So, I have decided to start a blog so that our family and friends can follow along with where we are in the adoption process. This will also be where I will add updates and pictures when we are in Ukraine so that you can see what is going on while we are there.
Where to start -
Well, as most of you know, we are adopting a child from Ukraine. We have decided to adopt a little girl between the ages of 3 to 6. We are open to a special needs child as well. We are excited to add to our family and Morgan is so excited to have a sister.
The process -
We are doing what is considered an independent adoption. What that means is that we are not using an adoption agency here in the US. We are working with a facilitator in Ukraine who will translate all of our documents and will also travel with us and help us with the process while we are in Ukraine. The first step in adopting from Ukraine is putting together a dossier, which is basically our adoption application. The dossier consists of a bunch of papers such as a homestudy, medical forms for Joe and I, police clearances, employment verifications, etc. Once we have all of the documents together we have them notarized and apostilled (a verification of the notary at the state level required by Ukraine) and then send them to Ukraine to have them translated. Once the documents are translated we will get a place "in line" to submit our dossier to the Ukrainian government. The agency in Ukraine that controlls adoptions is called the SDA. Once our dossier is submitted to the SDA they will review everything. If they approve us for adoption we will be issued an appointment date to go to Ukraine and meet with the SDA. At this meeting with the SDA we will tell them what type of child we are requesting (one girl, ages 3-6, etc.) and they will pull files on the children in the orphanages that match our request as closely as possible. We will decide from the files we are shown which child we would like to go meet. Once we choose a child to meet we will be given a referral from the SDA that gives us permission to meet the child. We will then travel to the orphanage that the child is in and meet with the child. If we choose not to adopt that child we could go back to the SDA and wait for another appointment to see if they have any other files for us to review. We are only allowed to do this a maximum of three times. This could mean a lot of traveling for us! Ukraine is a fairly large country and the orphanages are located throughout the entire country. The SDA is located in the capital of Kiev and then depending on where the child is that we choose to meet we may have to travel across then country to do so. If we want another appointment with the SDA we will have to travel back to Kiev and then to the next orphanage, which could be in a totally different part of the country. Once we decide that we want to adopt a child we will notify the SDA that we want to proceed with the adoption. We will then be issued a court date, which is usually with in a few weeks. After the court date one parent can leave, and Joe will be returning home. After court there is a ten day waiting period where nothing can really be done. It is a mandatory wait period that is in place in case anyone wants to object to the adoption. During this wait period we are allowed to visit with the child and spend time with them. Once the wait period is over we would then start applying for a new birth certificate, passport, visa and have the medical exam done that is necessary to enter the US. This could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. When all of that is complete we are free to come home! The adoption is completed in Ukraine, so once we enter US soil the child will be legally ours.
Where we are in the process -
We have completed most of the paper work. All of the documents for our dossier are complete except for a paper called an I-171H approval which is issued by the USCIS (used to be INS). We have sent our application to them and are waiting for it to be processed. I have heard that this could take three months or more, but we are hoping that it will be quicker than that. Other than that all of our papers are together and have been notarized. I mailed them this morning to be apostilled. Once I get them back with the apostilles, I will FedEx them to our facilitator in Ukraine to start translating everything. Then we will only be waiting for that one paper which I will send to Ukraine as soon as it is in my hands. Once our facilitator has that last paper, she will get a spot in line to submit our dossier. I am praying that we will have everything over there by March at the latest and be able to submit before the end of May. Our documents can not be more than 6 months old when they are submitted to the SDA. Our oldest dated document will be 6 months old on May 24th, so if we don't submit by then I will have to start re-doing things we have already done. We are hoping this doesn't happen, but we won't know for a while.
I have added a button on the right of this blog toward the bottom where people can donate through PayPal. Adoption is expensive and we are trying to do this as debt free as possible. If you would have considered buying a gift when we bring our child home, would you possibly consider making a donation instead? While your gifts would be more than appreciated, this child will have more toys than she will know what to do with and more clothes than she could possibly wear just from what we already have from Morgan. Every little penny helps. Morgan is currently saving all of her change in her piggy bank to put into her "sister money". It is really sweet. I also understand that everyone has their own families and expenses, so if you can not give please do not feel obligated. We appreciate anything you do, but do not expect anything! If all you can offer is your prayers, good thoughts and support as we go through this journey, than that is more than enough!
Here is a little video that someone put together about the situation of the orphans in Ukraine -
I will continue to post updates here as things progress.