On July 25th we officially submitted our adoption application to CCAI. Once accepted, we submitted our application to Crossroads to complete our homestudy. Then, we moved full steam ahead until that “little” emergency surgery incident of mine abruptly stopped everything for a few weeks in September. Thankfully, we were able to do our adoption training online so that saved us a lot of logistical problems that we would have otherwise had. We started moving forward only to get held up by Adam Walsh background checks. Those should have taken a few days, but ended up taking a few months, which in turn held up final approval of our homestudy. Everything about adoption is time sensitive so we decided to “seal” the documents that we had collected thus far so that they didn’t expire while we were waiting for homestudy approval. Sealing essentially means having everything notarized locally, sending it to the state to be verified, then the State Department for further verification, and then final approval at the Chinese Embassy. Needless to say, we are keeping Fed-Ex in business at the moment. Anyway, we were feeling pretty confident when we sent our police reports (which ironically are different from the Adam Walsh fingerprint checks and the Immigration/Homeland Security fingerprints), medical reports, employment verification, assets verification, adoption petition, birth certificates, and marriage certificate off to Washington.
And then they were all rejected at the Embassy. According to our courier service, this was the first time he had seen this in 17 years. One of our notary seals was about ½ inch off from where the embassy wanted it to be. The State Department was awesome about moving several of the seals for us, but unfortunately 4 of the 11 documents couldn’t be saved. The upside is that they were ones that were fairly easy and affordable to replace. Meanwhile, we had to Fed-Ex another cashier’s check out because the Embassy only accepts exact payment. This caused some (i.e. a lot of) tears on my part until I came to the realization with the help of our awesome dossier consultant, Sarah, that every family encounters a problem during the adoption process. Although this does set us back a bit financially, it didn’t happen after we had a match and were counting down to meet our child, it didn’t require us spending several extra months in another country, and it isn’t costing us thousands of unplanned dollars. All-in-all, this was a fairly benign oops in the grand scheme of things.
While all of this was happening, our Adam Walsh background checks came back and our homestudy was finally approved. We were then able to send off our I800a, which is our petition to Homeland Security/Immigration to adopt internationally from a Hague certified country. They texted us to let us know that they had received our application, and then approximately 2 weeks later we received a letter letting us know that we had our biometrics appointment scheduled for January 3rd.
So on Friday we all headed to St. Paul for our biometrics appointment. They actually request that only those with an appointment attend, but honestly we didn’t have a babysitter and figured we just stand if there was an issue in the waiting room with 4 chairs instead of 2. We arrived at the designated location only to find that they had moved. Thankfully, we found them a few blocks up the road and then things got a bit interesting. Because they are a federal building, service dogs are not permitted. On top of that, no electronics are allowed either. So we had a child who was absolutely devastated that he didn’t have Elf with him (he kept repeating “but he is a service dog” over and over again), and didn’t have any of his distractions with him either. Big sister was trying desperately to get over a nasty GI bug that didn’t improve much with a 2.5 hour car drive, and oh I didn’t have a voice as a result of serum sickness from an allergic reaction to penicillin. It is safe to say we made an impression on Homeland Security! Honestly, though, the kids did well, although Caden did melt down once we were back in the car because he leaned over the seat to say hi to Elf and once again realized he didn’t have his “bestest friend” with him. And then we drove home in high winds and blowing snow. It is fairly interesting though how a 5 hour drive with our children can make us wonder what the heck were we thinking when we decided a 3rd child was a good idea.
Now we wait for Homeland Security/Immigration approval, which we have been told could take a few weeks or a few months. Our papers are on their way home from D.C., and we have recollected the 4 rejected documents. They, along with the homestudy and the Immigration approval, will need to be sealed, although they won’t have to go to the State Department; they can simply go to the Embassy in Chicago, which Dan will probably drive down himself or we will lovingly talk family into delivering for us since documents can no longer be mailed into the Embassy.
I would have loved to have been able to travel this summer, but as with all things in the Caden’s Tale family, things will happen exactly when they are supposed to, probably at the most inconvenient time possible, and it will all be perfect.