This month finds us wrapping up our dossier paperwork. We received our approval from USCIS on February 3. The time from mailing the I600A application to approval was 9 weeks. Also at the start of February we requested that our agency send us some paperwork needed for our dossier, and those papers arrived February 17. While we were waiting for the papers, we redid a few things that weren't notarized quite right. Then when the last papers arrived, we compiled the dossier and sent in a copy to our agency for a final check. We got the go-ahead on February 23, and today we went to Fed-Ex, made three copies of everything, and sent all our original paperwork to Washington DC to be authenticated. We're using an expediter, so we should get the authentications from both the Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy within 3 business days of receipt.
We have been in this process for about seven months now, but we're almost done! It's taken us a long time to get here, mostly because I didn't understand when we started that we could be working on several things simultaneously. Our homestudy agency always referred to finishing the homestudy and then "handing us off" to the next agency to do our dossier, so I didn't realize I could have started on the dossier while the homestudy was still being written. The dossier instructions had sequential steps, so I didn't think to work on several parts at once. So to anyone out there who is just starting out: if you are in a rush, know that you can multi-task.
But really the delays have been a blessing in disguise (note: this is the first and only time I will use the word "blessing" on my blog). These extra months have allowed us to gain from the wisdom of parents who have been there. Especially in December and January there were some amazing conversations about ethics on the online forums. I think if we'd gotten everything sent off and then started learning about these ethical issues, we might have felt really disappointed. Instead we are already prepared for the fact that submitting our dossier will likely not be the last paperwork we do. Nothing's been decided yet, but we are thinking seriously about making some changes.
If all goes well, my next post should be about our authenticated dossier being accepted by our agency.