For the last few weeks we lacked one item in order to complete our home study. Chris' physical. Well, much to our surprise, God moved mountains in a big way (well, actually, should we have been surprised?!) and Chris got in for his adoption physical at a much, MUCH earlier date than we anticipated. Within just a few days, we had all the documents back from the doctor, lab tests back, etc. I was soooooooo excited. Then NOT excited as I thumbed through the documents to realize that we didn't have one thing from the doctor. A letter. And that letter proved to be the thorn in our sides for about two full weeks time. For some reason the doctor just didn't understand what we needed. Chris called daily. Showed up in their office. Visited the doctor on site at his workplace. Basically....we stalked her (in a friendly way!). Finally, with great anticipation, on Thursday last week, Chris had been promised by the doctor that he would have in his hands just what we needed. He showed her an example and explained precisely what we needed. He would get it. We were going to have Chinese food for dinner to celebrate and all the kids kept asking if we had "the paper" we needed yet so they could eat "Chinese chicken nuggets." Thursday came and Chris went to the doctor's office and picked up what was supposed to be a letter. What it ended up being was a six page dictation note from his physical exam. All rather useful information, but not quite what we need for something that needs to be translated into Chinese. It wasn't even signed. I was heart broken and thought we'd never get what we needed. I sent the six pages to the social worker just in case she might approve it, but was not at all shocked when she wrote back and said no. Back to the drawing board. Again.... I'm not going to lie. This was probably the most deflated I'd felt in a long time in this process. The kids were watching a video and and was hanging up laundry and sort of hid in Grace's closet for a bit and had a huge sob. I just couldn't believe it. I felt so....stuck. And I felt like our daughter was stuck too.
Then, Friday came. With renewed spirit, Chris wrote the letter for the doctor just as we needed it, printed it, and took it to the office. He asked the receptionist to simply place a piece of letterhead in the copier and copy the letter onto their letterhead. Then the doctor signed it and like that....we had it. WE HAD IT! Oh happy day! We got the letter we needed!
Home study complete....yet to be finalized (but that should be soon!). I-800-A off to the agency! And what else? What is sitting open on my desktop? Oh....just a dossier manual! Already I had some major heart attack inducing panic moments when reading the dossier manual, but a couple of quick e-mails with our social worker cleared all of that up and I'm not really sweating collecting those documents. Our agency does all the authenticating for us, so we don't even have to get a single item notarized! Just all originals. I've already requested our birth certificates and we already had our marriage license from when I renewed my passport. Just need to track down some original documents and get them off to our social worker. So here is how it works and what we're doing now:
- Social worker and supervisor finish home study and make edits
- We review home study and make edits
- Home study finalized
- Finalized home study sent overnight to USCIS, along with our I800A application and hangs out there for a bit (the wait time is typically 90 days, but we've been told turn around right now is actually 50 days, so we hope we catch that wave of quicker processing with no hiccups!)
- While USCIS processes our application, we work on gathering the 13 documents (plus some extra items like photos) for our dossier
- The moment we receive our approval from USCIS, we scan to social worker
- Social Worker immediately begins authentication process on all dossier documents (this is a series of checks and balances to assure China all signatures are "real" and from authorized individuals)
- Authentication is finished within 2-4 weeks from time of start
- D-T-C....DOSSIER TO CHINA!!! This is a big step and will likely be celebrated with more Chinese food in our home!
Ten months. This is NOT where I expected us to be at ten months in. Never did I imagine I'd still be waiting for a finalized home study at this point in time. Never did I imagine we'd be nearly half through 2014 before we even began our dossier. I guess that isn't really what matters, though, is it? It isn't about what I imagined and despite the tears and anxiety over all this, I wouldn't have it the way I imagined it. It is all about Him and His ultimate plan. When the road gets rocky there is so much peace and rest in that. He knows! He knows how long this will take and He is timing it just so....just so....just so....because one day, at the end of the rocky road, is a little girl and all has to be "just so" for her to be ours. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Ten months. Home study complete and almost finalized. Oh happy day!