So, in case you didn't know, the adoption process is very... complicated, to say the least. I have 4 different manuals that are 40+ pages each. From these manuals I have to gather and submit various documents and applications to enable the adoption process. So, here is where things stand:
Gladney Application- This document includes several legal agreements and waivers between my adoption agency and myself. It also includes a series of information and documents about Abigail and me that allow the agency to determine1) if I would be a good adoptive parent, and 2) if Ethiopia would let me adopt. Currently I am waiting on three documents to complete my application: health waiver for me, health waiver for Abigail, and a copy of my official divorce decree. This application must be submitted with my initial program fee of $2,600.
Home Study- The home study is conducted by a licensed social worker. The social worker comes to my house and conducts an interview and investigates the home to determine the appropriateness of my home for an adopted child. The social worker determines the desired age and sex of the adoptive child, and what I can "handle" (ie- a family may want to adopt twins age 3-5 but the social worker may determine that the family can only adopt one child age 3-5, but is eligible for twins less than 3 years old.) They provide education and resources for me to help prepare Abigail and me for the adoption. The agency also conducts post-placement visits to make sure things are going well. Because Ethiopia requires that 3 post-placement visits be pre-paid before they will approve you to adopt, my application for the home study must be submitted not only with the cost of the home study but the payment for 3 post-placement visits which, before fees and travel expenses, totals $2125. I am almost ready to submit my application- I am just waiting on the funding.
I600A- This document is submitted to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). This is my application to bring an adopted child into the US. This form triggers the USCIS to fingerprint me, and also results in an I171H or I797C which is my official "approval" to bring a child into the country. My application is complete but I am waiting on a copy of my divorce decree and the $750 fee.
Ethiopia Dossier- The dossier is the collection of documents that is submitted to the Ethiopian government to prove my ability to care for a child. This includes documents such as a certified copy of my birth certificate and divorce decree, a financial statement, my completed home study, health clearances and proof of blood work, proof of employment/income/health insurance/life insurance, letters of reference, a copy of my passport, and pictures of my family and home (among other things.) The dossier cannot be completed until the home study is complete, so I am not concerned with the fact that I have only gathered about half of the required documents. The final piece of the dossier (the last one to be obtained) is generally the I171H or I797C. Once the dossier collection is complete, it will go through a series of authentication on the US side and then be submitted to Ethiopia's Ministry of Women's Affairs.
Once the dossier is submitted to Ethiopia, they review it and give approval for me to adopt. At that point I become eligible to receive a referral (Gladney reports about a 3 month wait time for an approval- some are more and some are less. Babies and sibling groups may have a longer wait time, as do girls. However, most people I've talked to got their referral much more quickly than Gladney reports:) Once the referral is accepted, a Child Acceptance Agreement is sent to Ethiopia. Ethiopia determines a court date, and on that date the child legally becomes mine. The notification of the upcoming court date is my cue to get my airline tickets since most people travel just a few weeks after their court date. Then, 5-10 days are spent in Ethiopia bonding and finishing other required paperwork (and getting the kiddo's Visa) and HOME FOREVER!
So, that's where things are on my end. Hopefully Cook County can get going and get my certified divorce decree to me! (I already received my and Abigail's certified birth certificates over a week ago!) Come ON Co-Co!