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Panic and Paperwork

5 March 2018

Friday evening I got an email and I almost threw in the towel.



I thought the paperwork was almost over.

We have gathered, created and recreated, notarized and re-notarized I don’t know how many pieces of paper. They are represented in four tabs on a spreadsheet, and they are making my 13-slot accordion folder difficult to close.

I have filled out online forms, made online payments, drove to government offices first thing on Monday morning (with a 5 year old), been sent away from government offices, returned to government offices, arranged for all the right people to assemble at the right government office to be insulted by the government employees who work there. I have shamelessly imposed on a lot of kind friends and bosses and administrative assistants to get paperwork created, signed, and notarized.

Our coordinator at AWAA, and our consultant at CAC, have fielded dozens of emails with links and attachments to review and revise and and approve all the paperwork.

It’s been six months of paperwork, and I thought it was almost over.

Not that the whole process is almost over, of course. There’s paperwork waiting to be submitted yet, and there the waaaiiiting for a referral.

But the stacks of paperwork have just been waiting for their turn to be mailed. 

Two Steps Forward …

Tuesday morning we got up at 5:30 so we could make our fingerprinting appointment for Immigration.

This is the second pile in the snowballing paperwork process. First was the home study, then that paperwork gets rolled into the paperwork for Immigration, and then the home study and the Immigration approval (*fingers crossed*) get rolled into the dossier paperwork for China.



With the fingerprinting done, Immigration finishes reviewing our application and (*fingers crossed*) mails us our approval forms.

Since I’m doing my best to stay on the relatively-fast track (because there just is no fast track), I want to have the next thing ready. I did it on the previous lap: the Immigration envelope was addressed and stuffed, just waiting for the home study. And when we got the home study in the mail, the Immigration paperwork was Express Mailed the next day.

Let’s do that again, eh?

All of the other dossier paperwork has been collected, ordered, filed, and approved by our family coordinator. It’s just needs to be stacked in an envelope, right?

Friday morning I sent her an email (Mindy will have an extra crown in heaven for dealing with all my emails and questions) about how to make sure the next runner is poised to receive the baton. I told her we’d been fingerprinted (again). Did she want to review the forms a second time? Would she review it in-office (because I mail it to her and she sends it to China)?

She wrote me back during the workday, of course, which means I got it Friday night.

As far as your next steps go, you will want to start working on getting your dossier documents certified and authenticated. Looking at my records, your oldest dossier document is Timothy’s birth certificate, which was issued on September 27th. You will want to make sure that all of your dossier documents get through the certification and authenticated process before they turn 6 months old, which for Timothy’s birth certificate would be March 27th.

Say again?

Certification and Authentication

knew that this was not unfamiliar information to me because of any neglect of hers, so I started digging through digital paperwork from October.



Yup. PDF #6 in that initial “how to dossier” email is all about how to get forms and paperwork certified and authenticated.

And while that phrase just rolls off the tongue—certified and authenticatedit is actually two different processes that require two different forms and take place in two different offices.

Almost all of the paperwork has to be first certified by the Secretary of State. It is, essentially, the state signing off on the notary—that they are, in fact, Illinois notaries in good standing, etc.


Then the paperwork, which has now been signed, notarized, and certified, needs to go to the Chinese embassy so they can review and approve the certifications before it all goes overseas.

Just typing it all out makes me want to cry.

‘Cause, I mean, how do we know we can trust the staff at the Secretary of State’s office? Shouldn’t we have her signature notarized too? And then we would need to verify that notary, and then …

And the Chinese embassy will not authenticate a document more than six months old.

Which means that my early efforts to start collecting paperwork, because I forgot about this step/didn’t realize that time limit existed, are now making my life more difficult. Because I started collecting paperwork right away. We sent in contracts, and I knew I would need a few basic things for starters, so I requested new, certified copies of birth certificates. Timothy’s was processed and dated at the end of September.

The Illinois Secretary of State website says, “7 to 10 business days” for certification of documents. Plus a day or two for mailing, if I overnight them, is still up to 11 or 12 business days.

I don’t have 12 business days left.



So yours truly will be driving to State Street first thing this morning, or tomorrow if I wait to hear back from our Coordinator about this. They will certify documents in the office while you wait, on a first-come-first-served basis.

And I will Express Mail one to the Wisconsin Secretary of State, because one was notarized in Wisconsin. So it has to go there.

And then I will Express Mail it all to — oh, no I won’t. I will hire a courier service, because the embassy in Chicago only accepts authentication paperwork via certified courier service.

And I will pray it all gets to where it needs to be in time.

A Thousand Old Questions

I only thought about throwing in the towel for a fraction of a second, of course.

Someone made a comment about being in for a lot of money already, which is true. But quitting now would also save us even more than we’ve already spent. So that’s not much incentive to push forward yet.

And, really, it never will be. The money was never a deciding factor in this. How could it be? We knew it would be expensive, but we also know that if God says, “Go,” He will do what we cannot do.

But it did drudge up a thousand questions I thought I had put to rest in my spirit.

Why does this have to be so difficult? Why is this system so broken? Why is there so much money involved? Why does it feel like the most scandalous bait-and-switch in history?

But this is long. So I’ll share my response to those questions next time.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because there’s a little boy who is waiting for me. I said I was ready to start kicking down doors to bring him home, and now I get to.

“What Can I Do?”

If we ever don’t say it enough, I’m sorry, but we are so humbled and honored and in awe of the amazing support of our community. I know I can type that question in a big font because I hear it all the time, and I don’t take it for granted.

  • Pray for this paperwork process. Pray that I can get certifications today or tomorrow in the Secretary’s office. Pray it all gets to the embassy in time.
  • Share the MudLOVE campaign. We have 11 days left! We met our goal, but there’s no cap on the amount we can raise. Thank you for your purchases and gifts through this campaign. If you can’t purchase or give, or if you already have, we’d be thankful if you shared it with your socials one more time this week.
  • Pray for the grant applications. We have several applications submitted that will be considered this month. Pray for favor.
  • Pray for our boy and his Chinese community. Thank you for keeping him in your prayers. Pray that Holy Spirit guards his heart and mind, for health and strength and peace. Pray for his current caretakers: that they would do their work in love and honesty and truth. Pray for his biological family; we may never know the circumstances, but I’m convinced there are few possibilities that include a biological mother who is not heartbroken at leaving her baby son behind.

Love and hugs, fam. Thanks for going on this adventure with us.

Update: We Did It

It was a looong day, but we did it:

Read the short version on IG.


Photo creds:

Lachlan Donald
Samuel Zeller
Harry Sandhu

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 March 2018 1:11 PM

    Hang in there, that child needs you!

    • Lex permalink*
      5 March 2018 11:13 PM

      Thanks, Brooke. And thanks for sharing your story with the world.

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