Friday, September 9, 2011

The adoption process explained... sort of.

Unless you are involved in adoption somehow, you most likely have no idea how this whole thing works. You'd have no reason to, I suppose. Honestly, before we committed to bring Annie home, I knew very little about international adoption. I knew the key terms: homestudy, dossier, immigration; but really had no idea what they entailed.  Nearly every day, I/we are asked WHY. Why can't we just go get her now? Why do we have to wait so long?  And while I've vaguely kept you up to date on our "paperwork", you most likely have no idea about the details. I haven't talked about them extensively because 1) I would never want to seem as if I'm complaining. Lord knows how grateful we are to have this kind of stress. 2) I don't have time because of all the paperwork! 3) I don't want it to be overwhelming or discouraging for anyone else considering adoption.

But because we get WHY all the time, I want to take just a sec to tell you... even though it won't actually answer the why (it has to be done this way).

Here's a basic list of what we need/needed to do in order to bring Anna Gray home, because "paperwork" isn't always paperwork. Sometimes, it's just work.:
  • Petition to adopt a specific child X 3
  • Petition for adoption
  • Homestudy
    • Completed by a licensed social worker (get a copy) at a licensed agency (get a copy). The homestudy itself is basically a report about us. It tells about our home, our family (including our children, our marriage, our sex life), our childhoods, our finances, 3 reference letters, background checks, employment letters, physicals (including HIV and TB tests), 4 interviews...
    • But here's the thing: In order to tell about our home, the social worker has to visit it, check it out, look around, ask questions, etc. In order to tell about our finances, the social worker needs copies of our taxes and W2s. And sometimes your references forget to write their reference letters (wink, wink), so make sure you follow up. The police dept. will do your background checks. Employers don't always love writing employment letters, especially when you are consistently NOT at work, due to military commitments. Doctors can make physicals super unpleasant and don't forget to go back 48 hrs later for them to check your TB results. And if your labs aren't back by then, come back a third time to get those, and it's possible your medical statements haven't been notarized yet, so go back a 4th time to pick those up later. OH, and if the notary accidentally stamps it upside down... go back 5th and 6th times.
  • The immigration form. Very important. We also needed a letter to send with that, signed by a physician- and NOT the aforementioned physician- about Annie's medical needs.
  • Another employment statement for Nathan.
  • Proof of home ownership
  • 2 original copies of our marriage certificate, from Florida, then sent back to Florida to be apostilled
  • 4 copies of our passports
  • 5 Power of Attorneys
  • Name declarations and 3-4 other forms and I have no idea what they're for, honestly.
All of that together, makes up the dossier. Dossier is a fancy name for "packet o'stuff about you". But that packet o'stuff takes a lot of work, time, and organization to get together!

It's stressful, folks. REAL stressful (in my most southern accent... I'm fully aware that it should be "really"). And Little Miss Type A over here doesn't like to depend on other people. Controlled chaos is my favorite place to be, and sometimes I have to leave off the "controlled" part in order to get it all done. This week has been a doozie, I tell ya.

Short-term stress (please, Lord) to get our little chipmunk home! Some nights we just *STARE* at her pic on the fridge. It's my happy place :)

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