- First, you talk to a social worker and decide how you want to adopt. There are two options- domestic adoption and international adoption. We looked at both options. Believe it or not, we are really too old to qualify for domestic adoption. Most agencies seem to push open adoption or at least that seems to be the most common. Most couples must be in their 30's to adopt domestically. That is one reason we chose international. Once we chose international adoption, then we picked which country we wanted to adopt from. Most countries have different regulations and restrictions which you must meet. We chose China because we meet the age restrictions and also because their government's adoption policies are very regimented. No surprises or bribing of judges etc. They treat all adoptive parents equally. The babies are usually healthier and have more medical history than babies adopted from other countries. So we know we will more than likely adopt a healthy girl between the ages of 7 months to 24 months. That is what we qualify for.
- After we spoke with a social worker from Lutheran Family and Children Services (LFCS) here in town, they directed us to an agency which deals with Chinese adoptions. We chose Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI). They deal only with Chinese adoptions and are very well known with the Chinese government. They will take care of the international comings and goings.
- Next we sent our application in to CCAI and were approved to be their clients. Now the real paperwork begins.
- We needed to compile our dossier (I think this is a French term for "butt-load of paperwork") which consists of many documents which all must be notarized, certified by the secretary of state where the document originated and then they must be authenticated by the Chinese consulate for our region (which is in Chicago). The documents we needed to get were birth certificates, marriage certificates, police clearance reports, passports, employment verification, an income statement, physical exams, an adoption petition and a home study which was done by our local agency, LFCS. The home study consists of a social worker inspecting every aspect of your lives from you income to your pet's vaccinations to your functioning smoke detectors in your home. They examine you through a magnifying glass. We also needed to apply for qualification from the US government to adopt an orphan from China and another background check and fingerprinting by the US dept. of immigration This form is called a I171-H. This is the golden ticket to the adoption process. Once we got this form, (which is a real pain because you have to deal with the US immigration office and believe me, they are not in any big hurry to accommodate you) then we sent all of these things to CCAI.
- CCAI takes everything from here. They check all of your documents to make sure they are worded properly and contain accurate information that the Chinese government will need. Once the dossier passes critical review then they translate all documents from English to Chinese. They send the dossier to China and once China receives the dossier, they log you in. This is the precious log-in-date or LID. This date puts us "in line" to receive our baby. There are many people who are logged in. They match children with the next adoptive parents who are "in line". So it is kind of first come, first serve in a way. There are not as many children available as there are dossiers that are logged in. Now, the wait from log in to match is about 18 months. We expect that as we continue on, the wait will get longer by the time we are matched with our daughter. We are probably looking at around a 2 year wait.
Here is our time-line so far:
- Our application was approved by CCAI 8/2/06
- Our dossier was finished and received by CCAI on 2/2/07 (yes, it takes that long to get the paperwork together)
- Our dossier was mailed to China on 2/6/07
- Our log in date or LID is 2/25/07
Now here is the kicker, you remember that I171-H? Well, that form has to be valid throughout the waiting period and our trip to China to pick up our daughter. The waiting period is going to be over 18 months. The I171-H expires 18 months after you receive it. So before we go to China, we will have to renew that form which means that we will have to be re-fingerprinted, update our home study and have another physical (and of course pay the government another fee for the form).
Our fingerprints expire on 2/9/08 and our I171-H expires 7/9/08. We will be travelling hopefully sometime toward the end of 2008.
This is our pregnancy period. No physical side effects but a lot more paperwork and hoops to jump through. I prefer to call it paper pregnancy. I don't have swollen ankles but I think I have carpal tunnel from all of the paperwork we have filled out.
Now you know how it works...
Thanks for checking out the blog.
By the way, we think we are going to change the spelling of Rileigh to Ryleigh. We are still playing around with the idea. What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know.
Kelley & Dwaine