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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adventures in the windy city...

I was in Chicago last week to get all of our documents authenticated by the Chinese Consulate.  I lived in Chicago for a number of years and was very excited to have an excuse to visit the windy city.  I had visions of spending 40 minutes or so in the consulate and the rest of the time taking in all of the beautiful architecture, food, and nice weather!  I had all 111 pages of the dossier ready for authentication (except for immigration approval), the shiny golden seals of the state of indiana visible on all of the documents, my debit card in hand, and I was ready to mark this milestone off.

Me on the phone prior to driving to Chicago: "Nín hǎo, do you take debit/credit cards or do I need to bring a money order or cashiers check"

Nice lady at the consulate:  Debit/credit cards are fine.

Me on the phone prior to driving to Chicago:  Great, Is there any paperwork I need to fill out ahead of time or do I simply need to bring the documents and my debit card.

Nice lady at the consulate:  Only other thing is a copy of the photo page in your passport.

Me on the phone prior to driving to Chicago:  ok great!  Thank you!

I drive 5 hours to Chicago and check into my hotel and found the walking directions on my iphone.  I arrived @ 12:15 only to find that the office is open from 9:30 - 12:00 and 1:00 - 2:30.  I patiently waited for 1:00 p.m. and my number to be called.  My number was called at 1:05 and I walked to the window with a smile and my documents.  The first thing the nice lady asked was if I had the application for authentication completed.  I reminded her that I called and was told there wasn't any additional documents required.  She handed me the application and told me to go to the back of the line.  I filled the application out and waited for my name to be called again.  

I walked to the window for a second time and before I could say anything, she asked if I had a money order for the authentication fee.  I let her know that I would be using my debit card.  I was then informed that the debit card could only be used if I was going to return in 4-5 days to pick the documents up in person.  This was not an option so I made the 3 block walk to the post office to get cash and a money order.  

Upon my return, 15 minutes before they closed, I was pleased to see that the lines were short.  Feeling more confident than ever, I returned to the window only to be asked "have you made copies of all of the documents because we need two sets".  I politely responded "no" and reminded her again that I was not made aware of, nor was it clear on their site, that an additional set of documents was needed.  She told me to come back when I had copies.

The next hour and a half was spent at FedEx making copies of documents with golden state seals that cannot be broken or bent without me having to start the process over with that particular document.  The next morning I decided that I should get their early given the challenges of the day before.  Upon arrival, I noticed the lines were much longer than the day before.  I pulled my number and the wait was on.  I walked to the window, sufficiently beaten, and she asked me if the copies were in order of the originals.  I told her no and quickly started to put them in order.  I was sent to the back of the line.  Luckily I had taken an additional number after 5 or 6 people came in, just in case I needed a quick return spot in the line.

Back at the window, I handed her my documents and she cracked her first smile.  She said "Oh!  This is for an adoption.  You should have told me and I would have given you more time at the counter."  Wow...  I was angry and relieved to be done.  I thanked her and took my time walking back to the hotel so I could take a few pictures and enjoy the architecture.  The paper chase is officially over for us.  We have a fingerprinting appointment for immigration approval on December the 9th.  Once we receive approval from the USCIS, we are simply a $6400 check and a return envelope away from dossier submissions!

Here are a few pictures from the two day trip.  Enjoy!


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