Thursday, September 25, 2014

Documents in Motion

Every day, I learn something new as I endeavor to get the official papers we need for our move to Ecuador filled out, completed, Apostilled, and set to go.  My Organizational Management professor from my College of Business days was right. . . "I am continuously learning and growing."  Without relent.

Carolyn Anne's second attempt Criminal Background Check with CA DOJ is in process. . . and no way to check the status via telephone automated message, as the system seems to still be inoperational.  I appreciated it when my Criminal Background Check was checked at earlier, and I could hear the "mailed" status of the check.  Now, I'm in the dark.  Will send an email to no doubt the trusty Anthony at CA DOJ for the update after a week's time, which should be sufficient based on the last response I had with them.

We were so very thrilled to receive Carolyn Anne's birth certificate(s) in the mail Tuesday.  Wayne County Clerk's office really did deliver on what they said it would do. . . I stand amazed!  Considering the now legendary dysfunction that Detroit has, and considering that they have furlough days according to the clerk I last spoke with, that is impressive service.  And my LA County birth certificate isn't here yet.  My hat's off to the folks in Detroit, for sure. 

The next step is to get her birth certificate Apostilled, which is to say authenticated per the Hague Treaty of 1961.  There's a whole Internet site about Apostilles here:  Since the clerk in Lansing didn't give me the information I needed, and my email request to them has not been fulfilled as yet, I have little trust with them to do the right thing.  I called up the State of Michigan Secretary of State's SuperCenter in Detroit (Detroit!) due to the fact I could find a telephone number for the office there, and spoke with a very capable clerk who told me I needed to send a $1 money order with the request, plus the birth certificate, of course.  Processing time of 5 to 7 days.  Great information, what I was trying to get the first time from Lansing, and I told her about the great experience from the Wayne County Clerk.  She too appreciated hearing that kind of result from them. . . a bit of good news to brighten her day.  I asked her if I could send my request to her office, which has a number of excellent Yelp reviews, by the way. . . but no.  She said it has to be mailed to the Lansing office (they accept in person requests, though).  So I got the papers in order with a cover letter (we're gonna miss this desktop and the ability to create/print items on the fly like that) stating the request, signed by Carolyn Anne.  Off to UPS to get it shipped, with tracking to *and* from (we included a return envelope, as instructed by the clerk).  We want to know where these papers are. . . coming and going.  Never done this before, and they'll know it's a prepaid UPS return.  We've included our email and phone number, so any problems, I hope they communicate and do the right thing. 

Speaking of UPS shipments, we sent off via UPS a personal check for our Cuenca condo rent for two months upcoming - December and January.  Over $80 for that to get done.  Tell me about it.  Tracking showed fantastic progress up to the entry in Ecuador at Guayaquil at the International airport there, and has apparently not moved since the ensuing 18 plus hours.  It was declared on the package to be a personal check. . . which UPS customer service said was allowable by Ecuadorian Customs.  Hope they're right.  If not, I will have to eat the return charge back to me for the disallowance by EC Customs.  Ouch!

UPDATE 9/25/14: the UPS envelope with the rent check enclosed made it past Ecuador's Customs, it appears.  Yay, God!  "Out for Delivery," is the current status.  Not in Cuenca yet, but should be delivered today according to what the tracking shows.

Now for the "third ring" in the circus act of getting our documents in order: our Social Security proof of income letters.  These need to be Apostilled, and the ones who say they will do it is the US Secretary of State's Office of Authentications.  Internet site link here:

After speaking first with a personable, but instrangient staffer at State's DC headquarters - and my request for a return call from a specialist didn't occur, I followed up once again with a phone call to them.  Same instructions via recorded message (a good thing if I need to retrieve them later) and same classical music where I was put on hold for a half hour, as before.  I don't trust getting a call back after the last attempt here.  Patience is the way.  I requested a specialist to call me back.    Sure enough, I got a return call in a few hours from a  very knowledgeable staffer who seemed to be well versed in Social Security proof of income Apostille letters, and gave me the short checklist on what the letter must contain.  Official stamp from the agency?  Rubber stamp is all that's needed, with address.  Check.  Signature of official?  I told him it wasn't there on the letter.  No problem, he said.  Just get them to sign, print their name below the signature, and give their title and you're good to go.  Great!  I asked him how often the State Department got these kind of Social Security proof of income authentication/Apostille requests.  "All the time on a regular basis," he replied.  Good!  Someone at State has knowledge and a clear, level head.  Will be sending our proof of income letters - must be originals, no copies - and the DS 4194 with the proper payment of $8 per request via UPS to US Dept. of State in DC at their Dulles, VA mailing address.  Hope I will get all the details right so it won't be returned unfulfilled.  Lord help. . . so many details, so many documents in motion.  Lots to keep track of. 

UPDATE 9/26/14: I now see how the first State Dept. staffer was basing his responses: treating the Social Security proof of income letter as a General Document income verification letter.  Not the way to handle it, imho.  The second staffer based his response from the fact that this was a Federally Issued document (plus he has had experience doing this very thing before).  Sure enough, the checklist he went through with me jives with the info on the Internet site page cited above.  Executed by a US Federal agency?  Check.  Have an official's original and/or stamped signature with the raised and/or stamped seal of the agency?  Check. . . original signature and stamped seal.  Flows nicely.  You learn new things every day, and it becomes apparent in the sea of regulations how two staffers in the same section of the same Department can come to different conclusions.  Seeing things from the customer's perspective. . . what needs to be done on their behalf. . . is the way, though.  Such a request isn't for nothing, after all!  Find a way to fulfill it.

As a result of all the time I've been spending on the paperwork end of our pretravel preparations, I am strongly considering asking our Realtor to delay the close of Escrow for a week.  That can be done according to him, but Escrow can never be sped up.  Talking to Carolyn Anne about why this needs to be delayed, and having that conversation, but no resolution just yet.  Help us, Lord to be of one mind and in step with each other. 

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