December 7: I write a very sweet email to the Atlanta USCIS office asking if they can possibly give me an update on our I-171H form, telling them about the possibility of our medical forms running out and hoping for a favorable response.
December 9: They reply! They tell me the form will be mailed out before the weekend! And there is much rejoicing!
December 11 (Friday)
--3:00 pm: It's here! The I-171H arrives in the mail (eight weeks to the day after we were fingerprinted for it!) and I spring into action! I call all the banks in the area, hoping for just ONE person in any of these banks to be a notary in C county, so I can get the copy of the form notarized there. Finally, success!
--3:30 pm: Iain and I rush to the bank and get the form notarized. I swing back home and pick up Cory (who was napping before), and head to the C county courthouse to get everything county certified (GA is one of the few states that requires everything to be county AND state certified; documents must be certified in the county that the person who notarized them is registered in).
--4:30 pm: The boys and I arrive at the C county courthouse, park in a garage a few blocks away and book it. We arrive at 4:45 in the office, breathless. Iain says he has no more energy. I apologize to the lady at the desk for sneaking in as she's closing down and she says, "It's ok, I don't close down until five of five." I wonder if she knows that that's in ten minutes and I have twenty documents for her to certify!
--5:00 pm: We leave, onnly somewhat successfully. The lady discovered something I had not seen: four of my documents were not notarized in C county. Two were in P county, the courthouse being about 15 minutes away. The other two were in D county, which is an hour and a half away! If I had realized this, I could have done these in the eight weeks we waited for the I-171H form. I kick myself all the way home.
Saturday and Sunday: Why aren't government offices open on Saturdays and Sundays!? :) I do, however, finish the photo pages.
Sunday night we go out to eat to celebrate the completion of the dossier (I know it's not complete yet, but Sunday is kids eat free day!).
--6:45 am: the boys and I roll out the door, headed for D county. The drive there and back takes almost four hours.
--10:30 am: we're now headed toward P county. Get everything certified there.
--11:45 am: home for lunch. Put Cory down for his nap.
--1:20 pm: Iain and I head for Atlanta, all documents county certified and ready to be state certified. I stop for caffeine on the way.
--2:15 pm: it's really hard to find the right building. We walk a lot. I take pictures of Iain at the Capitol Building, inside and out.
--2:45 pm: things aren't looking good. When the woman in the Secretary of State office seems to be trying to find problems with my documents before she even looks at them, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Or maybe that's because we're 11 floors up and I can feel the building move. I give all the right answers, feeling well-prepared and hoping this will go well.
--3:15 pm: It doesn't go well. She won't accept documents from D county, nor will she speak to them on the phone when I ask. She says they knew better. I try to plead my case to no avail. Swallowing tears, I step outside with the wonderfully well-behaved Iain and call D county. They are very kind and helpful. They tell me that the state always accepts documents like this, and they don't know why she won't today. She offers to mail me the documents I need. I accept gratefully.
--4:10 pm: we're back in the car and I've had my cry. I call D county back and tell them thank you but I'll come back in tomorrow to get the new documents. The mail would take too long, and I want this dossier in this week. I dread doing this all over again. At least this time, I can skip P county; she accepted those documents.
--4:45 pm: home. Long day.
And tomorrow we'll do it all again, hopefully successfully. I'll be praying for favor, and praying that a different person handles my documents this time.
My mom reminded me that the timing on this is leading us to just the child God has chosen for us. Maybe the delay is ordained by Him to cause the dossier to arrive at exactly the right time so we will be matched with exactly the right child. I really do believe that; have thought about it often throughout this process. So I am thankful for His sovereignty. But I am sad that dossier day isn't today, as I was thinking it would be (hope deferred makes the heart sick), and really not excited about hours more of driving with two little boys, who would rather be playing (and I'd rather they be playing!).
Stay tuned... hopefully tomorrow will be part two of this saga, including the happy ending.