Today I made a trip to Austin in order to get our CSP's and POA's apostilled. What's that you say? You aren't familiar with the international adoption lingo? Let me interpret what has become every day vernacular around the Carlin household. A CSP(Child Specific Petition) is the document stating that we desire to adopt a specific child. The majority of international adoptions do not work this way. Normally with international adoptions, being matched with a specific child comes way down the road in the adoption process. In fact, in Daniel's birth country, being matched with a child(also called, receiving a referral, in adoption lingo), doesn't usually happen until you are there in country to adopt. Special needs adoptions work very differently. The adoption process starts with the desire to adopt a specific child. POA is Power of Attorney. I'm sure you know what that is, but you might want to know why that is an important part of the first packet sent overseas. The POA's give the Reece's Rainbow facilatator the ability to act on our behalf in Daniel's country. Simple enough. On to "apostilled".... Pretty much every document sent overseas for our adoption has to be notarized. An apostille is just and additional authentication the is required for our documents to accepted internationally. A sheet of paper authenticating the notarization or certification of each and every one of our documents is attached each paper. It is on the Secretary of State letterhead and has The Department of State seal on it. Very official.
Our CSP and POA documents need to be in Daniel's country ASAP. We are praying that these are the documents that will hold his transfer. While the orphanage has been notified, through our facilitators, that Daniel has a family coming for him, these documents are the first "official" notification that we are in the process of adopting him. We are praying that once "official" word reaches them that we are coming, that that will be enough to keep him for being transferred to an institution. Continue to keep that in your prayers until we are told otherwise.
So here is the apostille story, which could also be called the God-is-so-amazing-and-continues-to-make-his-presence-very-evident-in-my-life story. But since "apostille story" is alot shorter, we'll go with that.
As most of you already know, Daniel is scheduled to be transferred to an institution sometime this month. When God called us to adopt him, we knew that we were going to have to go into battle mode, and that one of the main enemies that we would be at war with would be time. Time is not something that Daniel has much of, so we have been fighting hard to get to him as fast as possible. Documents can be apostille in person, or by mail. They are apostilled by walk-in at the Secretary of State's office. Having the documents done by mail takes about 10 days. Austin is a bit of a drive for me to make with 3 young kiddos, round trip in one day. But I also knew that Daniel doesn't have 10 days to waste. My documents were approved to be apostilled and sent overseas Saturday morning. Going to Austin on Monday wasn't an option for me, but Tuesday or Thursday would work. Of course, I wanted to get it done as soon as possible so I talked with my mom, and she was able to get off work on Tuesday to help me with the kids.
We left at about 7 this morning. We drove to Houston and I dropped my mom and the kids off at my sister's house, and headed to the Capitol! Once I was in the quiet of my car by myself,(that rarely happens), I started to worry and panic. I have been stressed the past several days to the point of feeling downright oppressed. I've gone from worrying about Daniel being transferred, to Ray in the hospital, the super-fast last minute home study home visit prep, to demolition in my kitchen and complete disarry in my house, to being completely distraught over the legislative mess in Daniel's country. I know that worrying is wrong and doesn't change anything anyway. But try telling that to a mama who has the possibility of not being able to see her child ever dangled over her head. Daniel is my son. It may not be legal yet, but he is mine. I know that the outcome is in God's hands, I'm just fighting my human mama nature to worry about my child. So, the terms stressed and oppressed fit me perfectly in recent days.
All that to say, once I got in the car alone in the quiet, I really started to feel the panic. I started praying fervently, but quickly realized that I should enlist some help. I texted a sweet friend, who I knew would really pray, and asked her to pray about my trip. I spent most of my trip to Austin praying. Every time I would stop praying, I would start thinking, which made me start worrying, so I would go right back to praying. I was so heavy hearted that my chest hurt. Literal heartache. I kept my hand on my chest for most of the trip(I guess because it hurt), and at one point I was praying so fervently that I started raising my other hand. I quickly noticed that I had no hands on the steering wheel, and decided that maybe I should pray quite so hard while I'm driving.
