Thursday, December 27, 2007

Relax! It's in the mail...

It's been a while, so here's a few biggies from the last 2 months. Back in the beginning of November, we submitted out dossier. From there it was off to translation for about a month. Now our translated dossier is on its way to the Kazakhstan Embassy in New York. From there, I think it heads first to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kazakhstan, then to the Ministry of Education and Science.

Next Step: Lots of waiting. It should be May or June before we travel to Kazakhstan. Okay, here's the positive spin.. Waiting until late spring or early summer is great since we won't need to bring big, bulky clothing in already crowded luggage. This also gives us pa-lenty of time to get that attic in order. Um... and finally do something with all our old photographs. Best of all, we have a lot of quality PlayMobile Castle playing to do with Jack.

In case you're curious about where Kazkahstan is, here's a good map to look at. I usually tell people it's south of Russia and West of China. I'm not sure if that's really helpful, though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dossier Docs: Round 1 Complete!

The last two weeks were a flurry of activity for us.

We got word two weeks ago that our lab results were back, the last bits we needed to schedule our medical physical. This triggered a few days of frenzied coordination, as we arranged to get a doctor, notary, the doctor's medical license, and all the related paperwork in the same office at the same time. We exchanged emails with the lab tech, the doctor, and the notary.

Finally, last Thursday, it all came together. The doctor had a wallet-sized card certifying his medical license. He was most helpful and cooperative, although it was hard not to laugh during the "neurological exam" that felt more like a cross between interpretive dance and a field sobriety test.

We scanned the final documents, and forwarded them to our adoption coordinator, and she emailed back her approval on Monday. So, today, the stack of original documents, a cover letter, and yet another breathtakingly-large check went off by Express Mail to our documentation preparer.

Next stop will be apostille, followed by translation.

I can't express enough how much a relief it was to finally complete this portion of the process. We did it all in 90 days exactly from receipt of our USCIS approval, the I-171H, not including our home study and I-600A approval time.

In hindsight, there's nothing about building the dossier that's really hard, but it is maddeningly tedious. We found that the hard part was not getting the documents (for the most part), but rather tracking and synchronizing them all so that they are dated in relatively close proximity, and still "fresh" when we submit them. Most of the documents are only good for a year from the date of issue, and the medical forms can be no more than 6 months old when they arrive in Kazakhstan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Synchronization

We've made lots of progress over the last few weeks. Bob was able to secure notarized letters from his employer, our housing office, and our bank. Laura typed up several "self-generated" required letters that we notarized this last week, along with our passports. Our agency assured us that they now have copies of our birth certificates, marriage license, and home study agency license all pending apostille. All the really hard stuff, like the home study and immigration application, is already complete. So, in short, the only thing we have left to complete our dossier are medical letters, along with a copy of our doctor's medical license. I already have a notary lined up to be there. We are only awaiting some medical lab test results prior to scheduling this final physical.

We reviewed the completed documents last night. Laura's sharp eye caught a few notary mistakes (missing year digits on dates) that I corrected today. We scanned all and submitted to our agency coordinator for an initial review.

Over the last year of working on one dossier or the other (we started with Ukraine, but switched to Kazakhstan two months ago), we have come to learn that getting the required documents really isn't that difficult. Most agencies will bend over backwards to help as soon as they hear the magic word, "adoption." However, we have come to discover that the hard part is keeping all of the documents fresh and current. Most of the documents have a life of one year from the earliest date on the document, and some have an even shorter life span. Our medical form, for example, must be oven-fresh, less than 90 days old when we submit it to our agency. Therefore, we've scheduled it to be the last we complete.

Our dossier consists of about 17 different documents, each from different sources. We are trying very hard to have them all dated within a 90 day window at the time of submission. This strategy should allow for a long life span once they make it to the destination country, and will help prevent us from being in a constant cycle of updates after we submit the dossier.

We recently met a family that adopted a pre-school boy from Kaz two years ago. By coincidence, they live only a few minutes away in a nearby town. Their son really bonded quickly with our 4 y/o son, and he seems to have adjusted incredibly well. It was very encouraging to see such success, and to hear first-hand some of what awaits us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rock * Paper * Scissors

Last night, over a cappuccino and decaf Caramel tea, Bob and I divided up the remaining self-generated paperwork. All the documents that need crazy logistical planning went to Bob, such as getting our doctor, a copy of her doctor's license, a notary, us, and our blood test results all in the same room - Phew! I'll gladly take the remaining paperwork to generate or fill out.

It seems we're on a roll with our adoption documents coming in. Today we received our 171H from the USCIS office in Frankfurt!! To us prospective adoptive parents, this is a solid step toward our child, whomever he/she will be. This one little form is the first major step in allowing us to bring a foreign born orphan of unknown identity into the US as our own child. This form was a big hairy deal to get, and took for-ev-er! It should normally take about 6-8 weeks, but due to some technical glitches at our local USCIS office, ours took over 8 months to arrive. This calls for more congratulatory cappuccinos.

The 171H took such a long time to get to us, that our fingerprint cards are rapidly expiring. We have a little time left on them, as they expire in June of 2008, but that's putting it really close. If everything goes according to my wildest dreams, we should either be in Kazakhstan then, or on our way home with our new little one by next June. I'm sure we'll have to send in a fingerprint card renewal before all is finished, though.

Well, Jack is out of bed for the third time tonight. I can't wait until I get to reassure and re-tuck *two* little ones into bed. A friend keeps saying "Are you _sure_ you want another?" every time her two kids get unruly. Yes. Truly, honestly, I do.

I'm off re-tuck and to say the magic words my father-in-law once said to my son: "Sweet Dreams of Chocolate Flying Machines. Goodnight, I Love you." If that doesn't work, I'll use the old stand-by: "I don't hear any snoring in there!!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Game On!!!

We received our FBI Background Check in the mail today, which should have taken another month to come back. It arrived a mere 20 days after we sent off the request. Wahoo!!

Prior to mailing our background request, we found a guide on kazakhadoptivefamilies.com suggesting we put "Urgent: International Adoption" on the outside of our mailer. The theory is that there is a huge pile of background requests, and the soft-hearted FBI Agents put all the adoption requests on the top. We held little faith in this simple step, but apparently the FBI is full of adoption-loving softies. Thank God!!

So now that the FBI Background Check is back, we need to power through the rest of our dossier requirements. No more slacking off and reading other Kazakh adoption blogs; we have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. The words to Jerry Reed's song "Eastbound and Down" are running through my head. :)