have to go through the state the notary is registered. Our life insurance is through a company in OK, and we had to get a letter with our insurance info.

It costs $25 per document to get a certification from OK. $20 per document for VA. And $2 per document for IL. I don't know why there is such a disparity, but IL pretty much rocks, since we sent about 20 documents in for certification for $40 total. $25 x 20 is a MUCH bigger number.

Don't tell IL they could be charging more, ok? :)


No Idea.

I don't think people have any idea of the impact they cause when conversations such as this take place:

Lady (who I just met, but who knows my mother-in-law): Hey! You'd better give Nancy some grandchildren!
Me: ?!?!? Um...
Lady: No, really, you should... she doesn't bring it up, but I bring it up to her.
Me: Well, it's up to governments at this point.
Lady: Governments?
Me: Yes, we're adopting.
Lady: Why?! You don't want your own children? Or can't you have them?
Me, in my mind: What the H#$@?
Me, out loud: Um, we can't have them.
Lady: OH! But people who adopt usually end up getting pregnant.
Me, in my mind: OMG! I am about to strike you down.
Me, out loud: Yes, but that cannot happen for us.
Lady looks skeptically at me.

I remained calm through this whole thing. My poor MIL was beet red. I wonder if she knew that this was not an uncommon attitude among people. I noticed a picture of the lady's kids on her desk, and thought that she probably had NO IDEA what she was talking about. So, I'm trying not to fume at the ultra-personal approach she took with someone she just met. Holy cow! I suppose this is a portent of things to come... we'll have children of an obviously different nationality, who "people" will see as fodder for EXTREMELY personal questions.


Oopsie, missed it...

Apparently, the Ethiopian Millennium was on Wednesday. They use a different calendar system.

Here's a link to the site: http://www.ethiopianmillennium.com/


Moving Ahead

It's been so long since we've written, but, yes, we are still working toward adoption. We have nearly completed our dossier (that's the inch thick pile of notarized and certified documents that will get translated and sent to Ethiopia). We are waiting (of course!) for our own gov't and our state for docs. We hope to have everything completed in the next couple of weeks. Then we will wait. (Of course!) :)

In accordance with our foster license from DCFS, we must take 10 hrs. of training. Some of it we did online... and actually, if you want to do some too, just to get involved, anyone can sign up on this site. It is free until you want the certificate, which we had to get to prove we took it, but you totally don't have to do. I imagine some of it would be helpful to parent children born to you as well.

Last Tuesday, we took a class hosted by our home study agency about International Adoption in general. Much of it was familiar to us. (Ok, honestly, one good thing about waiting so long for things to work out is that it gives you THAT MUCH MORE TIME to prepare, and figure out how you really think about things, and start developing skills.) I was glad we went, though, because it solidified some ideas we had about the post-adoption experience.

1. For the 1st month at home, we should cocoon and bond, just the children and us. Yes, this excludes friends, family, and even grandparents, which I know is difficult. The reason for this is because the children will have to bond exclusively to us. They have probably received inconsistent and sporadic care in the orphanage, and they need to learn that WE are their caregivers. Some children display indiscriminate affection for adults, because they have not bonded with one or both parents or caregiver. This has to be addressed in this way for their future development as individuals.
2. Consistency and Structure will be the watchwords for the 1st year or more. These kids will be used to the routine of the orphanage, which we will try to find out when we go. We can then keep a similar schedule, but change the institutional parts out for family ones. For example, they may be used to spending a great deal of time in bed or in a crib. Any playing at the orphanage happens in bed. We would not keep toys in their room, and use the bed for only sleeping and sleep related activities... you know, the bed time routine.
3. Keep a quiet, stress-free home, and ease them into things. These kids will be easily overwhelmed with a new culture. (A bunch of the families at the training already had kids, and were trying to figure out how to integrate new kids into the hub-bub of current family life. We should have that part easier, since we are, by nature, pretty calm and quiet.) Even after the one month cocooning in the very beginning, we'll not want to travel to see people for quite awhile, but people can come to us.

Next week we have a class about Attachment. I'll write more tidbits of info as I think of them.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.


Mapquest ALMOST gave accurate directions...

