Wow. Just….wow. Mark and I have been completely overwhelmed by the love we have felt over the past few days. Your facebook comments, messages, blog comments, text messages, and phone calls have blown us away. We knew there would be a big reaction but seriously….this bog got 600+ hits in two days!! Unbelievable . We have been touched by your reactions and touched by the stories you have shared with us. Who would have thought that so many people have been affected by infertility and/or adoption? We’ve been touched to hear from people we haven’t talked to in awhile. Thank you so much for all the kind words. Thank you. Several people remarked how lucky these kids will be, and you’re right. Any kid, any person really, is incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the kind of love we’re surrounded with. Wow.
So how exactly does this process work? Why does it take two years?
There are three main steps to the process: Dossier, Wait List, Referral. I will describe each below. Please understand that I am not an expert on this (yet), so I am telling you things as I currently understand them. Doesn’t necessarily mean they are correct. They may vary from other stories you have heard because each agency and country have different requirements.
Part One: Dossier (Doss-E-A)
The dossier is just a bunch of papers that you must gather before you can adopt. This process takes 4-6 months. There are a bazillion things included in the dossier. The first, and perhaps the most significant, is your home study. The home study is a four step process in itself. We will begin this in the next several weeks. They will interview both of us together, interview each of us individually, and then inspect our home to make sure it is safe. So no keggers the night before the inspection. 🙂 We have already met the social worker that will conduct the home study and she is great. We are not really worried about this.
Another part of the dossier is citizenship. When the kids come to the US, they will be full citizens. In order for that to happen, some prework is required. You must get fingerprinted and fill out some papers telling the government about your adoption. It takes a few weeks for this to be processed but it is not that big of a deal.
If you are thinking about adoption, you want to make sure any agency you go through is Hague certified. Now, don’t ask me exactly what this means, because to be honest I don’t really know. But just like you probably wouldn’t send your kids to a school that is not accredited, you don’t want to adopt through an agency that is not certified. As part of being certified, adopting parents have to complete parent education classes. That should be real fun. Not.
The last part of the dossier is the mountain of papers. Here is the full list for Ethiopia: Letter of Introduction, Autobiography, Photos, Letter of Commitment, Employment letter, Financial Declarations, Tax Returns, Certified Birth Certificates, Certified Marriage License, Medical Letters, Police Letters, Reference Letters, Letter of Obligation, Passport ID Page, Power of Attorney, Passport Photos.
Many of the above documents have to be notarized. Then they are state certified. Then they are certified by the US Dept of State. Then they are certified by the US Embassy in Ethiopia.
Quite the process, huh? As you can imagine, we will be busy the next several months. I think that this first part of the process will go by pretty quickly since we will be so busy.
Part Two: Wait List
When all the above is done, you get put on a wait list. I was surprised to hear that the wait list for siblings is actually longer than the wait list for single children. For Ethiopia, single boys are running about 8-10 months. Girls are 12-14 months. And siblings are 16 months. I have no idea why, but that’s the way it is. I think it is just like it sounds. You get put at the bottom of the list, and as kids are sent home, you get moved up. When you’re at top, you get matched.
If you are thinking about adopting, realize that when the agencies refer to the wait list, that is the time from dossier submission to referral. That does not mean you will have a child in that time. We anticipate the time on the wait list going by very slowly.
Part Three: Referral
Referral is the adoption-term for when you get matched with your child(ren). When you get referred, your case worker calls you and tells you everything they know about the kids. They also send you pictures. Shortly after the referral, maybe a month or two, you travel to Ethiopia for a week to meet the kids. Then you come home. In another month or two, you travel back and this time you take them home. I’m sure this part will go by very quickly. Just think, until you get referred, you can’t really do much shopping or planning because you don’t really know how old the kids will be or what gender they will be. In the last few months you have to prepare everything- not to mention plan two trips halfway around the world. Yes, this will be a crazy, busy, fun time.
So there you have it. There is our life for the next two years. Bring it.