Posted by: Kristin W | December 6, 2009

The Process

So, the paperwork continues.  Many of you have asked about the process (and more specifically, the timeline), so I thought I’d give an overview of the steps (as I understand them):

Step 1 – Home Study – this is where a social worker gathers every known document about your life, interviews you, visits your home and determines if you are fit to be parents.  Miraculously, we passed this stage.

Step 2 – USCIS Approval – Once again, you gather a set of paperwork and send it off to the US government.  They then process the paperwork and assign you a fingerprint date.  We will drive to Jacksonville (nearest USCIS office) for fingerprinting, then the US government will determine whether we are fit to be parents.

Step 3 – Dossier – And one last time, you gather up a bunch of paperwork, this time for the Ethiopian government.  They review it to see if you are fit to be parents.

Step 4 – Wait.  If we are lucky enough to be deemed fit by all three, then we go on the official “waiting” list.  Our agency in Massachusetts works with orphanages in Ethiopia to find a match for our family.  We have requested siblings who are both under four years old.

Step 5 – Referral – When the agency finds a potential match, they will send us information on those two children, including their medical history.  We have seven days to get the medical information reviewed and determine whether we will accept these kids.

Step 6 – Court – Our paperwork is handled in Ethiopia by a power of attorney who goes to court on our behalf and we officially adopt the children in the eyes of the Ethiopian government.  It takes some families several times to pass court, but once we do, the children are officially ours.

Step 7 – Travel and Visas – Shortly thereafter (will get 2-4 weeks notice), we will travel to Ethiopia to get our kids.  While there, we will go to the US Embassy, show them that we’ve legally adopted the kids, and they will grant Visas for the kids to enter the US.

Step 8 – Readoption – Once home, they’ll be readopted under US laws and given US birth certificates.

So, where are we in the process?  We have completed Step 1.  We’ve sent in our paperwork for Step 2, but are waiting for a fingerprint date.  We’re collecting documents for Step 3.  (As an aside, for anyone planning on adopting, I would recommend getting 4-5 certified copies of your birth certificate at the very beginning – you need a new one at almost every step.)  We’ve applied for new passports for the whole family in preparation for Step 7.


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