For the most part, gathering the needed documents for our dossier was not difficult. Our agency does not require a lot. I have a few tips (and debaucles) for any PAPs who are chipping away at their mound of paper.
1. Bind it. I labeled a binder and placed a checklist of documents needed, a calendar for 4 months and plastic sleeves for each document needed inside. I labeled each sleeve with the name of the contents it did or would contain. This helped immensely.
2. Copy (or scan) often. By the time we received our last piece of paper, I had almost everything scanned into PDF format and the copies printed using our home printer. It still took the good part of the morning to assemble the dossier, but it went together easily and in an organized fashion.
3. Be crystal clear. My doctor (and our banker and mortgage company) had never filled out paperwork for an international adoption. Write out detailed instructions for everyone who has to produce a letter for you. See below:
4. Expedite when you can.
5. Read and re-read what you need before you go. I had to get two blood tests because I did not re-read requirements before I went to the doctor's office.
6. Open a FedEx account. This made things so much easier! And, using FedEx is not as costly as I believed.
7. Guard it . . . with your life. We took the dossier with us when we went on trips. You could also keep it in a safe deposit box.
8. Keep track of birthdays. Track the age of your documents using a spreadsheet. Our agency required documents to be less than 3 months old at the time of submission so this helped me make sure everything was within that time frame.
9. Ask when licenses expire (home study agency, doctors). Agencies have different requirements for the expiration of licenses. Find out and ask your coordinator if there is a problem.
10. Ask questions on listservs and to others who are in process. This helped immensely! THANKS everyone!
A Few Ripples
Just a few random, RIDICULOUS things . . .
1. Make sure everything is notarized exactly to your state's specifications. The notary's stamp on our mortgage document did not have a BORDER around it, thus no Apostille for that document. See post written on 10/20. I don't know how I would have know that was an issue. There wasn't anything written about it in the Secretary of State's pamphlet. I guess I could have called, but I doubt that would have revealed too much more. This was not a huge deal. We just had to request the mortgage letter for a third time.
2. The state of Indiana does not Apostille birth certificates issued by the counties . . . they only certify those generated by the STATE. I don't know if I want to waste anymore virtual ink on this one. Why would the state have TWO different birth certificates?! AND, only Apostille ONE?
3. Our I171H took about 7 weeks, which wasn't all that ridiculous. But, the wait was excruciating. We had everything ready to go and all we could get from USCIS was that we were in line.
Basically, it took us 3 1/2 months to gather our paperwork - not bad.
Does anyone have any tips or experiences to share?
1 year ago