One of the required documents in our dossier is a declaration and attestation of health for each of us. We each have to sign part of the form and attest to the fact that we do not have TB or “any other infection or mental inferiority” and that we are physically and mentally sound, in good health, and capable of raising a child. I’m not sure why, but our signature on this part of the form does not have to be notarized. (I actually asked about this, since everything else we sign in the dossier has to be notarized, but I was assured it did not need to be notarized.)
Our doctors then have to sign the second portion, which says that the doctor has examined us, we are in good physical and mental health, and that we are able to offer “a secure and loving environment in which a child may grow and develop.” The doctor’s signature must be notarized.
I started to work on these documents last week, knowing that it might take us some time to get the forms to our doctors and for them to sign them (and get them notarized). We both had physicals in the spring for our home study, so I didn’t expect there to be any problems – other than perhaps logistical ones – in obtaining the signatures.
While we see different doctors, Craig and I both go to the same medical office, so last Tuesday I took both of our forms to the office to drop them off for signature and inquire about the availability of a notary. I was prepared to ask my coworker to come to the medical office to notarize the forms, if necessary, but I was hoping I wouldn’t need to. I went to the suite for my doctor first, and was told that my doctor will not fill out any forms without an examination and that I needed to make an appointment. Bummer. The woman at the desk then told me that my doctor didn’t have an open appointment until the end of September. Big bummer! She clearly saw the panic in my probably desperate-looking expression, and offered a great solution: She scheduled me for an appointment with a resident that would be supervised by my doctor. (Our medical office is part of a major medical institution and school – think JH – so everything is a teaching facility.) That way we knew my doctor would be there and available to sign the paper. I appreciated the scheduler’s creativity with this request and the fact that my appointment was only a few days away.
I then asked if the office had a notary that would be available, or if I would need to bring my own. I was sent to inquire in the Human Resources office, and there I found a lovely woman who agreed to notarize the forms for us. She even wrote down my appointment time in her calendar so she knew she would be available. Really, she was so nice, and she and the other ladies in the office all politely inquired about our adoption plans and how the process was going.
I didn’t even try to drop off Craig’s form that day; since my doctor apparently required another examination, and they are in the same office, I assumed his would as well. So, Craig called his doctor’s number the next day to schedule his appointment and the person who answered the phone said something along the lines of, “That’s ridiculous. You don’t need an appointment for that. Just drop off the form.” This made me want to call my doctor directly to see if she would let me do the same, so I left a message for her, hoping that I wouldn’t have to deal with an appointment. She never called me back (and I later learned she never got my message). Oh well.
So, my scheduled appointment was yesterday. The poor resident was so confused about what was going on, and then he also got stuck with my doctor in the room with him the whole time (when I think normally he would conduct the exam on his own and just report to her his findings). My doctor is very nice and was gracious about wanting to help – so gracious that she proceeded to sign the form while the resident was giving me a quick once-over. This was no good, since the notary has to witness the signature, and the notary wasn’t there yet! Thankfully I had brought an extra copy of the form and we just started over. My doctor chuckled over the fact that of course the attorney patient would bring extra copies and insist that the doctor and notary follow the rules. (She had offered to just sign the document a second time in the presence of the notary, but I really didn’t want any errors or confusion on this document in the dossier.)
On my way out, I dropped Craig’s form off in his doctor’s office suite. We left a self-addressed, stamped envelope with it so that it could be mailed to us when his doctor is done with it, and I left detailed instructions about contacting the notary (including her name and phone number) prior to signature. This way we hopefully won’t have to chase down the paper, and it can be sent to us even when we soon go out of town.
It’s sort of amazing to me how complicated this stuff can be. We couldn’t have had these forms signed when we had our physicals done in late April/early May, because we had strict instructions from WHFC that nothing in our dossier, when submitted to them, could be over 90 days old. (This is another instance where our agency’s policy differs from other agencies’ policies, since I know of at least one other person doing this who doesn’t have the 90-day requirement.) I was also a bit surprised that clearly nobody in my doctor’s office knew how to handle a situation like this. Thankfully, though, they all pitched in and made it work. We all had a laugh about the FIVE people in the exam room at the end of my appointment – the doctor, the resident, the nurse, the notary, and me!