Once we decided on adoption, it's all downhill...Right? Nope, not even close. Domestic, or International? Open or Closed? If international, China, Guatemala, Ukraine, Russia...? What agency? So, the research started. We figured being a bit older, second marriage, three kids, we probably weren't going to be on the top of the list of an unwed mother in the U.S. There are more than three potential adoptive families for each potential adoptee in the states. With that and a few other worries about domestic adoption, we decided that we would go international. There were pros and cons to each country. China was a single trip and would be an incredible culture. Guatemala has the advantage of being on the same side of the globe and ability to adopt an infant under 9 months of age. The Ukraine offers a one trip option as well. But in the end, we felt that Russia was the country that held our son or daughter.
The international adoption process is two part - approval within the U.S. to bring an orphan into the country, and approval by the foreign country to adopt one of their children. We started the U.S. approval process in July of 2005. We each had to fill out an 18 page questionnaire for our agency....a thought provoking and incredibly personal process. The questionnaires were just part of about 25 documents we had to complete. We had four wonderful friends that were willing to recommend us for adoption. We agreed to criminal background checks, and then we waited. And this was just to get the agency to work with us! Then came the homestudy. This involved interviews by a social worker with each of our kids, and us, together and separately. We had to childproof cabinets, add a fence around the pool and develop a fire escape plan. All before we even knew if they would approve us to adopt! In October of 2005, the social worker created a nine page document recommending that we "be approved for the adoption of one child between the ages of zero and eighteen months from the country of Russia."
Approved homestudy in hand, we then applied to the Department of Homeland Security to bring an orphan into the United States. We had to wait through the holidays to receive our approval in January of 2006.
During the wait, we worked on our dossier
(doss-e-a) to be sent to Russia. This is a packet of forms, and copies of various documents that have to be signed, notarized and then apostilled. (ap-O-stilled) The Apostille is done by the Secretary of State in which the document is created. For us, we had to secure apostilles from Texas, Nevada and Michigan. We had to have doctors declare that all 5 of us were healthy, free from all kinds of diseases, and mentally stable (no comments, please) to add another child to the family. There were blood draws, and other lovely tests that we had to subject not only ourselves, but the kids to as well. After several redos of documents and three months, we finally got all the documents filled out and signed (in blue ink only), notarized, apostilled and ready to be translated into Russian.
Everything was in Russia and waiting for the Russian committee to review by January of this year. The Russian process is lengthy and has become very volatile over the past couple of years. There is a contingent in the Russian government that wants to outlaw international adoptions, and they have been successful in slowing down and creating a lot of hurdles in the process.
On March 6th, we were informed that the committee had reviewed our dossier, and we only needed to change two documents. It was a pesky little change of wording on who issued our passports. The form stated the United States - and we had to change it to the Houston Passport Agency. So, forms were changed, signed in blue ink, notarized in blue ink (thankfully we have a notary in the family!) and sent to Austin for Apostilles. These forms are now on there way back to Russia.
So, back to the wait. Our agency won't speculate as to how long it will take. We are the next in line for a "referral" from the committee. It could be next week, it could be 6 months from now. Until then, we wait.....sometimes patiently.
Here is the bible verse I have posted on our computer, a reminder that this adoption will happen:"But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it surely will take place. It will not be delayed." Habakkuk 2:3