We had, at last, collected all of our paperwork for our China dossier. We had received that last piece of paper that we had been waiting for, so it was time to get all the documents county-certified and state-certified. And rather than waiting on pins and needles for the items to go through the mail and come back to us, we decided that I would take the day off work and take the documents where they needed to go.
So, I began at the county courthouse in Wooster. I arrived just a few minutes after 8 a.m., went through security and made my way to the Clerk of Courts office. Behind the counter was a young man I knew from our therapy dog group - well, hello there! When I told him that I needed the documents county-certified, he knew exactly what to do, and it only took him about 15 minutes or so to certify the large pile of papers that I had handed him. When he finished and told me that it would be $3, I paused for a moment. $3 each? I asked him. (which was what I had expected to pay) No, he said. Just $3.
I was speechless! Wow - could it be? As the saying goes: never look a gift horse in the mouth! So, I wrote out the check for $3, thanked him profusely and walked out to the van on a cloud! The day was off to a great start! I called Brian to let him know that my journey had started with a wonderful, unexpected blessing!
Then came the trek to Columbus, our state capital. It's not that long of a trip, perhaps 1 1/2 to 2 hours. There is construction along the way - always! - but I still made it there before 11 a.m. I had scouted out parking garages online the day before and had found one only a block away from the Secretary of State's office for a very reasonable rate of $3-$4 for an hour. I found it without any problems, parked way up on the 5th level and found my way back out to the street. The office building where the Secretary of State's office was located was one of those where you had to check in at a main desk in the lobby and receive a visitor's pass. I felt like I was on a TV show - I'd never been in a building like that before! LOL! (hick from the sticks... that's me) Everyone was very friendly and helpful. The man who took my stack of documents into the back office looked like he worked at a loading dock rather than in a government officials' office, but I'm assuming it was dress-down Friday, so I forgave him. A long half hour later, he reemerged with all 34 of our documents stamped and approved. I paid full price here - no bulk discounts or anything. Sad.
Once I got back to the van in the parking garage, being the almost-OCD person that I am, I meticulously went through each of the documents and checked them off my checklist, making sure that they had everything they needed attached to them. I really didn't want to make another trip like this, if something were missed! Thankfully, everything was in order, and I eventually found my way to the exit of the parking garage - it seems like you're not getting anywhere when you're going round and round in a parking garage, you know? Anyway, I was next in line to check out, and the car in front of me stopped. A lady got out and told me politely that she had to work on the machine. If I would drive through the next lane, she would swipe me out. I thanked her and maneuvered into the other exit lane; she swiped her card, and the gate went up. I began to get in my wallet for some money to pay her, and she waved her hands. No, no, she said. Are you sure? Yes, Happy Friday, she replied! Wow! Another unexpected blessing along the way! (Many thanks to our wonderful God who, I am sure, orchestrated at least some of this!)
So, then I was on my way to the adoption agency in Strongsville - a 2-hour drive at least. Should I stop and get something to eat along the way? Should I wait until I get there? I opted to stop part way there, and I frugally ordered off the value menu at a fast food restaurant. When I arrived at the agency, our consultant was there to greet me, all smiles. She looked through all the documents, as well, making sure everything was in order. It was - yay!!! Then she introduced me to the agency's representative that travels with the families when they go to China. He was very pleasant, and we jokingly talked about making travel arrangements right then, so we could bring a little boy home! Our consultant made copies of our paperwork for me and then she showed me the "wall of hope". Our clipboard is now on the China wall, and will soon be moving over to the section where the registered families' clipboards are. Most of the families in that section had referrals already, and she told me that it is constantly changing - one clipboard goes on, four or five come off because they've brought their child home. It was very encouraging!
I had to make a side trip over to Hudson to pick up some food for the dogs, and then I was headed back home. But, since I knew we were going to be away all weekend, I stopped to get groceries on my way home as well. I don't usually rush through my grocery shopping, but this time I did. I was exhausted, and I just wanted to go home.
315 miles and 10 hours later, I finally made it back home! What a trip, what a day! But, I'm hoping that - someday soon - it will be so worth it, when I can write a blog to say that we've brought our little boy home!