we left for Chi-town at 6am this morning to make sure we would arrive at the Chinese Consulate before it opened at 9. Justin dropped me off at 8:45 & I told him I'd text him how long of a wait it would be before he unloaded the kids. When I pulled a ticket & saw I was 13th in line I told him to just wait in the car. I'm not sure how other Consulate offices work but in Chicago there are 4 windows (5 if you count the pick-up one) & you pull a ticket for either A (Chinese Nationals), B (authentication), or C (visas). There was a window for each letter & then one window that never opened. You wait for you number to be called (in my case B213) - some "waiters" took a new number being flashed as a free for all & would rush to any open window. This same "waiter" would usually then go pull a number about 10 minutes after being shot down by the window worker.
30 min into my wait B213 flashed - I hand the lady my documents (12 total - waiting for lucky 13/immigration approval) and ask if they can please process today (website says if documents are dropped off by 11am they "could be picked up at 2:00pm the same day"). She counts my documents (twice), looks through all documents to verify they are notarized & certified, and then tells me she needs a photocopy of each document (including the approx 25 page homestudy). I see a copy machine in the Consulate - copies are 10c each & it looks prehistoric but others are using it. She tells me not to use it because the "quality is bad, documents may be rejected...go to Fed Ex Kinkos". Then she smiles & says "oh and you pick everything up tomorrow after 2pm...too many documents to do today." oy
I leave Consulate to find the "Fed Ex Kinkos 2 blocks away" - after a mini-search I stumble upon the FE. Now for those of you that haven't been through a dossier authentication - you can't remove any staples so I copied each page, folding page-by-page over until the entire dossier was copied (about 40 min in a FE that was about 100 degrees). Back out to the 30 degree weather (thank you Chicago for not having normal sub-zero January temps today) & rush to the Consulate (rush as in watch out for mom's strollers, professional ladies with their suits & Uggs, boat-loads of traffic, & a bike or two). There was a couple at my lady's window so I sat to wait - couple leaves, she waves me up & another "waiter" rushes up. Luckily, my lady had my back & told her to wait her turn (or something like that but in Mandarin). She quickly fanned through my photocopies, gave me a receipt & told me she'd see me tomorrow after 2.
2 hours 30 min drive to Chinese Consulate
1 hour 45 min to turn in docs & be told to come back tomorrow
2 hours 30 min drive home (ok, so after some shopping & food)
2 hours 30 min drive back to Chicago tomorrow
2 hours 30 min drive back home
so most of you adoptive parents out there are thinking we are crazy (maybe) - yeah, we could have hired a courier....or I could have had Fed Ex make me up a postage paid envelope and then track down someplace that sells money orders (cause they don't take cash & you can only pay by Visa if you are picking up in person) to have my documents mailed back to me BUT I want the documents back in my hand asap. Plus I already had the form filled out & I was not leaving that window again