Sunday, July 4, 2010

St. Louis, State Certification, and God's Provision...

Well, we finally got our last document...the long awaited I-797 form from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department. We got it this past Wednesday in the mail two weeks early as a result of us walking in the prior week to get our fingerprinting done. With our July 22nd deadline quickly approaching, we decided it was best to make the trip to the closest branch office of the Secretary of State...downtown St. Louis. So, Thursday morning, at 6am, Camille and I, along with five in tow...headed north on Interstate 55.

We got to downtown StL around 9am, and entered the interesting labyrinth of one-way streets. One of my biggest fears about driving in downtown St. Louis is turning the wrong way onto a one-way street. happened. And there were no warning signs! I turned right onto 7th street to face a lady in a mercedes heading straight for us. I was panic-stricken. I quickly pulled right into the parking lane, and then quickly made a U-turn...even stopping everyone so we could backup some, since there wasn't enough room for Big Blue to make the U turn. It was embarrassing. But we pressed on.

We found a parking spot, and headed to the Secretary of State's office, which is located in the old original U.S. Post Office and Customs House. The building had quite a history and had its own museum. We delivered our 12 notarized documents consisting of birth certificates, criminal background checks, medical clearances, and employment verification letters, and took a stroll around downtown. One store that us country-folk got excited about finding was on the corner of 9th and Olive was a corner Schnucks, called the Culinaria. As Maddie put it, it was the neatest grocery store we had ever been in.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes, we got the call. They said our papers were done, and they had good news...9 of the 12 were in good shape. 9 out of 12? Good news? Huh? Turns out, 3 of the 12 had problems, and despite our incentive, our trip to StL didn't turn out with the success I had planned. I had every intention of getting those documents fed-ex'd to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago on Friday. Now, I have to go back and make corrections to three documents? It was frustrating. Nevertheless, we came home with a good attitude.

The next day, Friday (2 days ago), I woke up determined to get this done. We handled the problems they had described, and I was ready to mail them to the StL office. Mailing them, however, would introduce at least a week's wait, and would push the 7/22 deadline. So...I told Camille that I was headed back to St Louis. So off I go again, this time with only Maddie joining me as my co-pilot.

Before leaving, we had to pick up the corrected notarized documents, and swing by the bank for a cashier's check. You see the plan now had turned to getting these three documents notarized, and then finding a fed-ex/kinkos in St Louis and shipping them to Chicago straight from there. We would still meet our target of getting them off on Friday to Chicago.

There were some obstacles we had to deal was time. By the time we hit the road it was 1:35, and the SOS office didn't take walk-ins after 4:00. There also was the troubling sensation I had that something might still be wrong with the documents, and we waste the trip. So, before leaving, we faxed all three to the SOS office for them to check. In faith, we went ahead and left, and told them to call us if there were issues.

Now...let's fast-forward an this time, we are getting close to Perryville, an hour from home, when we get the call from the Secretary of State's office. The nice young lady informs me that they got our fax, reviewed the forms, and found that two of the three still had issues and they couldn't certify them. It felt like she punched me in the gut. So we talked for a bit, and I told her we would turn around and head home. I thanked her and wished her a good weekend, when she asked me to hold on a moment. After a few minutes, she came back to the phone and said they wanted to help us. They said to go ahead and come up and they would notarize the documents for us. And then they would certify them. The only catch was that she told me to call Holt and see if China would have an issue with a 2nd notary on the forms.

So, I called Holt International and prayed that they all hadn't left early on the Friday of 4th of July weekend. The girl I needed to speak with picked up immediately, and I laid out the story to her. She said that if they were offering that, then to go for it! China wouldn't have an issue.

So we called back the SOS office and told them we were coming and that we would be there right at 4:00, and we were not lying. We pulled into the parking garage at 3:57 right across the street, and then ran down 4 flights of stairs of the garage, across the street and up 4 more flight of stairs to the SOS office, and made it in time! PTL! They were expecting us, and helped us get our last three documents notarized and certified. It felt great.

We then needed to find a Fed-Ex/Kinkos, and to my amazement, God placed one conveniently on block east. ( The only one in downtown StL!)  So we made our way down, and started making copies. We were wrapping things up, when we looked over the Chinese Consulate instructions a final time, and found something we had missed before. We had brought the cashier's check for the authentication fee, but we had not noticed earlier that there was a $5 handling fee for mailed requests. The $5 had to be a cashier's check or money order or it would not be processed. Another obstacle! So, with 30 minutes left for the Fed-Ex Air deadline, we searched out a place that might have money orders at 5:30 pm on a Friday of holiday weekend in downtown St. Louis. Once again, God provided. One block east, was a small locally owned convenience store that sold Western Union money orders. We bought our $5 money order and ran back to Fed Ex.

With a few minutes to spare, we turned loose of our Fed Ex package headed for Chicago. Although, in the scheme of things, it was a small, petty felt like we had climbed a mountain that afternoon. It felt good! And God continued to blow me away with how the SOS office made provision for helping us, how we got there just in time, and the location of the fed ex store and the money order store. If any of those had not fell into place, we wouldn't have made it. God is GOOD!

Maddie and I headed back home tired and pleased. We stopped off in South County to celebrate with some Hot-n-Now Krispy Kreme donuts! We now await word from the Chinese Consulate. Once we get the approval from them, we can send our dossier to China, and we will end this chapter of our adoption adventure, and start the next chapter of waiting. Please join us in prayer that the papers will be processed quickly in Chicago with no issues.


1 comment:

  1. Absolutely CRAZY! I am tired after just reading this. I'm so glad you guys were so flexible and willing to whatever you had to, and that God opened every door. He is faithful!!!