Thursday, April 28, 2011

Notarization explanation...

There isn't really any news, we are waiting on a few documents before we can move forward.

I am a pretty organized person, and count it an honor and a blessing to already have had several opportunities to help other newbie adoptive parents with their paper chase questions. On several occasions these last few weeks I have been asked how to keep it straight which forms and documents need to be notarized in what way. I decided to post my answer here, hoping it will help other adoptive parents in the future.

We were blessed not to have to pay for notarization because a wonderful woman at our church did it for free. I am also told that some banks have notaries on staff who will help for free. Just make sure their commission/stamp doesn't expire for at least a year.

With as many forms and documents as we have to collect, it's easy to loose track of what is what and which form needs what kind of stamp. I sorted everything into piles, and then gave each pile a slot in my accordion folder. Here's the breakdown for all the docs:

Certified copies (that's what you call it when you request them, and they certify them in the office they make them at):
-Birth Certificates for you and your husband
-Marriage certificate

Color copy:
- you passports. This was tricky, since Kinkos etc is not legally able to make a color copy. We scanned ours at a friend's house and then made a color print.

Notarized Copy of Original (see the form for that in your packet):
-of your insurance cards
-of your I-171H form (since you travel with your original)

Notarized and signed by wife + hubby (This means you wait to sign until you are in front of the notary. The notary stamp must be good for 12 months. Make sure the notary's date matches yours.):
-Dossier cover sheet (later gets authenticated too)
-Application letter (to MOWCYA)
-Financial Statement
-Power of Attorney (later gets state certified)
-Letter of non-employment (if you stay at home with the kids... there's a template in the Dossier Guidelines)

Notarized and signed by others:
-Physical exam forms
-Doctors letters (see template in Dossier Guidelines)
-Proof of Medical insurance (e.g. a letter by your or your husband's employer that states that as of the adoption being finalized, your adopted child will be covered by medical insurance etc... there's a template in the Dossier Guidelines file)
-Letter of Employment (see template in Dossier Guidelines)
-Letters of Reference (Dossier) ...the reference forms for the HS do not need to be notarized
-Police reports (every State handles this differently, your SW will tell you how to get yours. We had to do an online check through the police department, then fax them a form with our credit card info, and they then sent us a notarized letter stating that there is no record of any unlawful activity etc)
-Proof of life insurance. We had to call our company to request a letter that states our proof of life insurance, and then had to actually re-request them, because the stamp on the first set of letters only lasted until this May!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Friday, April 8, 2011

... Olympic paperchasing, anyone?

A lot has been happening in the world of Ethiopian Adoption these past weeks. MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) has turned into MOWCYA (Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs), there has been much talk about just how many recommendation letters (necessary to pass court in ET) MOWCYA will write per day, and some other things that may or may not change about the process. You can read more about our agency's conference call concerning findings of the DOS and the USCIS in conversation with the ET government here.
Amazingly, I don't feel worried. We know that God led us to pursue this adoption in His right timing, and we are confident that He will unite us with our daughter in His perfect timing, too. Whether there are delays or not is outside of our realm of influence, so there isn't much point in getting worked up about it.

It has been about 3 weeks since we first started the grand paper chase, and we are almost DONE getting everything together from our end! We are collecting the documents and forms for our home study and our dossier in parallel, since a lot of them are the same. 3-6 months to get everything? PSCHAH!

-We got Ben's and Katie's birth certificates in the mail
-We got our marriage certificate in the mail
-Katie had her adoption physical, which included the nurse taking about 5 gallons of blood. Well not quite. But there were a lot of tests. I have it on good authority now that I neither have TB, Hep B, Hep C, HIV, or any other communicable diseases. I also weigh 4lbs less than I did before getting pregnant with Sean. Oops. Time to up my caloric intake even more. That's what I get for nursing a 20lb baby every 3 hours.
-Ben has his physical next week
-the proof of health insurance letter and the employment letter Ben's HR wrote has been approved, in spite of their weird vague wording (heaven forbid they make any statement about future employment or income)
-We made color copies of our passports - did you know that Kinkos won't do it because it's not technically legal? We had to scan them at a friend's house and then print them, since this is a requirement for the dossier.
-A wonderful and generous woman at our church notarized all our documents and forms for free!
-Our proof of life insurance is ordered and on its way here.
-We had our first home study meeting with our Social Worker. It went well.

Now we just need to wait for the reference forms and recommendation letters. Once the home study is complete, we take the paper chase to the next level: sending in our I-600A to the USCIS to apply for our I-171H which gives us permission to adopt an orphan from abroad.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but there IS apparently a good use for by somewhat obsessive attention to detail. The huge list of documents needed for the home study and the dossier looked overwhelming at first, but going at it methodically, one step at a time, really made it quite easy. I would be happy to help other families build their dossier, since it seems this is something I am good at.

We also brought home a stack of books from the library. Some are recommended readings from our social worker, some are travel guides to Ethiopia, some are some random other books about Ethiopia, Adoption, Transracial adoption, and Bonding with an adopted child. I will try to give reviews on the ones that are worth reading.

I have also enjoyed reading a bunch of adoption blogs. Seeing those sweet faces of sons and daughters united with their families makes me all the more eager to meet and bring home our little girl.

~Right now we are in the "hurry up" phase... very soon we will find ourselves in the "WAIT, wait, wait" phase. While we are wait wait waiting, some very BIG things will be happening in the lives of our daughter and her birth family. I am praying for guidance, and comfort for them. It is hard to pray for something of which I know the end-point. Whatever will happen, results in us bringing our daughter home. I don't want this "whatever" to be painful, terrible, traumatizing. God knows what he is doing, and HE will hold his hand over our little girl and her family.