This post will only be interesting to those who like a good mystery that ends with the hero unraveling the injustices of the world by spending endless hours hunched over a mountain of paperwork, coffee to his left, heart skipping a beat as he discovers the crime will soon be solved by unravelling a discrepancy between 2 dueling documents... yup, a real thriller!
I think I may create a bumper sticker that says: I documents!
The truth is, there is a lot of paperwork, and though most of it is simple enough, there are snags along the way. We were promised to expect said "snags", and that promise has delivered. However, as it is all par for the course, we are still hanging in there with great patience and calm... usually.
For those who like the paper trail:
We have completed 95% of our paperwork. We chased down signatures, had everything notarized, drove to Augusta to have each one state sealed (little cash register sounds just rang in my head), and sent everything to Miami where our agency is located. That 95% complete dossier (word for collection of papers) have been SENT TO GUATEMALA to be translated!! I love this fact. It is amazing to me. Victory No. 1!
What of this 5% that remains incomplete?!!? Oh. My.
One unsuspecting document has proven to be the bein of my existence: Keith's employment reference. Such an innocent little piece of paper in theory. It went something like this:
Keith requested the letter in February. After several gentle reminders to HR, the letter arrived in late March. Because it was signed and notarized out of state, we had to have it sealed (stay with me) out of state, only we sent it to the wrong state (misinformed by agency), so it was sent back, then sent to the correct state, sealed, sent back, and is sitting in my office... Victory No. 2. (Got a map: North Carolina, Maine, Florida, Maine, Georgia, Maine, soon to Florida, then Guatemala... what does that translate to in frequent flier miles?!?!?! )
The more predictably difficult document involves immigration stuff. We filed the I600-A with the Department of Homeland Security. We were then sent a date to be fingerprinted. We were disappointed with the date, so we walked into DHS and they allowed us to do them right then and there... Victory No. 3! Beginning the day after fingerprinting, in April, we have run to the mailbox in anticipation of receiving the 171-H. (This is the birthchild of the I600-A and fingerprinting.) After more than 2 weeks, the day came. The DHS stamp was winking at me from its place in the top left corner of the envelope... which felt smaller than I had imagined. I ran (it's true) to my neighbor's with mail in hand, needing to have someone to share the moment with. I think I may have danced a little in her driveway (right, Sally?). ANYWAY, as you are anticipating, it was not the 171-H, it was a notice to tell us that there was an error and all the steps we would need to take to remedy this error. Crushing.
As is my life, I made a million phone calls... Keith, Mom, case worker, agency, Bobbi... and came to the decision that when working with DHS it is best to go face-to-face. Keith met me at the office the following day. While waiting for him, I chatted with my favorite security fella about the illustrations he was drawing for the children's book he is writing. (Everyone has a story.) Keith came, we chatted with the friendly DHS lady, gave her our letter, and were promised our form "soon". Victory...sort of.
Finally, to round out or 5%... we need a family picture to submit with the dossier. As I have been told by more than one person, this should be the easiest part of this whole deal. BUT, ask anyone who knows me, I loathe having my picture taken. It physically pains me, which may explain why I spend so much time on the other end of the camera. Anyway, we have made a promise to snap that pic on the day the 171-H arrives. I figure we will be all smiles, so it seems fitting!
While writing these details, it needs to be said, that my heart has not forgotten that each of these little headaches, and each mini victory, are all part of paper paved path that leads us to our baby. Love, love, love.
And, while writing this, it is already 80 degrees (yay!) and we need to hit the beach!!
My next post will be simply stated: 171-H has arrived.
Until then, much love.