Sunday, July 1, 2007

The down and dirty details of the paper-chase

The photo above shows all of the documents that we compiled for our adoption dossier. Each pile is topped off by the Authentication from the Chinese Embassy - shown below.

In late 2005 I couldn’t wait to get started, so I consoled myself by working on the application to our adoption agency - one part not controlled by the state of Arkansas. We are using CCAI located in Denver, Colorado. Of all of the agencies I researched they were the only ones that I did not hear a single complaint about. They are so professional and very caring. If anyone is interested their website is Our timeline is as follows:

•12/28/5 - Approved by CCAI
•2/15/6 - Physicals
•2/06 - Collect letters of reference
•2/25/6 - Our first homestudy visit
•3/06 - Began collection of birth certificates, marriage certificate (each document had to be notarized locally, certified by the Secretary of State and then authenticated by the Chinese Embassy. The process for Gary’s b.c. cracked me up. I ordered it from the state of NY and received it in the mail. Then I had to send it back to NY to be certified by their Sec of State. Once I received it in the mail I had to return it to NY again, this time to the Chinese Embassy. So, just to get Gary’s b.c. ready for the dossier took a lot of mailing back and forth and about 6 weeks to complete.)
•3/06 - Got letters of employment, created adoption petition, created financial statement, got clearances from the local police department and the report of physicals from our doctor. Then got all of the above notarized locally, certified by the Secretary of State and authenticated by Chinese Embassy in Houston. [A couple of documents were not notarized to the satisfaction of the Sec. of State, so I had to take them back to the notary for revision. One particular document was done 3 times before it was accepted. The moral of the story is make sure your notary has read their manual and knows what they are doing.]
•3/25/6 - Our second homestudy visit
•4/24/6 - Homestudy complete (our second anniversary)
•4/06 - Fingerprinted and submitted I171H form to Dept. of Homeland Security
•6/06 - Received approval to adopt from Federal government
•6/06 - Got copy of I171H notarized
•6/6 - Hand delivered copy of I171H to the Secretary of State to be certified
•6/6 - Fedx I171H to Houston, TX where courier hand delivers it to the Chinese embassy to be authenticated
•6/16/6 - Dossier compilation complete - Dossier is now sent FedEx overnight to Denver for complete review and translation
•7/14/6 Our dossier passed review without a hitch. Now we are officially DTC.
•7/22/6 Dossier logged into China’s system (This is our official LID, or log in date - yeah!! :-)

Since there has been such a long delay we will have to apply for a new I171H and be re-fingerprinted. I really hope we don’t have to do this 2 more times. It’s quite a nerve racking process because you never know if they are going to find some tiny thing to question and make you start over again. It takes them 8-12 weeks to process your paperwork.

When we finally get our referral it will contain pictures of Natalie, her Chinese name, age, the name and location of her orphanage, and a brief summary of her personality and the part of her history that is known. After referral we will have about 8 weeks to go before we travel to China and meet Natalie for the first time. We will be in China with Natalie for about 12-16 days. Our adoption will become final the day after we meet her. We will spend the rest of the time in China getting her visa and passport and most importantly getting to know our daughter and letting her get to know her mama and daddy.

Gary and I requested a 12-18 month old girl. We had to put an age range down, so that is what we submitted in our dossier. It doesn’t mean much though. We will be matched from whatever group of children are available at the time that our dossier goes through the matching room in China. Natalie will likely be 10 - 12 months at referral. But, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, or 3 years, her age doesn’t really matter to us. We just want to bring Natalie home to the happy haus where she will be so loved and will likely be covered in Newfie slobber from Katie :-)