On Friday, we received the long-awaited USCIS approval form 171-H. You know that any letter starting with "It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan (...) The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would like to congratulate you on your approval" is pretty much going to make your day. It seems like ever since we started this adoption process, we were working feverishly to get all the documents in place to file our petition with USCIS - and to finally receive their approval was the last missing piece for our dossier. With that in place, we made an early stop at the notary on Monday morning to have the last few documents notarized. Then Bjorn took the entire dossier on a little road trip to the MN State Department in St. Paul, where we had it state-authenticated. From there, it went straight to FedEx, where we had it over-nighted to Washington, DC. There, we've employed a courier service who will hand-deliver our dossier to the Department of State for further authentication, and then to the Ethiopian Embassy for one more seal of approval. Once that is all done, it will be over-nighted to our Adoption Agency for the next shipment to Ethiopia. Aaaahhh!!
While all this was happening, we were trying to finalize the payment of our large (read: L-A-R-G-E!) adoption fee, which is due with the submission of our dossier, and that took some more hard work - but it's done! For now, anyways ;)!
Bjorn and I were trying to estimate how many hours we've spent on the preparation of the dossier, and we can't even guess. Maybe a hundred? It literally contains every morsel of information about us, from our birth certificate to medical clearance letters to bank statements. To have all these important documents finally out of our hands is a little nerve-wrecking, to say the least. At the same time, when I drove home from work tonight, I felt a huge sense of relief, and all I wanted to do was sit in the bath tub with a bottle of wine and just relax :) I'm just realizing now how much tension and anxiety this whole dossier-preparation "part-time job" has caused me, and it feels so good to be done. Of course, what comes after the submission of our dossier is the real wait, and for that I'm not excited. However, we just came one gigantic step closer to being able to bring out little guy home, and for that I am thrilled!