Archive for September, 2007
Deciding to become a parent through international adoption is like planning a trip to Australia. You’ve heard it’s a wonderful place. You’ve read many guidebooks and feel certain you’re ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.
So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you: You’ll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait – and wait – and wait.
Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, “Relax, you’ll get on a flight soon.” Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, “It’s not fair!”
After a long time the ticket agent tells you, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat.”
“By boat!” you say, “going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money, I really had my heart set on going by plane.” So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.
It’s a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends and family have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.
Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than air.
People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but in your lifetime you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, “Oh, be glad you didn’t fly. My flight was horrible: traveling by sea is so easy.”
You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you got there, but in the place itself.
Hi All! I have been putting off writing up my timeline for too long. I have gotten so much help by reading other people’s timelines so it is time for me to write one up so it may help others who are in the process and looking for an idea of how long each step should take. I have made it as detailed as I can.
TIMELINE FROM MAY 23RD UNTIL NOW (SEPT 24TH)
May 1st – Made the decision to pursue an international adoption.
May 1st-May11th – Spent at least 20 hours on the internet (can you say late night surfing?) investigating countries and agencies.
May 11th – Made the decision to use Adoption Ark. Emailed their representative regarding a little girl written about on their website.
May 14th – Received preliminary information about LG from Adoption Ark and was told she resided in the country of Kazakhstan.
May 14th – May 21st – Scoured the Internet for information about Adoption Ark and talked to four different families who have recently used Adoption Ark for referrals.
May 22nd – Dropped off signed contract at Adoption Ark’s offices.
May 29th – Received list of requirements for Kazakhstan Dossier – The Paperchase Begins.
May 31st – Mailed off for original copies of my birth certificates from Vital Statistics Office in DC.
June 6th – Fingerprints #1 and #2
June 19th – LG turns six years old today – Started blog
June 27th – Fingerprinting #3
July 5th – Homestudy meeting #1 at my house
July 12th – Birth Certificate arrives – FINALLY!!!!!
July 12th- Passport applied for.
July 12th – I-600A sent in to the Chicago office of USCIS.
July 12th – FBI Clearance arrives in mail
July 14th – Homestudy Meeting #1 (Take Two)
July 15th – Kaz picnic in Huntley, Illinois
July 17th – Receipt date for I-600A
July 18th – All items submitted for US requirements to adopt.
July 20th – Homestudy finished and sent in to USCIS for I-600A.
August 8th – USCIS Fingerprint appointment – Fingerprinting #4
August 14 – Passport arrives
September 11 – Sent Dossier to Adoption Ark (minus the 171-H, which is the approval of the form I-600A)
September 13th – Adoption Ark receives my Dossier
September 20 – 171-H arrives and is overnighted to Adoption Ark.
September 24th – Finally write up timeline.
TIMELINE FROM SEPTEMBER 24TH AND ON – AS BEST AS I CAN TELL
September 13th – September 30th – Dossier in translation and then back to my agency for compiling.
October 1st – October 27th – Dossier sent to Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington DC or is it NY? One or the other.
October 28th – January 31st – Dossier sent first to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Kazakhstan – then to the Ministry of Education (MOE) also in Kazakhstan – then usually back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again before they issue the Letter of Invitation (LOI). LOI is the letter that authorizes you to travel to get your child.
February 1st-12th – Should receive LOI in this time frame.
February 10th – February 20th – I should be traveling!
This is very likely pretty close to what my timeline should look like and if this is close then that means that I am exactly 1/2 way through the entire process from start of adoption to first travel date or as I like to call it BC – Before Child. I will just leave the whole travel timeline as the AC – After Child portion.
Okay, so now that the paperwork is out of my hands and on its way I have discovered a new stressor. I recently got an email sent to me by my adoption coordinator and before I opened it, I froze up. Was she writing me to tell me that CP was no longer available? I think since I have been sidelined from the parenting experience before that I am almost holding my breath now – especially since I am getting closer – five months to me is closer, can you believe it? So, when I saw her email in my inbox I was afraid to open it up. I am pretty certain that if this happened she would phone me about it rather than email the bad news but still I was afraid. I mean all the paperwork is done now and even though she will be emailing me to keep me updated on the progress of my dossier, for the most part the emails should be less frequent. So, of course, I got worried. It was not bad news just news. And I relaxed, sort of. I wonder what the record is for holding one’s breath? Somebody better call Guinness. That is, the world record people….oh heck, you might as well call the beer people too.