I made it to Austin in a very timely manner and in one piece(in spite of the no handed driving). I found the building super easy, thanks to GPS. Then came the task of parking. Ugh. The problem wasn't that I couldn't find a parking spot, the problem was that I've never used a parking meter and I wasn't sure what to do. I know that sounds ridiculous. I was even thinking that to myself. I mean I'm 31 years old and I don't know how to work a parking meter?? I felt like "little country girl done gone to the big city". I moved to a couple of different spots before giving up and deciding that I was just going to have to figure the darn thing out. I waiting until no one was walking by(which took a few minute because down town Austin right by the capitol building happens to be a busy place.), then I got out with my wallet and a handful of change. I've seen people in movies put change in the machines, so I was hoping that knowledge would serve me well. I was fully prepared for it to require some secret code, known only to city folks, or have to swipe some special badge that us country folk don't have. Turns out, they do take change. Apparently, is one thing I learned from the movies that is correct. Parking meters taking change? True. Couples making out in the bed right after waking up and before brushing their teeth? Not true. Don't believe everything you see in movies.
Back to the story though....
After I put money in the parking meter, I got back in the car. I hadn't expected the whole parking meter thing to go so smoothly, so I wasn't mentally prepared to head straight to the building I needed to go to. I took a minute to pray, check over my documents for the ten millionth time, and pray again. To you, it may sound silly to be so stressed about this papers, but in an international adoption, your documents are everything. Leave one out, mess one up, lose one, and it messes the entire thing up. So after re-checking, yet again, I get out and head to the building. I find it, go inside, sign in, and the officer points me to where the room is that I need to go. When I go in, I'm the only person in the waiting area. The employee gets me started on the paperwork, which was super easy. While she was looking over my papers she pointed out some pictures of several kids on the wall behind her and said that those are kids whom have been adopted internationally that they have apostilled documents for their parents. I look up and see Wade and Yuri. You know who Wade and Yuri are, but I do. Wade and Yuri are two little boys from Eastern Europe. Josh and I read about them back in July, and God used their story and sweet faces to call us to adopt. Now, right in front of my face, was the exact same pictures, of the exact same boys, that God used to break our hearts for orphans in EE. Can we say, God thing, or what??? As soon as I saw them I said,(a little too loudly), "I know who those boys are!" The very nice worker lady, who ignored the fact that I yelled in the Secretary of State's office, was pretty shocked herself.
Right after that, while she was still working on my documents, a man and his pre-teen/early teenish daughter walk in. The lady asks him what he needs. Wanna guess what he needed? I'll just skip the suspense and tell you what he needed. He needed documents apostilled for his international adoption from Daniel's country. Hum. Another God thing. It was wonderful to be able to chat for a minute, in person, with another parent that is going through the exact same stress and worry over the legislative vote in Daniel's country. Not to mention that we got to talk adoption document talk and have a few laughs while speculating if we will survive the paperwork monster. It was refreshing to talk to someone that is in the process like we are.
While we were talking a lady came in. She needed a document apostilled for her Chinese adoption. And right behind them came in two guys. When they found out where we were adopting from, they started speaking Daniel's native language, which is NOT a common language for random folks to know how to speak fluently. Not only that, but the lady adopting from China started speaking the language too! These guys had a wealth of knowledge, not just about Daniel's country, but where I can find native food for him to eat, and where I can learn about the language and history of his country. At this point I've started to feel like I'm in the twilight zone. After I got all my paperwork done, I said my good byes to everyone and left. As I was walking out of the building, I stopped and sat in a chair close to the exit for a few minutes. I prayed and thanked God for the supernaturally smooth apostilling process. Then I thought about the people I had just met, and wondered if may I had been with angels unaware. The whole thing was just too far fetched to be a conincidence. God's hand was obviously at work. He knew I need those folks. Even though we only met for a moment, it completely lifted my spirits. I'm not totally convinced that the two dudes with fairly ratty clothes and shaggy hair, weren't actually angels.
I headed home, with plenty of time left on the parking meter.(Once I found out it took coins, I put in all the coins I had. I may need to find a parking meter tutorial on youtube before my next Austin trip.) I stopped at the first post office I came across(which turned out to be about 3 miles down the road), and overnighted the papers overseas. Once the documents arrive in Daniel's country and are translated by our facilitator, I am praying that we will know something more definite about the status of Daniel's transfer.
While I do find myself falling struggling with worry over the many unknows, in one day alone, God has shown me how his mighty hand is guiding me and going before me to prepare a way. I can not stop praising him for the incredible way which he showed himself present and active in my life today.