Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Adoption Process

Having experienced having a biological child and now adopting a child, I can tell you that having biological children is much easier. I realize that there needs to be some sort of screening process before adoption, but it makes me sad that they make it so difficult to adopt children. Perhaps if it were easier, and cheaper, more people would adopt.

With that being said, here is what the adoption process entails.

1. Apply to adoption agency

2. Upon approval, begin homestudy process. This is where you begin collecting TONS of paperwork, including...
- a six page application
- a 12 page questionnaire going back as far as elementary school
- photographs of our family
- 3 personal references
- verification of employment
- verification of health insurance
- a certificate of financial status, indicating assets, liabilities, etc.
- tax returns
- monthly income and expenditures
- physical exams for all 3 of us
- marriage license
- work history for the past ten years
- residence history for the past ten years
- copies of drivers licenses
- copies of social security cards
- birth certificates
- a floor plan of house with dimensions of each room
- photos of the front and back yard
- photocopies of any degrees we have
- local police clearances
- vaccination records for our dog
- home visits and interviews with our social worker
- 10 hours of adoption training

3. Upon completion of homestudy, we have to send an application for advance processing of an orphan petition and get fingerprinted at the US Immigration Services

4. Upon getting your I-171H from US Immigration, you submit your Dossier to the Ethiopian government, where it has to be translated into Amharic. The Dossier includes the following, which all have to be notarized and state certified...
- adoption approval from adoption agency
- a letter to the Ethiopian government explaining our intent to adopt
- birth certificates
- marriage license
- our homestudy report
- international placement agency license
- criminal clearance reports
- employment verification
- medical exams
- a financial letter from our bank
- tax returns for the past three years
- proof of medical insurance for ourselves and our adopted child
- three reference letters
- power of attorney
- post adoption agreement
- 8 passport photos
- I-171-H from the US Immigration Services

5. Now, you just wait for referral, which could take 5 - 6 months

6. Referral of your child - this is where we will receive a photo and any medical history available on the child that we have been matched with. After reviewing the information and speaking with an International Adoption Pediatric Specialist, we will decide whether or not to accept the referral or wait for another.

7. Upon acceptance of a referral, we will have to wait to pass court in Ethiopia, which I am not sure how long it will take. I think a month or two.

8. Upon passing court, we will then travel to Ethiopia to pick up our baby. We will most likely be in Ethiopia approximately five days, so complete travel time will be approximately nine or ten days.

So, where are we in this whole process? We are between step two and three. Our homestudy is complete, but we are having to make a few changes to it, before it is notarized. I am hoping that we will receive the notarized copies by the end of this week, which means we will be able to send our application to Immigration Services. At that point, we could wait up to six weeks to be fingerprinted and receive our report back, before we can submit our Dossier.

If that all happens according to schedule, we could be on the waitlist sometime in early to mid September, which means we could have a referral by February or March, and traveling in April or May of 2010. However, anything can change at anytime that can either move us ahead of schedule or behind. At this point, I am trying not to get my hopes up about anything, and trying to be realistic that it could be even longer than expected.

Before I forget, we are requesting a little boy under 12 months of age. That is all we know at this point, but I can't help but think he is growing in an Ethiopian woman's belly at this time. Robbie even thinks he could be born already. Either way, please pray for him. Pray that he is as healthy as possible, given the circumstances, and that he is getting enough nutrition to grow and develop. Pray that God gives him comfort and peace while he waits for us to come get him. Pray for his biological mother, as she is probably having to make the hardest decision of her life, and finally, please pray for our current family as we are all about to experience a huge adjustment in our lives. Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support through all of this!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why Africa???

Once we committed in our minds to adopt internationally, we needed to decide which country was right for us. Over several years, we have considered adopting from Ethiopia, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, and Columbia, and from my understanding, adoptions from Guatemala and El Salvador are now closed, so those two countries were no longer an option. After looking into travel time, the age of the children who can be adopted, and the time from application to actually receiving your child, our decision was becoming more clear; and after our initial conversation with our social worker, we decided that Ethiopia was the perfect fit for our family. Here are some quick statistics on Ethiopia that you may find alarming.

According to unicef.org,

- Ethiopia counts one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 per cent of children throughout the country are missing one or both parents. This represents an estimated 4.6 million children – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

and according to orphan.childrenshope.net

- The average annual income in Ethiopia is $1,000 compared to $43,800 in the U.S.- The average life expectancy is 49 years compared to 78 years in the U.S.- Access to Safe Water is 22% compared to 100% in the U.S.- Adequate Sanitation is 6% compared to 100% in the U.S.- The under 5 years old mortality rate is 92 deaths/1000 live births, compared to 6.4 deaths/1000 live births in the U.S.

UNBELIEVABLE!! That makes you realize how truly blessed we are.

Our social worker also told us that another advantage of adopting from Ethiopia is that they do not have an alcohol or drug problem there, so we do not have to worry about fetal alcohol syndrom like we would in the U.S. or other countries. Another thing I am finding out, is there is actually quite a few people around San Antonio that already have or are currently in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, so that will provide for some excellent resources along the road. It will also give our child the opportunity to get to know other children who have also been adopted from Ethiopia.

We are obviously very excited about our decision, but we still have a long way to go. I will inform you of the adoption process and how far along we are in the next post. Thanks to all of you for your support!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Official, We Are Adopting!

WOW! After staying home for five years, it seems I have lost my touch with computers. I thought this adoption process was overwhelming but setting up this blog is proving to be equally as overwhelming. Stay with me, I will get more comfortable and creative with my posts over time.

For those of you who don't know us, Robbie and I have always had adoption in our hearts. We have discussed it on several occasions over the years, but up to this point, for whatever reason, the timing was never right. Finally, in May of this year, we officially decided that it was time.
Although we have always really wanted to adopt internationally, we had strong concerns about taking Paige with us to a potential third world country, and leaving her out of this very important step in the process was not an option for our family. Because of this concern, we briefly began investigating domestic adoption, however, Robbie seemed a little less excited that we were not adopting internationally. Therefore, after I discussed with our social worker and other people who have adopted internationally, I became more comfortable with the travel involved and now we couldn't imagine it any other way. As an added bonus to picking up the newest addition to our family, we also believe this experience will be very good for Paige, not only will it expose her to life outside of her "bubble" but it will help open all of our eyes to exactly how blessed we are.

This being said, we have decided to adopt a little boy from Africa!! Why Africa??? Check back later this week to find out...