It's been a while since we've blogged. We finally received our approval from Homeland Security (or US Immigration or USCIS, whichever you want to call it). They believe we are fit to be parents! It took them two months to come to that conclusion, but at least we passed.
Our next step is to go to Austin to get various documents certified. Actually, every document that has been notarized by a Texas notary must be certified by the State of Texas, stating that the notary is in fact a real person authorized to notarize in the state of Texas. So we're basically have certifications certified.
I've been a little nervous about making this trip by myself. I wasn't really sure why I was nervous, but Charlie didn't help matters. He tells me that the stretch of highway between Waco and Austin is one of the most dangerous highways in the country. So I was a little nervous. So God in his infinite wisdom decided to give me two traveling partners - Mark and Charles each got sick (cold and strep) the day before so I had to hold them out of school.
We left early this past Friday morning (6:30 I think) and headed to Austin, hoping to make it home for an afternoon nap. We walked in to the Secretary of State's office right at 10:00, only to soon find out that one of our documents is not an original, but a copy (you would only know this if you had a spy glass like the lady used). Then (and this is way too many details), it turns out that one of the notaries has recently renewed her certification using her full first name rather than her first and middle initials (which is what she used to certify our documents). How in the world are we supposed to control things like that???? Fortunately, the nice lady at the Secretary of State's office was able to correct that problem (I think she felt sorry for me and saw me starting to panic).
But the first problem with the "copy" of the original was not so easily corrected. I called Charlie (aka "my hero") at about 10:30 panicked. He immediately drove to our doctor's office to try and get the originals, but to no avail. It seems our doctor leads a very busy life and they could not guarantee that he would have time to sign a new form that day. Charlie then drives home, only to miraculously find the originals in a stack of adoption papers. Thank you God! Charlie then hops in his truck and drives 3 hours to Austin to deliver by closing time.
When I found out that Charlie was on his way, I calmed down and began to plan a fun day with the boys. The State Legislature is in session and we decided to do some home schooling at the capital after lunch.
We were having a grand time when suddenly Charles' went down hill and began to whine about how he didn't feel good (this is after they made me walk up four flights of stairs to the top of the capital building). I didn't think much about it at first because he had been sick the past day or so. But when he refused to get up from a bench and started crying and begging to go to the car, I knew something was up. He started saying, "This is the WORST day ever!" I felt his head and he was burning with fever. After pulling a sick crying kid 9 blocks, I finally found a CVS. Charles finally melted down as we walked in and fell on the floor crying and refused to get up. I yanked a bottle of motrin off the shelf and let him chug a lug right there, before I had even paid for it. (We later find out that Charles had the flu and several other kids in his class had the same thing).
I had no idea how I was going to get him back 9 blocks (uphill) to the car. Here is where I need to tell you what else was going on....
Our sweet friend Amanda Dearing (who will be traveling with us to China, with her husband Kevin) sent me this text..."Not sure where ya'll are or what you're doing, but you need to know that at 2:45 exactly God put ya'll on my heart. So I stopped and prayed for all of ya'll."
I heard my phone ding but I was at no place to stop and read the text - I was busy trying to figure out how to ride a city bus (sorry but I've never actually ridden a city bus in the United States and I didn't know how this all worked). While I'm standing on the street corner in front of CVS, I hear behind me "ding, ding". One of those bicyle drawn buggies comes pulling up behind me. I looked at the man and said, "How much?" He said he worked on tips and I said, "Get in kids, we're riding a bicycle!" Once we're riding down the road I saw a sign in the buggy that suggested a tip of $20. Unfortunately for him I only had $12 on me. The buggy fit 3 people exactly. He drove us right up to our car, at which time Charlie called and said he would be pulling up soon!
I don't know if I'm getting the stress across that I was feeling - it was STRESSFUL!! But I held it together and was calm throughout the whole thing. I never broke down or cried, even though I felt like it. Charlie drove up a few minutes later, gave me the original documents and said, "You go and I'll stay with the kids in the van."
As I'm walking back to the Secretary of State's office, I check my phone and read Amanda's text (thank you Amanda for not only listening to God's prompting, but also for letting me know - it was a huge encouragement). Then the lady tells me that the notary who signed the original form let her commission expire. It was in good standing when she signed the documents, but currently it was expired. It seems like that would not be a problem, but apparently it might be a problem. She decided to certify the form anyway, but cautioned us that the Chinese Consulate in Houston may not like it.
After all of this, I took my "now certified" documents back to the van to find Charles asleep in Charlie's lap. This is when I finally lost it. I broke down crying but really happy that we had accomplished what we set out to do!
A special mention needs to go to Mark. He was unbelievable for the whole day. He was such a trooper and had a wonderful attitude. He was helpful to me and patient with Charles. I could not have done it without him.
So after struggling through Austin rush hour traffic, we finally made it home around 9:45. So much for the afternoon nap! But.....God is good and he is the ultimate planner. If the boys had not been sick, my plan was to return by 3:00 to pick them up from school. If that had happened, I would have had the car seats and Charlie would not have been able to pick them up from school and deliver the documents to Austin. Then we would have had even more delays and likely another trip back to Austin. So thank you God for the crazy details and the stress and the kids getting sick and Charlie having to make an extra trip and us getting home so late.
Our next step is Houston - home of the Chinese Consulate General. Basically we will have the same thing done again, only by the Chinese government. And apparently they are much more strict than the state of Texas. Remember, we have one form we're really worried about. We are leaving on Sunday. Really??? Sunday??? Here we go again.....