Monday, January 28, 2013

Finger Printing Saga

Last Friday five members of our family went in to get our fingerprints taken and sent in to the FBI for a background check.  This was an amazing experience.

First let me tell you the relatively difficult preparation for getting this done.  There is paperwork to fill out for the background check.  These have to be notarized   Then there is the money order to be secured, made out to the Treasury of the United States.  Then you have to determine where and when to get the finger printing done.

Here's how we accomplished this:

The day before we planned to head in to get the fingerprinting done, Esther had an appointment for her orthotics, so I emptied our jar that says "Bring Her Home" into a zip lock baggies.  I took that to the grocery store after her appointment and got cash for all the change.  Then I took that to the bank and used it to get the money order for the FBI background checks ($18 per person).  I even had some extra money, which I deposited into our bank account to help cover the fingerprinting charges ($20/person).

We found out that the cities in our area had a waiting list of at least 2 weeks for a fingerprinting appointment, so that meant going to the sheriff's office.  They only do fingerprinting Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon.  We also found out that due to recent threats to the current gun safety laws, there is great demand for the concealed pistol permits, and these require finger printing.  We were told that people were arriving 2 hours early in order to secure a place in line - they only process 25 people per session.

So we made plans.  We set up an appointment to get the documents notarized  and both Daryl and Jonathan had to get most of the day off from work.   We tried to plan this so that we could be at the sheriff's office around 10:30 - 2 1/2 hours before it opened for finger printing, as rescheduling just wasn't a good option!

As we were leaving the house, I suddenly realized that Rebekah did not have any photo ID!  She was working on getting a permit, but she didn't have one yet!  ACK!  I frantically checked the "wait time" at the DOL and found that Thursdays they didn't open until 9:30 - it was just after 9 am, so we could squeeze this in and possibly make it early to the sheriff's office, but it would take a miracle.  So I quickly grabbed her birth certificate and her social security card (just in case, but I didn't think we needed that).  We called Jonathan and Daryl and told them to meet us at the DOL instead.  Jonathan arrived before us and secured a place in line.

When we arrived at the DOL the doors had been opened, and Jonathan was about 5 people from the front of the line.  We took his place and he headed over to our church with Jessica to start the notarization process with Daryl.

After getting our number, I decided to make things go as smoothly as possible and began to write out the check, but before I could even write out the check, they called our number!  We were in and out of the DOL in under 10 minutes!  THAT is a Miracle!

We headed over to church and arrived just as they were ready for the next signature.  We got that done and headed to the sheriff's office.  After messing around with paying for parking, we headed in...feeling mildly panicky that we had not gotten there soon enough (even though it was only 10:15!).

Much to my relief, there was only one person ahead of us in line!  We even got chairs to sit on, indoors!  We had done it!  What a relief.

Now it was time to wait....2 1/2 long hours.  But is was an amazing experience.  By 11:45 or so, the 25 people were all there.  It was like a little community forum.  The banter between a few of the people was fun to listen to - tales of military service, hunting adventures and comparing scars/wound stories seemed endless!

Finally it was time - we got the cards, paid the fees, filled them out and then we were called back one by one.  It was a very slick process.  It took a while - mostly as I filled out most of the papers, but we were out of there by 2:30.  We headed right across the street to mail the fingerprints to the FBI.

We were done!  We accomplished what we needed to do.  Getting the background check reports back will take 8 - 10 weeks.  This is the one step that can hold up completing a home study.  But we now have this behind us.

What's next?

We have physicals scheduled for this Friday and we need to get a letter from our veterinarian about Jessica's dog's temperament.  I have send in requests for the two missing birth certificates.  I have a few papers that I have finally gotten completed, plus our tax return copy, that need to be sent in as well.  Once I have the birth certificates and vet letter, I'll have all the documents ready to send in that need to be done for the home study  (the physician's reports are send directly from the doctor's office).  I'm hoping to be able to send these papers in before the end of the week.

The next big step in the home study process is to have the "visits."  That means that we have our social worker come to our home to see if our home is safe for a child.  We have some work to do for this (like securing all our medicines in a locked cupboard and installing carbon monoxide detectors on each floor, for example).  We hope to have the first visit sometime in February.  I have read that they do 4 visits.  These visits also include interviews with family members.

One BIG step we are taking this week is to submit our commitment papers and fees to the adoption agency. This will mean sending some paperwork to the country that we are hoping to adopt from, requesting a specific child.  If our paperwork if approved, we will be officially committed to this child, and he/she will not be available for adoption outside of her country while we pursue adopting him/her.  He/she could still be adopted by a family from her country during this time though.

Today I added a "Chip In" box in the right hand column here.  We had our tax appointment last Friday, and while we are getting a substantial tax return, it is not enough to cover the cost of the home study, the commitment fee AND the cost of submitting out dossier. Most grants are not available until after you have submitted your dossier and it has been accepted by the country you are adopting from.  Their acceptance results in an invitation to travel to meet your child.  This is when most grants become available to meet the costs of the adoption and the traveling costs.  We will need help to come up with the $6,000 that is needed to submit our dossier.  Once we have competed our home study, there will be a few grants we can apply for, but nothing is guaranteed with grant applications.

Any help is appreciated!  Even just a few dollars can help!  If you can't "chip in", maybe you can share my blog with your friends and maybe one of them can help!