Tuesday, October 2, 2007

How to Adopt in 9 "Easy-Peasy" Stages

Many people ask us what the adoption process is like. It's a pain. I thought rather than try and explain to everyone what it all entails (my mouth was getting dry...) I would write it all out for everyone to see. It could be useful if you were planning on adopting to print it out as a checklist? Anywhoodle. Many refferals are coming in these last few weeks, hopefully we will be soon. Only a few people can still be ahead of us I imagine. Once we get our referral you can scroll down to stage VI to see what happens next because I'll be too busy doing the stuff I should have been doing all summer... Keep your fingers crossed and your hair braided, too.

** Status as of 04/09/07: Stages I - V complete!! **

Stage I: Sign Up with Adoption Agency and Home Study Agency

A. Research the 7 U.S. adoption agencies authorized by Ethiopian gov’t
B. Select Dove Adoptions International, based in Oregon
C. Apply to Dove, pay application fee
D. Received acceptance package and contract from Dove, submit contract and first installment of adoption fee
E. Research licensed adoption agencies to do Home Study (must be a licensed agency in our home state - NY)
F. Select Children’s Hope Int’l (NY)
G. Submit application to Children’s Hope Int’l, pay application and initial Home Study fees
H. Ask four friends to write letters of recommendation (thanks guys!)

Stage II: Home Study
A. Receive intro package and instructions from CHI
B. Get assigned to licensed Social Worker who will write the Home Study; call Social Worker to introduce myself. (YAY Sara, she was GREAT!)
C. Make appointment to get fingerprinted for NY Department of Justice clearance
D. Make appointment with doctor for medical
E. Get full medical exam, TB test, get doctor’s signature notarized on four copies of health letter (for Ethiopian gov’t – to be part of my Dossier) and four copies of medical form (required for Home Study)
F. First meeting and interview with Social Worker at our home
G. Gather and submit to CHI (home study agency) the following documentation:
Application Form for International Adoption Home Study
Personal History Form
Fee Agreement International Adoption Home Study
Recent photos of house, us, etc.
Release of Information forms (notarized)
Criminal Record Clearance statement from City of New York, NY (notarized)
Agreement for Int'l Home Study Services
Certification of Pre-Adoption Preparation
Employment Verification (letter from employers) (notarized)
Medical Report (on form provided by Dove Adopt Int’l) (notarized)
TB Test results
Copy of 2006 and 2005 tax returns
Copy of recent bank statements
Other financial documentation (net worth statement)
Copy of Birth certificates (state seal, etc)
Copy of Marriage License (state seal, etc)
H. Have fingerprints taken for DOJ clearance.
I. Confirm with CHI that DOJ clearance was received.
J. Complete the following courses for fulfill Adoption Education requirement:
Adoptive Parent Prep Seminar
“Let's Talk About Adoption"
“With Eyes Wide Open" (focus on int’l adoptions)
“Conspicuous Families" (focus on transracial adoptions)
K. Second and third meetings and interviews with Social Worker (at our home).
L. Review draft Home Study provided by Social Worker, make comments/corrections, send back to Social Worker.
M. Social worker finalizes Home Study, sends to CHI.
N. CHI informs us that Home study is officially complete!!
O. Get five copies of Home Study (one for USCIS, four for dossier)
P. Pay remainder of fees to CHI, including post-placement fees

Stage III: Get Permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) to Adopt a Foreign Orphan
A. Fill out USCIS Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition)
B. Submit the following to USCIS in New York:
Completed I-600A
Completed Form DOJ-361 (Certification of Identity) (notarized)
Check for I-600A Application fee
Check for “Bioustric fee” (for fingerprints)
Copy of my passport (for proof of Citizenship)
Health insurance verification (proving that the children will be covered by my health insurance as soon as they get here)
Completed Home Study
C. Receive letter from USCIS with appointment to have our fingerprints taken.
D. Have fingerprints taken for FBI for clearance.
E. Receive form I-171H from USCIS (Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Petition of Orphan Petition) - this means we’re approved to adopt!

