Yesterday, I boldly entered the door marked "Cadre and Patients Only," and strode down the hall to my husband's office; mainly because I would have gotten lost if I had tried to get there through the front door.
Keith shares his office with two other cadre and had other soldiers visiting, so the room was like a sea of camo, desks and guys when I appeared in the doorway.
My husband's face lit up as soon as he saw me, which I attribute to the pink summer dress I was wearing.
"Well hello, sweetie," he said, almost shyly. "I guess you're ready..."
The men sat up, drew their legs and boots back and my husband climbed out of the small corner room, his smiling eyes never leaving my face.
He was so flustered he forgot to introduce me. Half way down the hall, we did an about face and returned to the door.
"I'm sorry, have you met my wife?" he asked one of his cadre, who hadn't.
"Yes. No. Well, over the phone," said the fellow.
We were headed out to have our fingerprints taken and sent to the FBI, which sounds exciting and possibly dangerous, but really is just one more thing we have to do to finish up the home study.
After we located the small building, we learned that they do take fingerprints, but do not run the background checks, which is the whole point.
So, we'll have to go off post to get that done, at a cost of about a hundred dollars, and we'll have an extra set of fingerprint cards. Maybe we could have them framed and set them out as conversation pieces.
Then, Keith had to go to another little building to get a doctor, since, medically speaking, the Army still thinks he's back with the guys at the motor pool and firing range.
Doctor secured, we parted ways at the company parking lot.
"I guess you can't kiss me goodbye, since you're in uniform..." I pointed out.
"The hell with that," my husband said shortly, and proceeded to break all kinds of regulations very satisfactorily.
When I got home, I started in on getting the forms for the release of child abuse records in Kentucky and Colorado.
I looked at the form our home study agent had given me for that purpose. I couldn't help but notice that it was for South Dakota, which a state we'd love to visit, but have never lived in.
However, figuring maybe she knew something I didn't, I gamely filled it in, trying to ignore my growing sense of something not quite right.
Eventually, I gave in and called her. I explained that the wording of the form seemed to allow it to run searches in any state, so maybe it would be all right?
She said she'd never heard of that before, but we could submit it if we wanted to. However, after we were placed with a child, and our dossier was sent to the federal department of ICPC for official and final approval, it might get kicked back if the form wasn't correct.
I thought of myself and Keith with our newborn, not-quite-our-child-yet in some hotel room in some as yet unknown state for days on end, unable to cross state lines, calling up state offices, using the hotel fax machine on no sleep, changing tiny diapers in a room full of the smell of that and formula and filling out forms which may or may not be the correct forms.
I went back to searching.
Due to a new federal law, we have to get our backgrounds checked back for years, in any state we've lived in. It's a fairly new law, and each state has their own forms and requirements.
This seems to mean that no one has it all figured out yet. We all seem to be groping around in the great, bureaucratic dark.
After about a half an hour, I had Colorado figured out and their forms printed and complete. Thank you, Colorado! We love and miss you.
However, the Commonwealth of Kentucky continued to elude my most persistent and increasingly desperate search.
I found their official web site. I even found the page labeled with the new law. They even had links to the forms other states require for this law, and the official name of their own form.
But did they have their particular form there, or a link to the form?
No. No, because that would just make too much sense.
Did they have it under their section marked Forms and Documents?
No. No, of course not.
Anywhere under Adoption or Family Services?
No and no.
I googled the name of the form, and then I googled the law itself. On some obscure, legal web page that only the best trained lawyer could possibly translate, I found a link to the fabled document.
There it was, in all it's printable, down loadable glory. Hallelujah.
I promptly saved it and then printed it.
Then I read it.
By signing the document, I was agreeing to the fine police force of Kentucky to run my fingerprints through the FBI date base.
Which is fine. I mean, by then, the FBI will be all, Hey, it's our friends from Indiana again! Those guys! Remind me to call them sometime. We should have them over for dinner. I wonder if they play Bolango Ball? That's such a great game...
Except, how was the Kentucky police going to get our fingerprints, never having had occasion to arrest us, and therefore not having them on file? Would we have to drive all the way up there, in order to be fingerprinted?
(There's an art to being fingerprinted, by the way. It's all in the wrist.)
Maybe it was fortuitous that we happened to have those extra fingerprint cards...
Still, I thought maybe I'd better call the number of the obscure but vitally important Department for Community Based Services Records Management Section and find out, so I called someone who had no idea what I was talking about and transferred me to someone who was not in their office.
Then I took another look at the form. Under my signature, there was a blank space for the signature of a certain mysterious Witness.
What witness? Any witness? Could Keith witness my signature and then could I, in turn, witness his?
Colorado was so much more helpful in making it clear that my signature had to be notarized, which is your top quality witness. I mean, if you want a go-to witness, a reliable witness, the Notary is the way to go.
So I called the friendly offices of the DCBSRMS one more time and talked at length with some person who seemed to be a receptionist.
(I imagined her sitting in a gunmetal gray box in front of a counter that was slightly too high, with a wall of file cabinets towering over her. The walls would be decorated with out of date official notices printed in red and black ink and stuck there with peeling Scotch tape.)
Wherever she was sitting, she did not know the answers to my question, and the other person who might know the answer was also out of her office for the day.
(I now imagined the entire Department for Community Based Services Records Management Section, in their ground floor wing of the box shaped, cement state building eerily quiet... just one phone ringing on some one's desk somewhere, the sound echoing down a long, dingy hallway...)
Furthermore, she told me that they normally do not deal with the prospective adoptive families- they prefer to deal with the home study agency. That is their normal procedure for out of state requests, she explained to me, painstakingly, impatient to end my entirely irregular phone call and put an end to my pesky questions.
(So she could go back to pondering the meaning of life while tracing the water stains on the tiled ceiling? Answering the other lonely call? Restocking the Styrofoam coffee cups? One can only wonder.)
I managed to wrangle the name of the lady who was out, and her extension number before giving up. Then I sent my home study agent all the info.
Let's hope she has better luck than I did.