How exciting is this! Yesterday, before I got home and found the approval in the mail, I was fuming while looking at the USCIS webpage. Recently, their already uncommunicative webpage went from being unbelievably inadequate to horribly inadequate. They use to at least tell you what file dates they were working on. For instance, last month 8/16 they updated their processing time webpage to say that I-600A and the approval 171-H forms that were being processsed had filing receipt dates of 5/12. This month on 9/16 they updated their webpage and the only thing it said was that the processing time was three months….no date…I guess that was too commital for them. Believe it or not it can get worse because I was checking other states and their processing times had dates but the worst one was five months out.
So, last night after getting the beloved 171-H and doing a dance of joy (and knowing the next day was chock full of craziness I would not be able to get away from) I devised a way to get my 171-H notorized and apostilled today so I could overnight it to Alla. I came in to the office this morning looking for a volunteer. Kim the very nice lady that works in our offices said she would go get it apostilled. At 11:00 I ran the deposit to our bank and at the same time got the form notorized. Then at 1:00 Kim took the Metra downtown, then hopped a cab and took it to the Secratary of State’s Office for Apostilles. For some reason they didn’t finish her one apostille until the very end. Other people came in after her and received their documents back before her…go figure. She then hopped another cab back to the Metra and rode the train back to Lombard. At 4:45 she deliverd the finished apostilled document into my hands. Thank you so much Kim!!!
I made the requisite copies and put them into the UPS letter and at 5:30 I dropped it off at the UPS office. So that is the last of it. Except….you knew there would be an except didn’t you?….haven’t you all learned by now that in international adoption it is over and finished except for just one more document……well in my case, it is the items that will soon expire….no I am not including myself in that list….I am talking about those darn FBI clearances(just to make sure I have not committed some crime in the last three months – does killing a lot of trees count? – How about thinking unpleasant thoughts about government officials?), the medical report (to make sure I have not contracted one of the diseases that makes you ineligible – I don’t have leprosy!….What! I just misplaced my right arm….it happens all the time!) wait wait I have a better one….(Hey, just because I’ve lost my mind doesn’t mean I have leprosy!!! my mind is small and it occasionally slips out of my head via my ear!) and the last thing is the employment letter…..heehee, I could list a page of humorous remarks but people I work with might be reading.
In November I should be heading downtown to apostille the second copies of these items….or maybe I will reserve Kim’s services in advance. Kim?
Then I will truly be done. …..except….oh who am I kidding
Okay, just had to quickly post this because I found it funny. I was checking the blog statistics and saw that someone had found my blog through a search engine using the terms…. donkey pictures carrot. What exactly do you think they were looking for?
Here is a map of Kazakhstan for those that are interested. Double click on it to see the full sized version. I should be flying into Almaty and then traveling on to the region that CP is in….hint…It starts with the letter U. ; )
Hope you found me up here! I am responding to a comment by Ali from an earlier post and thought I would list it up here so it was viewable by more people.
Well, if you have made the decision to adopt from Kazakhstan then there are many resources with which you can check out your agency. Here is a link to a site that has some pretty good research tools.
Then there is the yahoo listserv that I joined to ask people who had already adopted about the agencies they used. It is
Don’t just join and ask about your agency – there is more you can do. Use the advanced search function to search the listserv for your agency – you will be able to see into the archives from people who have commented on their agency in the past – maybe they are not around anymore but their feedback is. There is also a database on that listserv that you can check out for your agency (agencies).
Karen’s website mentions the EEAC and ICAR registries. I googled each of those terms and got to those sites. I think you can get a decent amount of information from those sites but you must take the positive comments with a grain of salt since I believe the sites are affiliated with one or more agencies. The negative comments are more useful and can be used to eliminate possible agency contenders.
Then you could also do a google advanced search where you search blogger.com and wordpress.com blogs for the name of your adoption agency. This would be an eye opener.
Then there is Guidestar to check on non profits. Their website is:
You have to register to view the more important things and I think it is worth it. Once you register and log in you can search for your agency or agencies and pull up I believe it is the 990 report in PDF format. This report shows how much revenue the agency had…how much they give back to the orphanages in the form of contributions or improvements….it also shows you how much they pay their top employees. I am sure there are ways to hide some funds….like having the company pay for your car and things like this but still I think this part can be a real eye opener.
