Friday, July 27, 2007

Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world?

Joshua and I had a date last night! My mom took care of the kids so that we could finish tiling the kitchen floor after completing the day-long paperchase in Indianapolis. (Which, by the way, went very well! We started the day with a notary session. The notary was pleasant; the kids were terrific; what more could a girl want? Then, after exchanging cars and precious cargo with my mother, we trekked up to Indy. With an eye toward my tendancy to seeth after public service workers treat me disdainfully, Joshua gently tried to preempt the certain breakdown before us by .....gently.......and strategically mentioning, "I'm fully prepared to deal with government desk workers today who are rude and mean." Sounds like a useful self-help mantra doesn't it? Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world? After a few minutes of defending the basic good in all of humanity, I finally yielded and prepared myself to the onslaught on basic decency that was before us. In the first several minutes of our visit, the immigration office did not disappoint! Most families wait to schedule a visit to the USCIS until after they have filed their I-600A and have received an appointment for FBI fingerprinting. I was ambitious and optimistic, however (if I had a nickel...), and thought we would have a better chance of being confident in the accuracy of our documentation and its certain inclusion in current fee scale, which changes dramatically next Tuesday, if we went in person. Ultimately, the USCIS was both less intimidating and less helpful than I expected. The desk worker initially frowned upon my having made the trip and advised me, with nary a glance at our meticulously filled out paperwork and its supporting documents, that the processor would let me know if there were any problems. --- without Josh's admonishment, I would probably have been taken aback by her startling indifference (did i mention.....?), but I was prepared and started for the side door of the circumstance. I asked specific questions about our marriage licence (which has never seemed very official-looking to me) and our homestudy (which is going to require an addendum....addenum....adendum....whatever.....from our social worker to complete), and she began to acknowledge the possible complications, finally retreating to the back room to speak with the processor intention all along. Everything seemed to be in order! -- if you're putting together your I=600A, remember to bring COPIES of your marriage license and birth certificates (they WILL NOT accept originals) and an original signed and notarized copy of your completed homestudy (I have heard that they will process the form while the homestudy is still pending, but we did not want to risk misplaced paperwork)....Oh yes, and another hefty check. Also waiting in the office was a father with his four small children and drifting friend. Olivia would have had a blast with them! Our next stop was the office of the Secretary of State for authorizations to certify our notarizations on five of our documents (uh-huh), and we had no idea where to go. First we made the logical move of asking the security guard at the information desk to help us, which he did, very kindly (the first of a long string of government workers in our day to shatter Josh's paradigm), but as he was speaking, I kicked myself....internally....for asking anyone but my brother David, a man with superpowers (my first non-hyperbole of the post!) of geo-political awareness and recall. Super-Dave can find his way through any city on the globe aided only by his astonishing recall of the facts he assimilated in years of poring over maps as a child, his uncanny capacity to remember information, and his intuition (which will heretofore be referred to as his Geo-political Supersense). Dave did not disappoint. Of course he knew where the Secretary of State's office was! And where would I like to park? Be sure not to bring in offensive or sharp materials as I hear they are really cracking down, and give my best to Steve (okay, he didn't really say that Steve part, but I would not have been surprised!). As it turns out, though, the Secretary of State is more than a man. (and I don't mean that with any of the contemporary sexual ambiguity that the phrase implies). I mean he, or it, is a department. A whole branch of government. A little freaky to discover really. We needed to visit the certification, authorization and apostille (which, I think, is french for certification and authorization.....we Americans just cannot seem to purge ourselves of our ever-frustrated francophilia) BRANCH of the Secretary of State. Yes, he is a man, a department, and a thing with branches (I need to think of a Superhero moniker for him! How about Super-secretary......nice). So we migrated from his office, across the street to the government building where two nice women in a government office with no lines encouraged us in our adoptive efforts with jolting statistics (apparently 3000 children were internationally adopted into Indiana last year alone) and competently handled our authorization paperwork (you hear that, Josh, that's the sound of your paradigm exploding and mine easing into place behind it....ahhh, the humanity). But something weird happened just before we left the office of the Secretary of State, the man, to visit the Secretary of State, the branch. Tom Donika (or whatever his name is) our illustrious Secretary of State superhero, breezed through a door at the back of his office suite, smiled familiarly at Josh and I, and enthusiastically (ENTHUSIASTICALLY, beyond comprehension) greeted us. I will try to transcribe his actual greeting here, without the interference of my retro-active, truth-bending imagination, so that you can fully experience our actual confusion. "Hey, you guys! Good to see you! Just have a seat, and I'll be with you in just a minute!" Exclamation points notwithstanding, the man could not have been more familiar if he had leapt across the table and hugged us both (okay, back to exaggeration-world)! It WAS supremely bizarre. All I can say about the Secretary of State is that he is the friendliest man I have ever met without a single exception. Josh says that we witnessed a display of political savvy, a vote-insuring false affection (he just can't let that paradigm die, can he?), but I like to believe that Tom Donika just likes us....that much. Incidentally, those nice ladies over at Secretary of State, the branch DID NOT EVEN CHARGE US for their services.....not an anomaly in their office; apparently their services are free, but startling as virtually everything in this process has been attached to one fee or another. So if you're visiting the Secretary of State's office (branch or man) bring a smile and your paperwork, but check your pessimistic paradigms at the door.) Nope, that wasn't a gratuitous close-parenthesis. It was the end of the world's longest parenthetical statement. So we went to out to eat at a hit-or-miss Chinese buffet where the poi (koi? I never get that right) are always floating and the food is always questionable, and then out to a mildly amusing movie, and had a wonderful time. Did I mention that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world? Thanks, again, mom, for giving us the chance to reconnect during this stressful last-days-of-dossier fog. You are the best (I will work on your superhero title in a future blog, but I fear it will stretch across several lines and be rather unwieldy). I love you.

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