Thursday, August 28, 2008

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Adoption

Things I wish I knew Before I Started Adoption
International Adoption information:

As soon as you sign the contract for your agency, download application I 600 A from the U.S. Department of Homeland security web site. Submit with a cover letter stating that you will send your home study as soon as it's completed.

Begin your home study A.S.A.P. Ask ahead of time what documents you will need and take them to your first meeting. During the home visit, you will be asked for a biography. Work on this ahead of time.

Your agency may require adoptive parent credit hours. Begin these as soon as possible. There are on-line classes you can take for free, or find out if there is an adoption seminar you. You can take on-line classes for credit through

The USCIS will issue an order for you to be fingerprinted…do it as soon as you can as the results can take up to eight weeks.

Contact the Secretary of State in which you were born/married and order copies of those documents. Also, request them to be authenticated at the same time, saving time and shipping costs. (you must know the country you are adopting from, since all countries have different requirements). Or, you can order your documents through the Vita check web site. (you will receive your documents within days instead of weeks)

If you were born out of the counry, make sure you know how to order copies of your birth certificate and get copies of it as soon as possible. They will also need to be authenticated (apostilled or certified).

Submit your fingerprints to your local police station as soon as possible, as sometimes the results can take up to 8 weeks.

When you start your dossier, ask for two or three original copies of what you need. Have one or two notarized. Leave the other one or two alone in case you need them notarized at another time.

When you take your documents to be notarized, make sure that the notary does not expire for at least a year. If you are not close to completing the process by the time the notary expires, try to take the un-notarized copies to another notary. If your notary expires before your court date, your documents would need to be re-done. Therefore, if you have extra original copies of your dossier, you can have them notarized and apostilled in a jiffy.

When you notarize the documents for your dossier, photocopy them before you get them notarized or apostilled. Once they are apostilled, it's harder to photocopy. Also, if you need an extra copy of your document without the notaryl you will have copies of it. When you get them apostilled, you'll have to photocopy the apostille as well.

Make friends with a notary public. Try to get all your documents notarized by the same person. This will make getting your documents apostilled easier and faster.

When you are ready to have your documents apostilled (or certified, whatever language your agency uses) try to go to your state's capital if you live near enough, or to the largest city that has the office you need. In Illinois it's the Secretary of State's office at 17 State Street, level 10. If you can go to the office, go in person. Arrive as early as they open. This way, you are sure to get your documents done while you wait. When you send them in to the office, it will take weeks for them to get to the documents and you have to pay for shipping.

Your agency might ask you to set up a FedEx account (or another mail service). If you choose FedEx, you can go online to their web site and order envelopes and air bills. Order at least the air bills because they print your return address information and account number on the forms. Having them in your home will make it easier when you need to send something out to your agency.

Stay organized. Don't let the photocopies and originals get all mixed up. Keep them all separate in folders clearly marked.

Be prepared for unexpected costs. While the contract may say that your adoption costs $21,000 in reality, it may cost about $35-40,000. This is because the agency doesn't take into account the fees for applying for the I-600 A and the fingerprinting, and also the postal costs, photocopying fees, etc…

Invest in a printer that acts as a photocopier, scanner, and fax machine. You might be able to find a really good one on sale, or through craig's list, ebay or garage sale. You will save a lot of money and time by being able to do it at home.

Have a stack of post-it notes close at hand when you are working with your documents. That way, you can write memos to yourself about what needs to be done with each page.

When your agency e-mails or sends you the documents necessary for the dossier, save them to your computer. That way, if you mess up a copy, you can easily print another one. You should also consider saving a copy once you fill it out. You can always print it and write "I affirm that this is a copy of an original document" to have it notarized. It will save you a lot of heartache to have to re-do the page if, say, the notary expires. If you have a photocopy on file (without a notary signature), you can print off a copy and get that one notarized. Also save a notarized version in case your agency looses their copy. You can print off a copy for them and still keep your copies. Save a copy of the apostille for each page as well in case you need to print off a copy of the apostille.

I hope these tips help, and if you have any advice, please let me know!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We have made huge leaps since I last posted. Was it only two weeks ago? Anyway, last Wednesday we had our appointment to get fingerprinted. I received the Police Clearances yesterday. We also had our doctor's appointments on Thursday. Today I picked up all the test results from the chest x-rays and the bloodwork. I also picked up the long-awaited letter from the doctor. I hope that it is sufficient. I e-mailed it to our case worker, and I'm waiting for a response. I don't know if no response is a positive thing or not.

I hope to have everything notarized tomorrow and perhaps by Thursday I will be able to go downtown and have everything apostilled. If it goes smoothly like that, I can send everything to the agency by Friday or Monday. That's it. Our whole second dossier is complete. After everything is notarized, I will photocopy everything. Then when it's all been apostilled, I will photocopy the apostilles. It will be a big packet I send to the agency. Not only will I have to send the agency's copies, but I also have to send an additional three copies for their co-agency.

We are praying that we meet no new challenges. We have struggled so hard for this adoption, and I pray that we are met with relative smooth sailing from now on. (minor problems are ok...but no more big stuff, please!)

I'll post again once we hear something.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A little progress

It took us over three weeks to finally get his neurologist to fax his medical records to our family doctor. We called them after three weeks and explained that we only need the two years surrounding the surgeries. Within 24 hours, the files were at our doctor's office. Big progress there. We also scheduled our physicals for August 25. I sent our agency an update, and we were asked if we could get a physical sooner. So, we called the doctor and re-scheduled for Aug. 14. We also ordered the papers for our background checks that takes four to six weeks to get the results. However, the agency e-mailed and asked if we can get our fingerprints done instead, which only takes 24 hours. We would then call the State Police and ask them to send us a letter of clearance.

I'm a little anxious to find out why we are all of a sudden in a hurry to get all our paperwork in. We pray that we will be able to travel by the end of September. After we get the police clearances and medicals, our second part of the dossier is complete. We've had the majority of it done since April. We were supposed to take the bulk of it with us to Russia and hand it over to the translator to be translated while we were waiting for our second trip. However, we were asked at the last minute to hang on to them and make extra copies. So, we will be sending the entire dossier to Russia to be translated, and I have no idea how long that will take.

That's all the news we have for now. Hopefully, I'll have some more positive news another day. We are still unsure if Russia will still be allowing us to continue even after our doctor writes the note. We'll just have to wait and see. I'm thinking our agency is positive we will continue because we were told a month ago not to do the rest of our paperwork until our doctor had written the note and the agency had a chance to "guess" if Russia would be willing for us to continue. Obviously they've had a change of heart because not only are they asking for us to go ahead and do the paperwork, they are also asking us to do it "in a hurry".

More later.....