Taking Off the Blindfold

Well, it has been a long and busy week that has left my brain feeling like mush, so prepare for blog post that is probably full of typos and spelling errors.  The good news is that it is the first day of spring, and it seems to haven been the wake up call that Mother Nature needed.  As I type, I’m sitting next to an open window with a nice spring gently blowing in.  My favorite season is any time that my windows can be open, so I am a happy camper.  The house is full of six-month-old air, and breeze is doing it (and my sanity) a world of good.

On the adoption front, there is lots to report!  Things are getting real, people.  Last weekend, I had the chance to talk with an adoptive mama that our agency connected us with.  She and her husband adopted four kids (FOUR.) at once, all from the same country as us, and are now in the process of adopting three more (THREE MORE.).  Seriously.  It makes adopting one at a time sound like a breeze!

Getting to hear from her was beyond encouraging.  We’ve basically been going through this process blind.  Fun Fact:  Our agency has never worked with the country we adopting from before.  That’s right, we are the guinea pigs.  They were planning on starting a program for this particular country eventually, but when a series of random events connected us (and them) to Baby M, that time became NOW.  Needless to say, we have all been learning this from scratch together.  However, I would not change a single thing because they are wonderful.blindcrossing

The downside of this country being new to our agency is that we have been in the dark through this whole process.  There are no past adoptive families who figured out time frames, trip details, or paperwork requirements.  There is no one to look at and compare our process to theirs.  It has made things stressful, especially for a planner like myself, but I am 100% that God orchestrated the weird combination of circumstances that brought us to adopting from a country we never thought of, in a time frame we never expected, with an agency that has never done this before to teach us a few major lessons that we might not have learned otherwise.  For one, it’s knocking all of the control freak-ness right out of me, because I HAVE NO CHOICE.  Plus, I like knowing that our experience will help future families adopting from this country through our agency.  Someone had to go first, and it might as well be us.

All this to say, talking with this experienced Adoptive Mama was like taking off the blindfold and seeing the path unfurl in front of us.  And boy, does it look good.  She had nothing but positive things to say about their experience working with this country – a rarity in international adoption, to say the least.  The process is completely focused on the well-being of the child and making an adoptive family’s process of meeting and unifying as best as possible – again, not always the case.  It makes me beyond thrilled that we just randomly happened upon adopting from this country when we knew absolutely nothing about what it would be like.

 

Here is what we know about what we can expect for the rest of our journey:

The Dossier.  This is what we are working on now.  The dossier is basically a giant stack of paperwork that sums up your entire existence.  I wish this was an exaggeration.  We are currently in the process of assembling said paperwork, and will hopefully be finished with a couple of weeks.  Once we acquire all of these documents, they all have to be notarized and then apostilled (a type of document certification and verification that is recognized internationally).  The notarizing can be done pretty easily.  The apostilles all have to be done at the Secretary of State’s office in Des Moines, which means we have another day trip there coming up.  Once all of this is completed, it will be sent to our adoptive country and translated. (Estimated completion: Mid-April)

The Approval/Referral.  Once our dossier is translated, we have to accept a referral for Baby M.  By the adoptive country’s standards, we have already been officially matched with him, so this part is a bit of technicality.  The country operates under the supervision of what is called the Hague Convention (sort of like the U.N. of adoptions), and they require a formal acceptance of Baby M by us to satisfy their paperwork.  Theoretically, this process should not take long.  Most families do a lot of waiting at this point, because they haven’t yet identified a specific child to adopt, and they are waiting for the country to pick a child to “refer” to them.  We accidentally got around this waiting period, what with finding out about Baby M months ago.  Again, freaky circumstances.  Our estimation is that it might take 2-3 months for them to formalize everything. (Estimated completion: Mid-June – Mid-July)

Trip #1.   Once all of that has happened, the adoptive country will contact us and tell us that we have been approved to travel.  We’ll then pack our bags and head to Eastern Europe!  We’ll have about a day to adjust to the time difference, then we will go to Baby M’s foster home to meet him!  It is so important to us that we meet Baby M in a place where he is comfortable to start the attachment process off well, so we are thrilled that this is how it will happen.  We will be in this country for 5-7 days, during which we will either stay with Baby M’s foster family, or nearby.  This will be our chance to bond with him and interact with his foster family, and bombard them with approximately 12,837 questions.  CANNOT WAIT.  (Estimated timing of Trip #1: Mid-June – Mid- July)

USCIS Paperwork.  Once we are back stateside, we’ll be doing tons of paperwork with our friends at the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services.  As soon as that is wrapped up, we will be approved for The Big Trip.  The USCIS paperwork stage can take 2-4 months.  (Estimated completion of paperwork:  Mid to late summer)

The Big One (aka Trip #2).  Our main trip to Eastern Europe will last 6-8 weeks.  Yep.  It’s a doozy.  Once again, we’ll have about a day to adjust before we go to Baby M’s foster home.  The first 1-3 weeks (the time period is set by a judge – we’re planning on three) are a family bonding period.  Alex, Baby M, and I will basically spend those three weeks living together in a small apartment or hotel suite, with one job: Bonding!  This will be an extremely important time for us, as it will be the first time we live together as a family of three.  After those three weeks are up, we will all go together for a court date to officially complete our adoption (Gotcha Day!).  At that point, our adoption is finished and we are officially Mommy, Daddy & Baby Laird!  The rest of our time in Eastern Europe will be spent in the capital city, getting the necessary documents to allow Baby M to travel out of the country and home to the United States, which can take 4-5 weeks.  During this time we will continue intensive bonding, sightseeing, and getting to know each other before our trek home.  We are hoping that at some point during this portion of our trip, my younger sister will fly over to help out, particularly on our journey back to the States.  Fun Fact:  I hate flying.  Alex just told me our flight will be 14 hours long, and I already want to throw up.  Poor Alex will definitely need my sister there while I am in a corner hyperventilating.   (Estimated timing of Trip #2: Late summer to early fall.)

 

Of course, this is all extremely hypothetical.  The steps themselves will all happen, the harder part to predict is the timing.  Lord willing, it will all happen sooner rather than later, as we are very anxious to be together as a family.  Please, please, please join us in praying us through this process!

 

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  • Stephen Willcox

    I am so excited. We are praying for you guys! Love you!

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