I seriously thought this would take months to come, but today we received our letter of approval from Immigration! I am so freaking excited! Now all we have to do is get notarizations for that and our budget worksheet and we are done with all of our paperwork! Then, as soon as Kate gets everything authenticated for us, we can be placed on the wait list. Oh happy day!
I am so excited to announce that our very good friends, John and Janet, have had a beautiful baby boy named Cole Bradley! Cole was born at 4:30 AM on Feb. 20, 6lb 9oz at Northwestern Hospital. We went to see him yesterday and he is so beautiful! Poor Cole has to spend 7 days in the NICU because they say he has an infection. It's really just an elevated white blood cell count, he seems totally fine. I got to hold him for a little bit, but I don't think it went very well. I was nervous because he is attached to monitors and an IV and I was so worried I was going to detach him! And he is so tiny! I think he was thinking, man this lady is not doing this right. Anyway, we are so excited for John and Janet and we are totally going to be practicing on little Cole. We clearly need all the practice we can get :-) And we can't wait for Baby McBride and Cole to be playmates! Here are a couple of pics:
Look at this little face!
BTW, nothing has happened on the adoption front. Still just waiting for our CIS approval letter. Waiting and waiting and waiting.........
By my count, there are only two remaining pieces of our dossier to be handed in. One is our budget worksheet which has to be notarized, and the other is our I-171H from CIS. The first one will come quickly. We just have to get the form from KBS Dossiers in the mail, notarize, and send back. The other, well who knows when that is going to happen. Our homestudy has been sent to Immigration. But I just checked their website, and it seems that the Chicago field office is pretty far behind on processing these forms. I will try to keep an optimistic outlook, and hopefully we will receive it within the next two months (please oh please!)
So, as you can tell by reading so far, our homstudy is finally complete! It was a bit of a trial to make that happen. In order to understand why it took a while, let me explain a little bit about notarization as it pertains to international adoption. The personal notary stamp of the individual who is notarizing your document must not expire for at least a year and a half (and that is pushing it.) The reason for this, as explained to me best by my friend Catherine (who had it explained to her by our dossier service when she was getting a reference letter notarized for us) is that foreign governments view this expiration date as an expiration date for the document itself. So, if a document is notarized by someone who's stamp expires on say, 12/19/09, and our case has not passed court in Ethiopia at this point, that document will have expired. Such was the case of our homestudy. FRC sent out copies of our homestudy to us, Gladney and CIS, all notarized by an employee of FRC, whose notary stamp expires on said date. This was a wee bit upsetting because I just felt like, shouldn't you know this? You do homestudies for international adoptions, right? You have done this before, right? Anyway, to their credit, they were very quick in re-doing everything once I made them aware of the situation.
Another milestone we passed was finally getting approved to adopt by Gladney! (I sometimes secretly can't hardly believe that two agencies have approved us to adopt a baby. Really, us? I don't know, that seems so grown-up :-) With this approval, we have transitioned from our assistant case worker, Susanne, to our actual case-worker, Jessica. We had a conference call with Jessica last week. She is so nice and helpful (as everyone at Gladney has been, seriously, if you just stumbled upon this blog and are considering international adoption, these people are awesome and soooooo nice.) Jessica will be with us the rest of the way through this adoption process. She will be the one to call us with our referral and she will be the one to let us know if we have passed court. She gave us a rundown of the process from here on out. It seems that the average wait time for a referral right now is about 6.5 months. Once you have accepted your referral, its another 1 to 3 months just to get issued a court date, and another 10 weeks or so to have your first court date. She also made sure we understand that there are many different factors that go into passing court, and that it is a very challenging process that Gladney is not really in control of.
I can hardly believe we have already been on this adoption journey for about 6 months now. Looking back, I do wish that we had done some this differently. I wish that we had initiated the homestudy sooner, like right at the very beginning. And I wish we had been more vigilant about getting all of our documents and paperwork completed as fast as possible. But honestly, we had no idea what we were doing. And at least we will know better for the next time!
I'm Tam and my husband is Matt. Our names form a palindrome. We're just that cool.
We are hoping to add to our family by adopting our first child from Ethiopia. Please follow along as we journey through the process of international adoption.
7/12/08 Decide to adopt! Request and receive online information packet from Gladney 7/19 Send on-line information sheet to Gladney 8/1 Initial contact with Judy from the Gladney Center and receipt of international adoption manual and immigration form I-600A 8/6 Phone orientation. Request application from Family Resource Center for homestudy. 8/8 Mail in initial Gladney application 8/12 Receive full Gladney application and Ethiopian dossier manual by email 8/21 Get life insurance 8/28 FedEx form I-600A Doctor appointments for both of us. 8/30 Pick up completed medical form for Gladney app. from doctor 9/4 Pick up completed notarized medical form for dossier 9/11 Mail in application to Family Resource Center for homestudy 9/12 Receive receipt and acknowledgment of form I-600a from Immigration 9/13 Receive Matt's fingerprinting appointment letter for immigration 9/15 Receive Tam's fingerprinting appointment letter 9/23 Receive phone call from Kathy from FRC to set initial interview for homestudy 9/25 Fingerprints taken for both of us for immigration 10/2 In-office interview with Kathy from FRC 10/3 Mail in Gladney app. part 1 10/15 Fingerprints for IL foster parenting license 10/16 Cat vaccinations 10/17 Got Tam's employer letter 10/23 Picked up medical forms. Dropped off packet at FRC. Got Matt's employer letter. Talked to Linda from FRC and set homestudy for Nov. 13 10/24 Mail in Gladney app. parts 2 and 3 10/30 Contact Kate from KB Dossiers 11/13 Homestudy 11/18 Adoption class 12/9 Adoption class 1/8/2009 Compile and notarize many dossier documents. Get fingerprints (ink) and send them to FBI. 1/11 Adoption class 1/15 2 remaining adoption classes 1/22 Receive FBI "no arrest" records by FedEx 1/23 Receive finalized homestudy from FRC by mail 2/3 Email informing us we have received Gladney approval 2/5 Conference call with Jessica from Gladney 2/6 Receive really truly finalized homestudy from FRC by mail 2/12 Send remaining portion of fee to Gladney and FedEx FBI approval, homestudy and last reference letter to Kate 2/27 Receive I-171H in the mail 3/2 FedEx final documents to Kate 3/18 WAITLIST!!!!
The blogs I stalk, because they say the things I want to say, only better: