First of all I want to publically thank the people at Crossfit Innovations in Northport, AL for the burpee-a-thon this weekend. You guys are amazing.... my arms, legs, chest, ribs, etc. STILL feel the pain from the 163 burpees I did... I cannot IMAGINE what you who did 300+ must be feeling! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I could never have guessed how encouraging that trip to Tuscaloosa would be!!
Second - the process.... I updated our timeline. But here are more details (probably more than you want to read... but here we go)
Ronnie has been the one to deal with official documents in this process to date. He is the details person. But yesterday, I was the one to take our applications for a "no criminal history" check to ABI (Alabama Bureau of Investigations) in Montgomery. Ronnie reviewed all of our documents with me after we had them notarized last week so I at least knew which packet to give the lady. The process was a bit different than I had expected, but in about an hour, I had my papers. The last papers that I needed in order to go to the Secretary of State's office for Apostilles. I had a good friend (Samantha Hyde) with me for emotional support and organization.
I had parked a good bit away from both offices intentionally. I knew where a good parking place was. I get nervous driving in cities with one-way streets, parking issues, and buildings that aren't familiar. I also enjoy walking on nice days. So, I parked where I knew what I was doing, and we walked the 10ish blocks to ABI, and then another 5 or so blocks to the Secretary of State's office. This would stop me from being flustered from driving down a one-way street the wrong way, or missing parking places along the route, and would also let me burn some of the nervous energy in the process.
I had heard MANY stories of THIS part of the process being where mistakes get made.... I did all I could to get it right the first time.
We then walked to the Secretary of State's office, found the right door (thankfully) and finally, (app $300 later) had the packet all together!!!!
Another friend picked us up there and took us back to our car. My heart felt lighter immediately. Samantha and I sat together in the car and ordered the documents - two copies of this, one copy of that, three copies of this.... etc. We reviewed the packet three times to be sure EVERYTHING was exact. Every apostille matches the notary, every date is correct, every name is spelled EXACTLY right.
We enjoyed some Dreamland and a short visit to the river just to breathe for a minute and then headed to Bridgestone to leave that precious packet with the people that are [currently] taking it to Ukraine! WOW!!!! Our dossier (minus one form) is headed to the translator!!!!
So, this morning we got up early (again) and headed to USCIS in Birmingham. This time Ronnie had to be present as well. Our Biometrics appointment date is not for a couple of weeks, but we wanted to see if we could get in early. AND WE DID! The USCIS man got us on the list and 30 minutes later our biometrics were complete!!! WOW! That is the last appointment we have until we are in Ukraine! Everything else is "wait - and mail - and wait - and mail" The results of this today will be the final form for our dossier. The paperchase is almost complete (of course, barring any mistakes.... )
I never expected us to be here, now. We are 62 days into the process, our documentation is one form and translation away from being complete. We are 43% funded with some big fundraisers on the horizon. We have had amazing opportunities to talk with Lena lately and although we miss her horribly, we can see the process moving and that helps./
Every day is one day closer to being reunited with our daughter. Every step makes that feel less like an abstract idea, and more real.
Finally, please stay up to date on our fundraisers! We are amazed at how far we have come.... but we still have a ways to go! Pray about how you can help, and then DO IT :)
Praise be to God who has orchestrated EVERYTHING so far. And although we know there are still some big steps between here and there.... He has never lost control. Praise Him!