Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome to the whirlwind!

Well, it's official. I am OBSESSED. Joe must think he's unleashed a crazy person! We're living in warp speed these days... I can't begin to express how motivated I have been to do everything I can to speed the process along. So far, I have gathered most of the documents needed for our dossier, and the ones that I don't have yet have been requested and are on their way. The biggest thing holding us up at this point it the homestudy. In order to get a social worker assigned to do our homestudy, we had to get the agency a long list of documents. On that list were things like birth certificates, marriage certificate, medical form signed by the Dr. for both of us, letters from our employers, letters of reference from friends, fingerprint clearances, etc., etc. At this point, the only thing I don't have to them is the letters from our employers (should have those to mail in the next day or two), and Joe's birth certificate. Our letters of reference should be on their way to Angels' Haven by now. I'm hoping that they'll go ahead and assign a social worker as soon as the bulk of these documents arrive in their office.

In order to familiarize you with the process, I thought I'd give an overview of it in order of steps we will go through. There is some overlap in a few of the steps, but most rely on previous steps in order to move forward.

  1. Apply to Adoption Avenues (Ethiopia placement program) and Angels' Haven Outreach (Homestudy Agency)
  2. Gather documents required for Angels' Haven in order to begin actual homestudy. Also, be gathering documents for the Ethiopia dossier since there is a lot of overlap in what is needed for the homestudy and the dossier.
  3. Submit all documents for homestudy along with a check for $1,000 (1st half of homestudy fee).
  4. Sign Adoption Avenues contract and return it with a check for $4,000 (1st installment fee for 2 children).
  5. Homestudy (this could take a month or more to complete)
  6. Send final check of $1,000 to Angels' Haven Outreach prior to receiving completed homestudy. (OUR GOAL: Complete Homestudy by end of June!)
  7. Upon receipt of completed homestudy, drive to Los Angeles USCIS (Immigration) office and submit I-600A (Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition) with all required documents. (From application to fingerprinting to approval will probably take AT LEAST a month, probably more like 2-3 months).
  8. Upon receiving I-171H (Notice of Favorable Determination...this document results from the approved I-600A), complete dossier and take to the Orange County Clerk and Recorder, followed by the Los Angeles Secretary of State's office for notary certification.
  9. FedEx Certified Dossier with check for $250 (Authentication/courier fee) to Adoption Avenues for submission via courier to Washington DC to the US Department of State and then to the Ethiopian Embassy to be Authenticated.
  10. Send $6,000 (2nd installment for 2 children) check sent to Adoption Avenues before dossier is sent to Ethiopia.
  11. Authenticated dossier sent to Ethiopia. Wait for referral officially begins.
  12. Receive referral, have international adoption doctor review and give feedback.
  13. Accept referral (or reject if there is just cause... in which case you wait for another referral), send final installment check to Adoption Avenues for $5,500.
  14. Case goes to court in Ethiopia... adoption is finalized in Ethiopia
  15. TRAVEL to get our babies!

Wow, what a process. It's very hard to nail down an accurate timeline for all of this, but we are HOPING we will be able to get through the process by the end of the year. That is one advantage to working with a small agency with no waiting list. Of course, paying for all of these things as we go is the other obstacle that could hold up the process. I have only listed the large expense items, and not all the costs for fingerprints, visa application, document notary & certification, postage, etc. We expect the grand total including travel to end up between $25,000 - $30,000. Hopefully, a large chunk of that we will be able to get back through the Adoption Tax Credit in the year after the adoption is finalized. One large advantage to getting our children before the end of this year is that we could get the tax credit next spring!

Please everyone keeps us in your thoughts for a speedy process! We are so thrilled to be so supported by our family and friends! We love you all so much and appreciate the kind words and support as we work through this journey towards becoming first time parents!

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