We received our 2nd summons for fingerprinting. I had Lee fill out vacation forms for 1/2 day from work to get this done. He beeped me and asked what he should put for a reason for absence. We finally came up with "summoned by Home Land Security." Heee....

We had to go to Waukegan. If it sounds far away, that's because it is. We had to be there at 8 a.m. We left our house at 6 a.m. We took the back roads that Mapquest recommended, and it did look ultimately shorter than taking 90 to 94. More direct. After bad traffic light mojo in various small towns, we pulled in at 7:55. Whew. Mapquest let us down at this point: had us go north on a street, then making a u-turn, and going south on the same street. Um...

I have mentioned before about how hard these Gov't buildings are to find. This one was no exception. It was wedged in between a laundromat and other nondescript businesses in a seedy mini-mall. And it was called "INS Support Center". Now, THAT particular name was not on ANY of our documents.

[Also, maybe I didn't mention this before, but the 1st time we got these forms, I received 2 and Lee received 2. Same times, same dates. The 2nd time we got the forms in the mail, Lee got 1 and I got 3. 2 of mine were for 8 a.m. and one was for 9 a.m. What the?]

So, we line up with the people waiting outside, and are given a form to fill out. I whispered to Lee, "Don't they have all this information? I mean, like our addresses?" He said "yes." oh, ok. Then we got led to the fingerprinting machines and the fingerprinter(?) types in the information from the forms. (Surely, the government agencies could coordinate this information?) The fingerprint machines are cool. There's a little plate of glass that reads your prints, and they show up on the computer screen. Neat.


I don't think I like your tone...

Background Story: Last time we filled out the I-$685, they sent us forms for fingerprinting, that we were to take to the USCIS office at our convenience, during their business hours. Couldn't find the place. Its address was on route 59, BUT the building had its BACK to 59. The only reason we found it is because we turned in at the building to turn around, because we were sure we missed it AGAIN. Then, the lady taking our biometrics (called this, because "fingerprinting" is too understandable) was very mean, and was COMPLAINING ABOUT US, TO OTHERS. Um, helloooo, we’re standing right here.

So, we were expecting a similar “forms to demeaning experience” this time.

We got the forms on Monday. We are being summoned for fingerprints on this Saturday. If we miss the appointment, our claim will be considered abandoned. (Their words.) There was a little check box to reschedule. So, then I’m wondering, do I write in a new requested date? There’s an 800 number on the form to call with questions. Only it doesn’t really want to give you any answers. I dinked around for about 10 minutes going in and out of the long-winded menu options, before realizing that I was NEVER going to speak to a PERSON.

So, off to the Post Office to over-night mail the forms back. I suppose I could have done 2 day, but I felt better about over-night. Yeah… $16.35. Also, it took me 10 minutes of driving back and forth to find the local Post Office. What is it about Gov’t buildings being set WAY back from the road? Oh, there it is... next to the pizza place.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal, but it irks me how convoluted this whole system is. It must be so difficult for people from other countries to work the system. I was born here and I can barely work it.


It ain't just the paperwork... Part II

So for better or worse, my involvement with the clinic is done. Getting the TB tests into our file, but possibly hosing one of the best Notary's in the world left 'The only thing I needed to do today' as kind of a Pyrrhic victory. I look in the car seat next to me and take inventory. Returning the DVD can wait, post office is on the other side of town, I'm nowhere near a gas station, so I make the passports my next priority. A little extra credit always helps my mood.
I realize I'm about 3 blocks from our small town coffeshop/drugstore/photodeveloper so I make that my next stop. Focusing on the the task at hand I remembered that the reason Chris hadn't already made copies of our passports is because they had to be color. I also made the connection that picking up various drugs were on the honeydo list and that's probably why I was drawn to the drugstore in the first place. I walk in and ask if they have a color copier. I'm told they do not, but the "Shop with 'World in the name' across the street" did have one. Fine. I sift through a couple aisles of drugs, call Chris about 4 times with questions, and finally make my way to the checkout. At the counter I looked through the front window and quickly deduce that "PRINT WORLD" is next on my list.

So I walk into PrintWorld, slap the passports on the counter and say, "Well, I've got an easy one for you. I just need two color copies of these."

The guy just looks at me like I've got my shirt on inside-out and replies, "I can't do that."

