Despite my moping, we have managed to make significant progress. Our I800 applications, along with supporting documentation and fee, were received at the Texas facility on March 10th. Unfortunately, there they sat until March 26th when they were finally mailed to the Hague Office in Missouri for processing.
On March 22nd, I received an e-mail from Toni containing the girls' visa pictures! Every time I need a good laugh, I pull these up on my computer! My sweet little ladybugs look like little convicts and I just can't help but laugh every time I see them!
On the evening of March 24th, while I was at the library gathering books for the following week's preschool lesson plans, I received a frantic call from my husband. Evan had fallen, face first, off of the couch and Richard was afraid he had broken his leg. I rushed home, came to the same conclusion, gathered Evan up and headed to the ER where we were immediately taken back to a room. Xrays confirmed our suspicions. Evan's right femur had snapped like a match upon impact. He was admitted to the hospital that evening with plans for surgery the following day. Due to his age and the nature of the fracture, the orthopedic surgeons made the decision to place him in a spica cast (a cast that goes from mid-chest all the way down his right leg) instead of doing surgery, so, on the evening of March 25th, Evan was taken into the operating room and, under general anesthesia, his leg was set and he was casted. He was released from the hospital on March 26th with an estimated time of 6-8 weeks in the cast.
When we returned from Philadelphia, we also learned that we had received our I800 approvals on March 31st. One step closer!
On April 3rd, Evan had a follow-up appointment with his orthopedic surgeon. His xrays revealed his leg to be healing quickly and properly and we were given the good news that the cast would likely be removed at his next appointment (May 3rd), a full week ahead of schedule. For any of you who have experienced the joys of a spica cast, you will know that this news brought with it MUCH rejoicing!
On April 6th our I800 approvals were cabled from the National Visa Center to the US Embassy in Sofia.
On April 7th, all five kids and I took a little "field trip" around the great state of Ohio to finish up the last of the adoption paperwork. We started at the Greene County Courthouse in Xenia, Ohio where we received county certifications (the "extra step" required in some states to confirm that the notary who notarized your documents is, in fact, a notary).
From there we traveled to the Madison County Courthouse in London, Ohio to county certify our updated police clearances.
After this stop we took a quick break to enjoy lunch at Wendy's where we enjoyed the normal stares and proclamations of awe and wonder from our onlookers (we are quite a spectacle, I admit)! After lunch we traveled to the Secretary of State's office in Columbus, Ohio where all of our documents received apostilles (the Secretary of State's certification that the Clerk of Courts, who certified that the notary is, in fact, a notary, is in, fact the Clerk of Courts in said county. . confusing and slightly redundant, no!?).
Losing focus! Standing outside the Secretary of State's Office! Have I mentioned how AMAZING my kids are for allowing me to drag them around the state on adoption-related errands!?! And that they even profess to love it!?Once the apostilles were complete, we made our way to Fairborn, Ohio where we stopped at our friendly UPS Store and mailed said documents to Bulgaria, after which we all breathed a sigh of relief as we realized that our days of signing, notarizing, certifying and apostilling documents for this adoption had (hopefully) come to a close!
On April 8th, our Bulgarian attorney went to the US Embassy in Sofia to complete the provisional filing of the visa's and today (April 12th) the Embassy issued our Article 5 letter and our remaining documents arrived in Bulgaria (a few days late and few gray hairs later). Tomorrow our documents will be translated and on Wednesday they begin the authentication process. As long as things go according to plan (which, of course they won't, simply because I said that ;-)), our authenticated documents should be submitted to the MOJ on Monday, April 19th.
From there we must obtain two signatures at the MOJ in order for our documents to be released to the court. The first signature is of the MOJ's attorney. The second signature is from the Minister herself. There is no time line for this step in the process. We are, however, praying that we will obtain those signatures and that our documents will be released to the court by a very specific date (April 28th), for a very important reason (I will explain later). The chance is slim, but it does exist. If you could remember this in your prayers we would be deeply grateful.
Once the signatures are obtained our documents will be released to the court where we will be given a reference number and will be assigned a judge. Please pray that we are assigned an adoption-friendly judge who will process our case quickly and without request for further documentation (there should be no need, but this is up to the individual judge). Once we are given a reference number and assigned a judge we will receive a court date.
As you can see, at this point, this process is entirely out of our hands. Fortunately, we know that the hand of the Lord is the one that is, and always has been, guiding this process and we trust completely that all will work according to His plan and in His time.