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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting set...

OK, the news is finally getting better and better. Long story to get to this point, but here's the latest.

We heard from our agency last week; they finally had received all the information we needed from our coordinator in KZ to prepare for our trip. We have flights confirmed for October 9, arriving in Almaty, KZ at 11:50pm on Oct. 10, staying one night in Almaty and flying on to Ust-K on Oct. 11. We have confirmation that our boys are being transferred from their orphanage in Ridder to an orphanage in Ust-K for the adoption process and will arrive on October 12; we will begin our bonding visits with them as soon as we are cleared by the Ministry of Education.

Our adoption coordinator in KZ has reviewed our docs and said we only needed to update our medicals one last time, no other documents...and since we already had the new medicals in hand, that was great news. I spent time this past week getting the medicals notarized and apostilled, then sent them off to our agency to be translated. I also sent off our visa applications and photos to Washington, DC; I got a call yesterday from the courier service we used and our visas have been issued by the KZ embassy. We are expecting the overnight letter any time today which will bring our passports with brand new adoption visas back to us!

Lest you think that any of these recent milestones have been reached seamlessly, let me give you a quick review of the potholes and pitfalls we've encountered just this past week. International adoption is never easy. Assembling a dossier and all the other follow-up paperwork is an actual part-time job requiring many hours and much patience. It involves interacting with the bureaucracy of not one but two governments at the federal, state and local level and the red tape alone can totally derail the process in a heartbeat. We've cleared most of the hurdles but there are always more to face. Here are a couple of our most recent challenges complete with color commentary from the voices in my head:

Dee and Craig have the updated medicals notarized by the same notary and in the same format that all other docs have been done in. The next day, Dee takes the notarized medicals into Boston for the necessary apostille that certifies that the notary is actually a notary and the document is valid; Dee is informed that the medicals were notarized incorrectly and will need to be redone. What???? Dee explains that these docs were done in exactly this manner earlier in the summer and they were fine; the manager explains that the rules have changed and gives Dee a form with examples of the new format which also now requires the doctor to sign the medical in front of the notary. Dee closes her eyes and envisions the protracted hassle of getting two different physicians to not only redo this form that they've done 4 times before but to now ask them to do it in front of a notary. Dee sees the Oct. 9 flight to KZ taking off without them. Dee entertains fantasies of leaping the counter and throttling the said manager; fortunately, the moment passes. Dee opens her now tear-filled eyes and begins to beg...the officials ask her to please not cry...and the manager tells his assistant to go ahead with the apostille. Crisis averted...

Dee sends visa applications, passports, photos, fees etc. to courier service in Washington, DC via USPS Expressmail to ensure tracking and a signature at delivery. Dee tracks the letter and finds it was delivered on the wrong date and USPS claims that the signature was waived so there is no way to know who received the passports, etc. Dee begins hyperventilating...deep calming breath...Lamaze breathing finally comes in handy...Dee emails courier service and asks if they have the package. It's the weekend so they're not in the office, giving Dee plenty of time to fantasize about going postal down at the USPS office on Monday...finally, on Monday morning, the courier agency confirms receipt of the package and lets Dee know that they have delivered the applications to the KZ embassy. Dee begins to breath normally again...

Her faith restored in the USPS, Dee sends the notarized and apostilled medicals to the adoption agency for translation via Expressmail. Dee tracks the overnight letter and sees that it was delivered to the agency without problem so it's all good, right? Not really. The agency director emails asking where the medicals are...more hyperventilation as Dee envisions having to redo the medicals and cry for the officials in Boston again...Dee sends the agency director the Expressmail tracking info and who signed for the package in their office. Dee wonders if while she's getting the medicals redone for the 5th time, she should ask her doctor for a prescription for Valium. The medicals are ultimately found and sent for translation. Dee toasts the good news with a glass of water and an Excedrin migraine tablet.

All's well that ends well...and we hope this positive progress means that our happy ending to our third adoption is just around the corner. We know there will continue to be challenges and we're prepared for those. I'm bringing a big bottle of Excedrin migraine to KZ and Craig is packing lots of Ranitadine...so we're all set! Now where the heck is that return Expressmail package with our visas? It should have been here by noon...arrgghh!