"Why? I can see your color copier. It's right there."

"No, it's not that. It's illegal."

At this point my brain is trying to grapple itself out of the Catch-22 before it. Of course it's against the law. Why did I think I could just waltz in and photocopy a passport? Why does the Ethiopian government require illegal documentation? Where's the nearest self service color copier? All I can do is smile and defer to a higher power.

"Let me call my wife" comes out of my mouth.

(we have Nextels...)
*BEEP* "Hey, honey, I'm having a problem making copies of our passports."
*BEEP* "Really, what's the matter?"
*BEEP* "It's illegal and the print guy won't do it." At this point Mr. PrintWorld chimes in that it's probably even be a felony.
*BEEP* "WHAT? Did you tell him it's required for our dossier?"
*BEEP* "That doesn't make it any less illegal." Now behind me I hear PrintWorld Man debating with himself about whether we could use entrapment as a defense.
*BEEP* "Well I did it last time. I'll take it to Kinkos."
*BEEP* "Um, ok. ... ... love you."

I look up at Mr. Printer, thank him for his time and tell him that I will be back if I ever have any legitimate printing needs. He's laughing as I walk away, which is when I realize that I actually got excellent service considering I just asked him to commit a criminal act...

My other errands were a breeze after that.

So in conclusion...
-Our Notary DID catch the doctor and got our medical paperwork Notarized. Go Pam Go!
-And as it turns out, Chris had misread the 'copy the passport' line, and that a regular b/w photocopy was going to be sufficient (and felony-free!)
-It also turns out that I did indeed have my shirt on inside-out all morning.

It ain't just the paperwork... Part I

The adoption process is often referred to as a paper-pregnancy. When I first heard that, I got the impression that the process was going to be like a long day at the IDOT. If you show up with every piece of paperwork that you think you might need about yourself and your vehicle, and a enough money in the checkbook, then things will go smoothly, it'll just take longer than it should. But actually, it feels more like the dreaded high school bug collection. Getting the first 4 or 5 bugs are easy, but you still need 25 more different insects to complete the assignment. And by the time you get 17-20 bugs, you're skimming your neighbors pool for free in hopes of finding waterbugs or emailing your cousin in Iraq to send you some 8 inch desert spider to put you into A range.

Anyway, so this is me yesterday joining the bug hunt... I mean standing in line at IDOT... I mean helping with the paperwork.

I stayed home from work on Tuesday and so Chris gave me a honeydo list. Fine. It was verbally dictated to me at 6:30 in the morning. Which if you know me, you know that's when I process information the best, so it'll come as no surprise to you that when I got out of bed 3 hours later, I promptly went into the basement to play video games for the rest of the morning. Normally, this is how I help with the paperwork...

So a little after 11:30 Chris calls to make sure I'm awake. (Um, yeah, the Demolition Derby isn't going so smash itself...) and says to me, "Scratch everything else I asked you to do. I need you to get our TB test results to the clinic." This is exactly what I wanted to hear on my day off. I've officially been given permission to disregard everything I've already forgotten AND I just have to get 2 pieces of paper to the clinic. Not a problem. "Oh and call the notory and ask her to set up a time to notorize the tests and our physicals." 2 pieces of paper and a phone call, got it. "Oh and I think the clinic closes from noon to 1 for lunch." 2 pieces of paper, a phone call, and now I've got less than 15 minutes. So I hang up the phone and immediately call our friendly neighborhood notary while rooting around for semi-appropriate clothing. Turns out she was more than happy to swing by the clinic with her stamper after a 12 o'clock meeting. So far so good. I reach for our TB test results and realize that they are under our passports. Passports... hmm... it trickles into my mind that getting photocopies of our passports was one of the things on the original list. Which means, if I get that taken care of, I now get extra credit for remembering something I was allowed to forget. So I reach for my car keys and next to them there's an envelope full of financial stuff that was supposed to get mailed 2 months ago. (Note that this was also no longer on the list, and therefore bonus spouse points) So I grab the passports, the mail, my cellphone, and 2 pieces of paper, and head out the door. I get to the car, and there's a DVD to return sitting shotgun, as yet another blatant attempt at a self-reminder. So me, the DVD, the passports, the mail, the cellphone, and 2 pieces of paper go tearing off to the clinic. We get there at 11:57 on fumes.

