April 1, 2013

The Process.

Silas & his African friends.
We have had several people ask us about the adoption process and how it works.  First off, not all adoptions happen the same way.  They can be done in a variety of ways from private adoptions between two parties to state-sponsored adoptions through foster care or orphanages.  When you factor in international adoptions where each country has its own process and standards, it can become a bit overwhelming.  So rather than write a book on adoption (which I am far from qualified to do anyways), I thought it may be helpful to describe our journey thus far and what we expect on the horizon while adopting from DR Congo.

Our adoption process began with the same step most do; the home study.  The home study is where a social worker will evaluate your family to determine that you are fit for adoption.  It is required for all domestic and international adoptions.  It includes interviews, references, financial statements, fingerprints, background checks, home visits, education, etc.  It is a long process as there is much information to be gathered.  We worked with All Blessings International’s Springfield office for our home study.  Meryah was our social worker and she was fantastic to work with.  

While we were in the midst of the home study, we also began to interview adoption agencies to determine who we would use as our placing agency (this is the agency that will actually work with us to pair us with a child and handle the paperwork of finalizing the adoption).  We had been researching various country programs to determine what was the best fit for our family.  Once we chose the DR Congo, we tried to reach out and talk with a few different agencies with DR Congo programs.  We found that there can be quite big differences between various agencies in terms of how the adoption looks.  I would recommend talking to multiple agencies and ask plenty of questions.  Interview them as you would interview an employee.  This is someone you will be working with for potentially a long time.  We were already working with All Blessings International on our home study and decided that they were also the best fit to be our placing agency.  There were several reasons for this, but the biggest was just the sense of comfort we felt when talking with them as well as their responsiveness compared to some of the other agencies we interviewed.

Now that we had hired ABI as our placing agency, we were able to begin work on our dossier.  The dossier is the packet of information that will be submitted to the foreign country, in our case the DR Congo.  Each country will have different requirements for a dossier.  The DR Congo was relatively easy to gather the requirements as most of the information they required we already had provided for the home study.  Once our dossier information and home study were completed, both have were sent off to be translated into French, which is the national language of DR Congo.  

With our home study now complete, we were also able to submit our I600A application.  This is the form submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to begin the adoption approval process from the US Government.

This is where we stand now.  Our home study and dossier are complete.  We have applied to the US Government for preliminary approval (final approval will be after we know who the child will be) and our dossier will be translated soon and sent to the DR Congo for their approval.

We are now considered referral ready.  This means that we are waiting for our placing agency to match us with a waiting child.  It could take a few days or a few months.  In other countries, this process can last much longer.  Needless to say, we are hoping to get a referral by the time you read this!

Once we have a referral and we accept it, there will be more paperwork.  Both the US Government and the Congolese Government will then work on approving our adoption with a specific child.  There will be more background checks, especially on the child.  We will initiate the process of citizenship for the child.  Again, this part of the process can widely vary in time depending upon the country.  In the DR Congo, we are told to expect it to take 3-6 months after we accept a referral.  However, we have been told many times to expect bumps in the road as it is normal when dealing with governments.

Once everything is accepted and approved, we will then travel to DR Congo to finally meet and bring home our child.  We will have to stay anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks in DR Congo as there will still be some legal stuff to take care of while we are there.  So, depending upon how quickly we can get exit visa’s, a passport for the child, and other immigration things resolved will determine how long we stay there.

Clear as mud?  We are just learning the process as we go, so I am sure there are many things I have missed along the way.  This is a broad outline that will let you know what we have gone through and what we expect in the near future.

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