At this point in the game I feel that I know a lot more about how adoption works in Kazakhstan than I did when I picked my agency. I did do a lot of research and feel very good about the agency I chose but can share with you what I have learned since then.
In the country of Kazakhstan I would say that World Partners Agency out of Georgia does the most adoptions out of Kazakhstan. There are countless blogs at the site www.kazakhadoptivefamilies.com website where the family lists them as their agency or mentions the in country coordinators known as “the Sisters” both of them have names that start with the letter G…Gulman something like this. This agency does a volume of adoptions and they seem to work like clockwork. On the downside (if there is one) I would say they might be more $$$ but I don’t know this for certain.
Next seems to come a small number of agencies that seem to vie for second in place – as far as volume goes. I believe my agency Adoption Ark (you can find the link to their website on the right side of my blog) is in this group with others like the Frank Foundation. They seem very knowledgable and have established relationships within the Kazakhstan adoption community. And this is very important. Because the more I read the more I realize that when an adoption agency does adoptions in Kazakhstan they are dealing with certain orphanages that they have good relationships with. They don’t seem to just bounce from one orphanage to another. And each orphanage seems to deal with anywhere from one to maybe as many as five agencies. So I would assume it would be better to be with an agency that does at least 24 adoptions out of Kazakhstan a year – 50 would be better – that has been doing adoptions out of Kazakhstan for at least three years – Kazakhstan has not been open for international adoptions that long so you can’t really say more than 7 years because that wouldn’t be possible to find.
That being said I would say that I have so far had an excellent experience with my agency Adoption Ark. And I really did try and find bad stuff but to no avail. Which is a good thing. They are thorough and highly competent and I actually feel really safe about the whole experience. Being a businesswoman myself I can pretty quickly tell if I am dealing with someone that knows their stuff and is detail oriented and that is exactly the feeling I get from Adoption Ark. But of course I would never just take someone else’s opinon…go check for yourself. There are several great agencies out there. Good luck!
I still have to work on my second required photo album for Kazakhstan. It will be used when I first get to Kazakhstan and meet with the representative of the Ministry of Education, the orphanage director and the orphanage doctor. Then it will be used again when I go to court where it will be shown to the judge and prosecutor. But most importantly it will be used to show CP where she will be living.
I am supposed to use different pictures than the ones that I sent with my dossier but um…I do not know how that is really possible. If you take a picture of my living room on one day and then take another picture a month later….they still look the same…unless they want the completely spotless vs. really messy versions. That, I can certainly give them. Anyway, I will probably spend part of the weekend trying to take shots of my home from different angles….how about a shot of the dining room while hanging from the ceiling…or a shot taken while sitting on the floor….how about one of those sideway shots? Whatever. In the meantime, I am posting a few of the pictures I used for photo album #1 included in my dossier. Jackie check out my new (redone in 2005) kitchen. Lundie this is what my house looks like, in case you never make it over! Just teasing! Enjoy my Easter egg of a house. No boring neutrals for me! Beige?…what is that?
Next week I will post a few shots of CP’s bedroom. I am still finishing it up. I actually repainted it four times because I could not find the shade of pink I liked. I finally ended up picking the color that I had started out with in the beginning. I am usually not this picky but I figure what the heck I’ve got four+ months to wait till I could even possibly hope to travel. I could repaint a hundred times and still be ready in time. Have a great weekend!
For some reason WordPress is not letting me comment back to those people who have left comments so I am going to respond here.
Wow, you must be very observant also! We are like Cagney and Lacey. Which one do you want to be?
Thanks for the tip about the Georgian. I am writing it down in my travel book right now!
Thanks for the congrats! I can hardly believe that it is finished myself.
It does feel great! I am so glad to have that mountain of paperwork out of here!
A quick note to say that my dossier arrived at the agency this morning! I just got an email from my coordinator telling me it was a great dossier. Which made me feel good! Plus, since she doesn’t have to spend time going over it and having me redo items (she said she is mailing it today to the translators!) that probably will shave a little bit more time off of my wait. I knew being anal and going over that thing with a fine tooth comb at least three times in the last two weeks would be worth it. She is going to keep me posted about where my dossier is and what is happening with it. And I will keep you posted as well.