February 28 is the two year anniversary of the day I turned in my dossier to adopt my beautiful girl. In the adoption world, a dossier is a packet of papers that you must compile in order to begin the adoption process. This includes things like inspections of your home, driver's records, physician reports, social worker reports, recommendations, birth certificates, marriage certificates, water inspections, fire inspections, fingerprint clearances... This list goes on and on and on. For each country this list varies, but it is a long list of very specific paperwork you must compile.
For a Guatemala adoption, each piece of required paperwork also had to be notarized and then authenticated at the county it was created in, then taken to the state house and certified that the notary is a certified notary, and then sent to the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington D.C. for their seal. Let me say again, this had to be done for each document. So say, you were born in another state (I was) you would have to get a notarized copy of your birth certificate and then send it to that state's state house for certification and then get it back to send to the Guatemalan Embassy. And say, your documents are notarized in more than one county in your state (mine were), you then have to go to each of those county land offices to get your document authenticated before taking it to the state house. And say, when you take your documents to the state house, that some thing is wrong with a document (that happened too) so you have to do it over again. And for one more example, say the adoption is taking longer than the federal government gives you for how long your fingerprint documentation is good, so you have to go to the federal building in your state and have you finger prints taken again. If you look at all of these instances, you get a glimpse of what it is like to compile a dossier. (Oh yeah, and each of these steps of the way you are charged for these services.)
In Guatemala, we were also told that the government is extremely nit picking when it comes to making sure the papers are not bent, that the dates on everything matched up, that things were only in black ink, and that list went on and on. So it was really hard to hand these papers to people like the county land office staff, who do their jobs just fine, but don't realize that their fingerprints or smudges or bending of the pages mean that effects my adoption timeline if Guatemala rejects that paper and it has to be redone. As a non-detail oriented person, this process forced me into paying very close attention to the details. I had each document in a plastic sleeve in a big binder and when I turned it in and the adoption staff member took each document out to check it to make sure it was complete, I literally cringed as I watched her handle each of my documents. It was like those documents were my baby. When people say they are "paper pregnant" now you have more of an idea of what they mean.
So on this day, after 6 months of paper chasing, I submitted my dossier and started the wait for my child. Little did I know then , that I'd have to wait until May before I got my referral (which means matched with a baby) and got to see her beautiful face for the first time. And I didn't know then that it wouldn't be until the following May that I'd get to bring her home.
5 weeks ago