The nurses were none too happy to help me with my paperwork on their lunch break, but all facts considering, didn't give me too much of a hassle about it. They took our TB test results and gave me a copy. I told them the notary would be swinging by early this afternoon to stamp our stuff. "The doctor has patients this afternoon, she'll need to make an appointment," was the response I got. Now you may note that those were indeed my wife's exact directions. I was just a little busy bouncing around in one sandal to relay that to the Notary when I had her on the phone.

So I run back to the car and leave a message for the Notary saying, "Call the clinic before driving out. You need an appointment." I hang up and leave it in God and Verizon's hands. If you've ever stuck a pin through a bug, only to watch it start moving again... you know how I felt at that moment.


What does that stand for?

I was thinking today about how quickly all this paperwork is going this time. And I thought "Wouldn't it be great if something was in the mail today to confirm how quickly all this is going?" Our God is great and awesome, and there were TWO things in the mail: IL State Police forms for background checks, and a receipt from our I-600 form, which should be called the I-$685 form. (Or, in our case, the I-$2,055 form, since this is the 3rd time we've done it.)

So I filled out the forms for the background checks and went to address the envelope. They wanted it sent to this address:

Illinois State Police Information and Technology Command Bureau of Identification.

Great Scott! Do you kiss your mama with that mouth? ISPITCBI... I Spit Cbi? Is Pit Cbi? Nope, doesn't make a good acronym. Who decided on all those words? Who do you work for? Oh, I work for the Illinois State Police Information and Technology Command Bureau of Identification.


We do not have TB.

That is all.

Well, not totally all. We were supposed to be at the Health Dept. at 2:15 on Friday.

At 2:45, Lee called me and said "Weren't we supposed to be somewhere at 2:15?"

So, we raced down there, but turns out it was no big deal. We got our little yellow cards with the 'negative' circled, so we're good.


TubercuLOsis. oOOoh. Good One.

We got our TB tests yesterday at the lovely and scenic Department of Public Heath. An Elmo video was cranking in the waiting room. It was LOUD. Note to self: No Elmo in the house. Ever. I was ready to puncture my own ear drums to make it stop! Luckily, we were called in just as I was raising the pen to my ear.

There is a sliding scale payment for getting tested. The Dr. (?) Nurse (?) who administered the test was apologetic about the fact that we'd have to pay full price. $28 each. In the grand scheme of adoption costs, this was one of the cheapest good times we've had. :)

Friday, we go back to have the results read. Woot. I'll bring the earplugs in case Elmo is in the Hizz-ouse.


Kane County Clerk - You Rock!

I ordered Lee's Birth Certificate Monday. We got it TODAY. Yes. Wednesday. I think it's a good sign. :)


Let's Get Physical

Lee and I took the day off yesterday to get physicals and to get fingerprinted.

The fingerprinting went quickly. The place opened at 9 and we were not the only ones waiting at about 8:50. The fingerprinting "office" was a teeny tiny room in an office complex, and there was one lady with a laptop and a digital fingerprinting machine on a folding table. Our experience here was much better than the one we had at the USCIS last year. (We'll get to do that one again as well, so I'll write about that later.)

On to the physicals. We had 2 different forms for each of us to be filled out by the Dr. One for the DCFS and one for our agency (the one that goes to Ethiopia). DCFS apparently only cares about 2 things: 1. Do you have TB? and 2. Can you lift a child? The Dr. and I were laughing about that. "Oh, so you can have any other disease... just not TB?" The other (international) form was more intensive (HIV, HepB, urine sample)... so we gave some blood too. And urine. This may be TMI, but what is wrong with me that I cannot pee correctly into the cup? I once again peed all over my hand, and barely got enough for them to sample. Hope some form somewhere doesn't ask about THAT!

We worked on paperwork all afternoon. I think I have a better handle on the forms than last time. It didn't seem quite so daunting, even though, technically, there is more to do for Ethiopia than for the Ukraine. I was able to order our marriage license and birth certificates online. Also, I was able to email people from whom we needed official letters. I'm wondering how all this was possible without technology.