The sealing process for dossier documents can be a three, four or five-step process. This depends on the state in which you live. Of course, Maryland is a five-step state. The steps are:
2)County Certification (approving the notary)
3)Secretary of State Certification (approving the county clerk)
4)US State Dept. Authentication (approving the Secretary of State)
5)Chinese Embassy Authentication (approving everything)
Yesterday we made the trek into DC to get step four taken care of. I am thankful that I live within an hour of our state capital and DC. This has allowed me to hand-deliver our documents rather than mailing them. Something about entrusting these documents which I have carried around with me for three months "just in case the house burns down" to the US Postal Service is a bit disconcerting. And, let's not talk about the personal nature of what they contain!
So, step four is done and all that is left is the Chinese Embassy, which has it's own hoops to jump through. We are going to have to mail everything, because of their rules, so they will be overnighted pretty soon. Once this is done, we will just be waiting on our invitation from USCIS for fingerprinting and their approval document. Then this document will need to go through the sealing process and our dossier will actually be complete!
It could be as late as February before we receive that final document, although I hope it will come more quickly. Most adoptive families see this as the last big hurdle.
I also decided to send scans of our documents to our agency this week to check behind me and make sure that I've done everything right. I just received an approval email from our dossier consultant. I am so relieved. As careful as I have tried to be, I had this nagging feeling that I had missed something.
So, all that to say...there is light at the end of the tunnel!