Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From Here on Out...

Now that our dossier is out of our hands and into others, we will get updates as it clears each hurdle. We have no control over this process. Things will happen when they happen. We have a record of when they have happened for the families that have completed adoptions from Dong Nai Province before us, but past history is no indicator of future performance (where have I heard that before??).

Today we received a message from our agency. Everything is in order with our dossier and it's on its way to San Francisco. That would be the Vietnamese Embassy in San Francisco. See, once everything in our dossier is notarized, it has to be certified by the State that the notary is indeed licensed and able to notarize. Then the Embassy authenticates that the State is indeed a State in the United States and is authorized to certifiy that the notary is licensed and able to notarize (okay...I'm projecting here - I really don't know what the Embassy is actually authenticating but this sounds like a good story).

So...we are on the way to San Francisco! Our next update will be when we are back from San Francisco and on our way to Vietnam. We are living vicariously through our dossier these days!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beginning the Journey

Before Brian and I got married, we talked about adoption. We didn't make any decisions, but we opened the door. After being married for about a year and a half, we started talking earnestly about starting a family. And adoption just made the most sense to both of us.

We thought we had settled on China. But we needed to wait until Brian turned 30 to start the process. Two and a half weeks before the big '30', we learned that China was changing their rules and unless we could get our dossier logged by April 30 we would not be eligible for another 3 years. So we called the agency we had planned to use. They hated to disappoint us, but they didn't really think it was feasible - it would be just too close with getting Immigration approval.

So we regrouped. We investigated domestic adoption. It wasn't for us. Then we started looking at other countries and Vietnam just felt right.

And every time I look at this face, I know just how right it is.

We spent some time choosing an agency - it is far more important to us to complete an ethical adoption than it is to spend a few extra months in the process. The agency we chose, Holt International, pioneered international adoption and is considered a leader in ethical adoptions. They were the first to be licensed in Vietnam after a 2+ year shutdown and they provide humanitarian relief to kids and families. Their first priority is to reunite families by trying to improve their economic conditions so that they can support their kids. When that doesn't work, their second priority is to facilitate an in-country adoption. We are their third choice. That is okay with us.

Holt is not in our state so we had to use an approved provider to do our homestudy. We applied to Holt at the end of January 2007 and submitted all our paperwork to our homestudy agency on February 11.

The homestudy is not a fun process. It's rather invasive. It's frustrating to think that any teenager can just get pregnant, but we have to have our lives examined and prove that we will be good parents. But it is for the protection of children and we lived through it.

Our homestudy was accepted by Holt on May 11. We were told that we were 33 on their informal waiting list (it's informal because each family may be open to different ages, gender, and medical conditions - therefore referrals don't always move in a linear fashion) and that we could expect a 12-14 month wait for referral. Imagine my suprise when I received a call in JUNE with An's referral! We formally accepted her referral on July 11. It is very typical to have a child's medical file reviewed by an international adoption medical clinic (we used the University of Minnesota) and that accounts for the time between referral and our acceptance.

On July 12, I hand delivered our I-600A application to USCIS and they fingerprinted us immediately. We were told we should have our approval in 2-3 weeks which definitely did not end up being the case as we received in in the mail TODAY (that's 75 days, if your counting).

In the meantime, we prepared the rest of our dossier so that it would be ready to go as soon as we received our I-171H approval. Tomorrow I will get everything state certified and overnight our dossier to Holt. Once they receive it, we estimate 9 months before we receive travel approval.