There have been changes to the adoption process since the last time we adopted. One of the changes is the dossier requirement for federal background checks rather than state background checks. Last time we could request the state background check and get apostilles with our other paperwork in our home state. (For those who don't know, apostilles are a state or federal certification to send to a foreign government verifying the notary or official who signed the document.) Now the adoption authority in Eastern Europe requires an FBI background check. These are more complicated. You need to send your fingerprints to the FBI itself and then you need to get an apostille from Washington DC. Both of those take a lot longer.
Now, the good news on the fingerprints is that there are also approved fingerprint channelers who can process your fingerprints for the FBI, speeding up that part of the paperwork. Apostilles are more complicated. It takes a long time to receive them if you mail them yourself, so most people use couriers. The main courier recommended by the fingerprint channeler has been taking a very long time to obtain apostilles and return documents. One family waited nearly five weeks!
One of the stacks of paperwork I gave my husband to mail was our package to send to that courier. And then I started talking with other families. They were waiting and waiting for paperwork! What were we going to do? We are hoping for a fast approval from immigration. I was worried we would have our approval and still be waiting on those background checks to get their apostilles. Another family had used a different, much faster, courier with their last adoption. I fretted. I grumbled. My husband came home and I complained some more. Then he had something to tell me.
It turns out that my package hadn't been sent out. It was sitting in the back of the car. Between his very busy work schedule and other appointments and general life craziness, it was still in the car. We mailed it to the other courier and had our papers back in a week. The company is called Caring Hands and they were great. Their prices were slightly less than the other courier. They were super fast and they even called to make sure we would be home for Saturday delivery! We would still be waiting if our documents had been sent out as planned! I was so thankful this time that things didn't go as planned!
We had another blessing in disguise moment getting apostilles here in our state. Our medical papers took many, many tries to get right this time. Some redos were for our homestudy and some were for our dossier. We were told the regular person who does forms went out of the country, and we spent a lot of time fixing small errors. The problem with the dossier forms is that they are very specific. The notary for the medical complex was hard to track down and didn't follow the correct format. For the last redo we needed to hire our own notary to come to the office. We were given an available date of the next day by the doctor's office staff so we needed our notary on short notice! We were able to find one who could come after she finished a house closing in a different city.
The day of the appointment was super busy! In the morning we walked in to immigration to get fingerprints done for myself, my husband and Barton. Barton was nervous, but he did a great job. Everyone there was so good with him. Then I needed to head to the doctor's office for these papers. After that my husband was taking them to get apostilles.
The notary was running behind. There was an accident on the highway and she lost time to traffic on her way to the appointment. It is an hour and a half to the office where we get the apostilles. My husband hit the road with the finished papers with barely enough time to make it before they closed. But he hit traffic too. He arrived a couple minutes past closing.
The woman working in the office was about to lock the door when he walked in. He didn't have one or two papers. This wasn't going to be a couple extra minutes. He had almost all of our dossier. She hemmed and hawed for a moment, then asked to see what they were for. She took a look at the documents. She saw they were papers for adoption of children with special needs. She came out from behind the desk, hugged my husband, and said she could get them done.
When she finished and checked all of the apostilles, she hugged my husband again and talked to him. She told him that she had spent the whole afternoon frustrated that she was running behind and wouldn't be done right at closing. She usually has the computer and payment system turned off for the night right when they close. But she saw my husband walk up, saw what our papers were for, and said she knew that God had placed her there to be able to help us.
Wow. I didn't want to redo those medical forms. I was worried as we waited for the notary. I was hoping my husband didn't get a speeding ticket on his way to the apostille office! But it worked out for the best. My husband was able to share with her about the kids we have adopted and are planning to adopt. And she is now part of the amazing story of our kids and their adoption. That interaction was really powerful on both sides!
I'm hoping for more blessings in disguise. We've had a lot of struggles during this adoption process. Many of them are typical things that crop up for most families. Some haven't been!
Some of them have been financial. Rather than needing one or two appliance repairs, all of ours have needed to be repaired or replaced in the last six months. Rather than a few car repairs, my husband's work car was stolen the night before our homestudy visit. It was later totaled by the insurance company. Theo's awesome foot surgery was very successful, but we also needed to pay for it up front rather than be billed after the fact. We were planning on fencing our yard later, but our social worker preferred it to happen sooner.
One of our bigger financial struggles has been realizing that we will need to fundraise the remaining amount toward this adoption. We had planned to use the equity in our house to fund a lot of our remaining need. The bank has added additional requirements to us qualifying for that loan. Our home won't be eligible until next year, long after we need the money.
We have had struggles in the adoption process. We've shared many of these large and small struggles within a few adoption groups. The biggest one right now is our wait for our immigration approval. Amos turned 16 back in December. Typically families adopting older children are moved more quickly through the immigration process. Unfortunately we have not been at this point. In fact, according to what our officer said two weeks ago, our file likely hasn't even been viewed yet. We had hoped to have our approval by now.
We need that approval quickly. Last time we adopted Barton from the same court that Amos will go through. Instead of the typical timeline of less than two months, it was almost six months from my husband meeting Barton to bringing him home. That is an eternity for adoptions from this country! Another family who adopted from this area had an even lengthier court process than ours. We need all the time we can get if we are going to bring Amos home!
Right now all of these delays and obstacles are causing frustration. I'm truly hoping for the time that we will look back and see that these events were guiding us where we need to be. We have battled long and hard on the adoption path before. We've done it to get our kids home, especially Barton with his excruciatingly long process. We have worked to help our kids recover from neglect and trauma once they have come home. It has been worth it a million times over for us to have Theo, Orion, Barton and Evan in our family. I know the day will be coming when we complete this adoption and see how everything worked out and became a part of our family's story.
Me with Theo, Barton, Orion and Evan! Always worth the fight!
If you would like to help us get Amos, Daisy, Lee and Violet home, we would greatly appreciate any support you can offer. We need our FSP to read $27,500. The mountain ahead of us looks tall, but we will climb it. You can make a tax-deductible donation to our FSP HERE. We will also be having an auction in one week! Go check it out HERE! We are still accepting donations!