Stage IV: Dossier Preparation
A. Prepare our Dossier. The dossier must include three copies of each of the following, with the appropriate authentication. Also, in some cases Ben and I had to have separate letters (ex: medical clearance, criminal clearance. And each document had to be notarized (THANKS VICTOR!)
1. Letter to Ethiopian Government (introducing myself, explaining why we want to adopt from Ethiopia, and committing to providing my child with awareness or his/her cultural heritage) (notarized)
2. Letter to the Board of Directors of Toukoul Orphanage in Addis Ababa
3. Family Registration Form (notarized)
4. Financial Information (net worth statement) (notarized)
6. Criminal Clearance Letter from City of New York (notarized)
7. Three Letters of Reference (different from the forms submitted for my Home Study) (notarized)
8. Employer Letters (notarized)
9. Medical Letter (with TB test results) (notarized)
10. Birth Certificate (state-certified)
11. Completed Home Study (notarized)
12. Copy of CHI Agency License (with "true copy" statement) (notarized)
13. “Obligation of Home Study Agency” form signed by CHI (notarized)
14. Copy of our lease (with "true copy" statement) (notarized)
15. Power of Attorney – for attorney to represent us in court in Addis Ababa (notarized and apostilled by the State of New York.)
16. Form I-171-H (this form is sent to us from the USCIS) (with "true copy" statement, notarized and apostilled by the State of New York.)
17. Passport Photos
18. Family Pictures
B. Submit our Dossier, along with Dossier fee, to Dove Adoption. It ended up the day we were supposed to send everything in Ben flew out to Argentina and we had a blizzard (IN MARCH). I was walking around with a horrible cold trying to get the last documents certified and apostilled, and off to Kinkos/FedEX in the sleet/snow… (thanks for celebrating with me, Isaac!)

Stage V: Dossier Processing and Submission
A. Dove sends Dossier to Ethiopian embassy in Washington DC to be authenticated and translated into Amharic (a few weeks)
B. Ethiopian embassy sends Dossier back to Dove
C. Dove sends Dossier to Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA)
D. MOWA approves Dossier
E. Dossier submitted to the Board of Directors of Toukoul Orphanage in Addis Ababa

Stage VI: Children Are "Referred" To Us {Total wait between Stage V and Stage VI: APPROX. 4 - 6 MONTHS,}
A. The board of the Toukoul Orphanage meets (behind closed doors) to identify children for us, based on the information in our dossier
B. Children’s “Referral” papers (including photos and medical information) are sent to Dove
C. Dove contacts us with referral information (Yay!!)
D. Consult with Pediatrician experienced in international illnesses who might be more familiar than just your average ped.
E. Officially accept the referral (or reject, if there is some good reason, and wait for another referral – this is extraordinarily rare)
F. Get vaccinations incl.: Typhoid, Hep A and B inoculations

Stage VII: Adoption Is Formalized In Ethiopia (I’d like to point out here that we adopt our children before we ever meet them…) {Total duration of Stage VII - approx. 4 - 6 weeks}
A. Attorney in Addis Ababa prepares documents for court on our behalf
B. Paperwork filed in court
C. Court date assigned
D. Court date (Attorney in Addis Ababa appears on our behalf.)
E. Court issues adoption decree – (adoption is now final under Ethiopian law)
F. MOWA issues permission for us to travel to Ethiopia
G. Embassy appointment date is set (Once I know this date, I can plan our travel to Ethiopia!)
H. Adoption decree translated into English
I. New birth certificate is issued for pancakes (with the Ethiopian first name retained, Ben’s first name as his/her middle name, and our last name as their last name – this is standard practice and will change their name from Benjamin Thomas )

Stage VIII: I Go To Ethiopia To Get My Child!! {Total duration of Stage VIII - approx. 2 weeks}
A. Fly to Addis Ababa
B. Stay in guesthouse at Toukoul in Addis
C. Get children!
D. Apply for Ethiopian passport for children
E. Get medical and 2nd HIV test (required by US)
F. Go to US Embassy; apply for Visas for children
G. Fly home! (ACK, 23 hours, and then collapse)

Stage IX: Home Sweet Home
A. At airport – provide children's passport, Visa, and sealed documentation (given to us by U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa) to USCIS agent
B. Get child’s passport stamped – they are now legal residents!!
C. File for re-adoption in New York so they can become U.S. citizens
D. Apply for SSN for children
E. Engage CHI to create “post-placement” reports
F. File post-placement reports with Ethiopian government – four (4) total


jerah said...

Stage X:

Feed, clothe, bathe and cut kids' fingernails.
Trip to ER to remove olive pit from nostril.
Cut fingernails.


Xander and Alana Cole Faber said...

Anna, this is amazing! By the time you get your pancakes, you'll certainly have earned them! Thanks for sharing all of this information!!!

How to Party with an Infant said...

Currently writing my dossier statement. So much to do!

Lestat said...

All I know before was that the adoption process would usually take some time. It never occured to me that it would this complex. I'm glad you've outlined it for us, that way we would have a clearer understanding of the entire process.

adrin said...

Really nice post...The manner in which you write stages is pretty interesting.

Code is - Legal advice forum   

workhard said...

The content of ur post is really informative..Thanks for putting it up