Monday, June 9, 2008

International Adoption Journey

This blog is long overdue especially since we have been knee deep in our adoption plans for the last seven months but better late than never right? I thought I would start with a "brief " summary of our journey so far. For many of you this will be old information so please feel free skip this introduction post. If you are new to our story or crave more details then read on.

December 2007:

Well, this is not where the story really begins but we will start here anyway. We, my wonderful husband, Craig, and I, have always talked about adopting a child. In our younger years, I ran into some health problems that had us concerned that we may never be able to have any children of our own and it was at that time that we first started talking about international adoption (IA). Needless to say, we were blessed with two absolutely precious biological children, Ansley and Alec. Our thoughts of adopting did not end there though and as we started batting around the idea of having one more kiddo the idea came into the fore front again. To make a long story short, we decided to try the old fashioned way of adding to our family first but when that was just not meant to be we jumped head first into the world of international adoption. In my heart, I know this is exactly what we are meant to do. I never felt good about the prospect of being pregnant again and I think that we are meant to have the joy of parenting a child that needs us for other reasons. So in December 2007, I started learning everything that I could about all the different countries, agencies and options. On December 27th, we told our parents ( the grandparents to be) and children that we were planning on adopting a baby girl from Kyrgyzstan!!! Everyone was very excited to say the least.

Why Kyrgyzstan? Or more commonly, "Where?????". Kyrgyzstan is a small, former Russian republic that borders China and Kazakhstan. It has only been open to US adoptions since 2006 and was a great option because you have the ability to bring home infants, less than 12 months.

The Process.

It starts with finding an agency, completing a homestudy, compilings a ton of documents which will make up the dossier. After that you wait for a referral for a child. This typically comes with a picture, maybe a video, and medical information. After that you take the first trip to Kyrgyzstan to meet the child and formally accept or deny the referral. If everything is OK then you return home and wait for the court proceedings to occur in Kyrgyzstan. Once that portion is done then the child becomes yours and you return, after a undetermined amount of time for a second trip to pick the baby up and bring them home. The typical wait between the first and second trip varies but is a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Lots of waiting.

January 2008:

At the beginning of the month we finalized our decision to use Nightlight Christian Adoptions ( in California) as our placement agency. I had contacted the consulate in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to find out the list of agencies that were working in Kyrgyzstan. At that time, there were just 7 and after contacting all of them, we felt the best with Nightlight. They had been successful in bringing home babies from Kyrg, the waiting list was not that long and the length of the two trips that would be required seemed doable. We also started and FINISHED our homestudy with a local agency. At the time that we sent in our agency fees, we were #9 on the list for a baby girl but three of those families were open to either gender. Our coordinator thinks thought we should have a referral within the next 3 months. Our kids were getting excited too. Alec was thinking of all the ways that he was going to be able to protect her and Ansley was telling everyone, thinking of names and asking lots of questions about orphanages.

February 2008:

I worked hard and by Feb 12, just 6 weeks after starting our homestudy and picking an agency, I had the dossier complete, certified by the state and sent off to Nightlight. For those of you not in the IA community, the dossier is a packet composed of many official documents ( marriage licenses, medical, financial, homestudy, ect...) that are all notarized and then certified by the state ( of FL). Once arriving at Nightlight, the dossier was translated into Russian and sent to the Kyrgyzstan embassy in Washington D.C. to be authenticated. We also submitted our I-600A which was the form sent to the US Immigration office requesting that we be allowed to bring home a foreign born orphan. At the end of February we were #3 on the list with one family wanting a baby girl and one without a preference. Things were moving along great and Ansley and I even picked out a few baby blankets and some nursery items for the baby. It was starting to feel "real". We were going to be blessed with another child.

March 2008:

Our dossier made it to the embassy in D.C. and at the end of the month we received our I-171H. The I-171H is the form from the US govt that approved us to adopt a foreign orphan. We were #2 on the list and things were just going too smoothly. We had actually been #1 but one of the families in front of us lost a referral when the biological mother returned. We were OK with that and glad that the rights of the mother's were being protected.

Apring 2008:

At the beginning of the month, our dossier completed it's journey through the embassy and was authenticated and sent off to Kyrgyzstan. Things were just going too smoothly - our homestudy and dossier document gathering process was done in 6 weeks, our I-171H took only 5 weeks and our dossier made it through the embassy in just over 4 weeks. And people said that IA was difficult.....

Shortly after that another family in front of us lost their referral and we moved BACK again, now we were in the #3 spot. The court system in Bishkek had also completely stalled out and there were concerns because families had been waiting over 4 months between their first and second trips and still no sign of when they would be able to go and pick up their babies. This was a huge concern because our agency's main source of referrals is the baby house in Bishkek. By the way, Biskek is the capital of Bishkek. There were also some big changes at the Ministry of Education in Kyrgyzstan and with that came some "re-organization". Referrals stopped and the Embassy stopped processing dossiers. Thank goodness ours made it through in just the nick of time. We were starting to understand why they say that IA is not for the faint of heart. It seemed like the further we went along on this journey the more scary it was becoming.

Luckily, I have had the pleasure of forming relationships with several other women in the same position ( same agency and all of us in different stages of waiting) and it is through that network that I have been able to keep the hope alive and at the same time have an ongoing dose of realty, whether I like it or not. Thanks Posse'!!!!!

May 2008:

May started out tough for all of the above reasons. In fact, I was so discouraged that our hope for a baby from Kyrgyztan was about to end that I even started returning some of the nursery items and gathered all the receipts to see when things had to be returned by. Ansley was picking up on my fears and had even started telling her teachers that we were not going to be getting a new baby sister. However, as the month played out things in Kyrgyzstan started moving again and on May 27th we got an email from our Nightlight coordinator telling us that we were in the #1 position!!! The Bishkek court issue has still not righted itself but the referrals infront of us are not from that region and we have been told that ours will not likely be from there either. We have also been told that the court issues are isolated to Bishkek only and we should be able to move through the process "smoothly" if the baby comes from elsewhere. Notice that I am definitely worried about this rollercoaster ride that we are on but can't help but be excited about potential for another little person in our family.

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