Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm back.

The trip was great. Very relaxing, but now I don't want to be back at work...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm off.....

About a month ago I planned a trip for this weekend to see one my most favorite friends. The plan was to be finished with my dossier and relax for a few days.

I made it! It was close - less than 18 hours between the time my dossier reached FTIA and the time I board the plane in the morning. I'm notorious for being a last minute packer, so I still have plenty to do tonight....

No work, no blogging, no checking yahoo groups :( , no stalking FedEx, no re-checking notary signatures and dates - just a few wonderful days in the mountains...

Enjoy the long weekend!

On the waiting list!




My coordinator is reporting 2-4 weeks wait. There is no guarantee on the wait time, could be longer. I should know something by 4th of July!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's COMPLETE!

My paperwork is complete. Here's what an Adoption Dossier looks like:









Once again, I love FedEx.





I spent my lunch hour compiling and organizing all my docs - 3 copies about 50 pages each. I was nervous and I was being very careful about carrying my stack of envelopes to head down to FedEx. I get in the elevator and intead of pressing "1" to go down to the lobby, I pressed the Fire ALARM!! Who knew that there was actually a button in the elevator that really made the fire alarm go off?

Now I wait for a call from my coordinator to let me know I'm on the list. Stay tuned...

The one man everyone is always happy to see....

I LOVE FedEx tracking -

May 23, 2007
8:10 AM
On FedEx vehicle for delivery
ERLANGER, KY

A few more hours and my docs will be back from Chicago!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Where are you now?

Waiting to go on the waiting list.

Waiting for my documents to get back from Chicago.

I received my 171-h last Friday. YEAH!!

Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting.

My life in 12 pictures or less

For my dossier, I had to compile a group of pictures that represented me. These had to include photos of me and my house (both interior and exterior). I also chose to include pictures of me with my family since I don't have a better half.

I was able to include pictures of everyone except my oldest niece. Unfortunately I don't have any recent pictures of us together - I think the last picture I have of us together is in our matching Old Navy sweaters in 2000. I'll have to find that pic and post it ;)







I found one of my niece. I'm still going to look for our 2000 pic!





The exterior photos were challenging because of my recent move. Luckily, R. helped me out and we coordinated around our neighborhood homeless, street vendors and various other riff-raff.





NOTE: We actually love all of our neighborhood homeless people that aren't rude, the guys with the $5 Guccis rock and the riff-raff are usually good for a street vocabulary lesson...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Step 2 - The Waiting List

Different agencies work in different ways. My agency requires that you complete your paperwork (dossier) and receive your approval from The Department of Homeland Security (form 171-h) before you will be matched with an available child.

Once you submit both of these items, the agency will place you on the waiting list. There is a separate waiting list for boys and girls. Families are chosen in order of their placement on this list with a few exceptions - if a sibling of a previously adopted child becomes available for adoption, that family is contacted first. If they are not able to adopt the child, the person on the waiting list that is the closest geographically will be contacted next to attempt to keep the biological siblings as close as possible. Other factors such as willingness to accept a special needs child factor into who gets selected from the waiting list.

The process of being matched with a child is often called the "referral". Again, different agencies, different countries, different procedures. My agency provides a photograph and some basic medical information.

I'm not quite on the waiting list. Still working on getting my documents back from Chicago.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Step 1 - The Paperchase

The first step in my adoption process was completing the mountain of paperwork. There were a number of things that had to be compiled.

For the Department of Homeland Security, I had to file a petition to adopt and go in to be fingerprinted. The man that works the desk in Cincinnati is less than happy to see people who reschedule. However, the woman who takes you back for the oh-so-cool ink-less fingerprints is wonderful!

For my agency, I had to gather the following:
  • Certified Birth Certificate - I ordered these online. They took 9 weeks to arrive and made it to my mailbox the same DAY I drove up to Columbus to pick up a copy in person. A wasted $60.....
  • Copy of my passport.
  • Pictures of me, my family and my house.
  • A letter from my doctor saying I wasn't terminally ill. I hate going to the doctor, but I finally found a doctor I like a few years ago. I drove all the way out to Milford to have him write this letter for me and he was very kind about it.
  • A letter from my employer stating that I had sustainable employment.
  • 2 Witness statements (non-family members) indicating that the individual knew me and I wasn't a serial killer or child abuser. Thank you, D. and P.!!
  • 3 Reference letters stating all my wonderful, maternal qualities. Thank you, R., A., and S.! (No I did not have to bribe them.)
  • A homestudy from a licensed social worker. I was so lucky to have one of the most kind and professional social workers for this part! In addition to her visiting my home and interviewing me, I also had to have
  1. Home safety inspection
  2. An Emergency Exit map of my house
  3. Fire inspection from the Fire Dept
  4. A Heritage Plan to describe how I would educate my child on their culture and history
  5. An autobiography of myself (hated that part, but made it through it)
  6. 2 additional reference letters D. and P. did double duty on this one!
  7. Personal financial statement and copies of my tax returns for the last 5 years
  8. Additional Medical form completed by Dr. G.
  9. State Criminal Check - R. got to accompany me on the trip to get fingerprinted. This one was ink-less, as well, and pretty painless since we went on a Sunday
  10. Child Abuse Registry Clearance - I had to have this re-done at the last minute and the 2nd copy was faxed to work. Nice. I haven't shared my plans with a lot of people at work, so I'm sure they were all wondering why my child abuse status in Ohio was coming across the fax machine. Someone graciously placed the document face down on my desk.
  11. 12 documented hours of adoption education
EVERY ONE of these documents had to be notarized. And the notary process for documents going to Guatemala is meticulous to say the least. Everything down to signing with middle names vs. initials has to be scrutinized. Also, all signatures are supposed to be legible. Everyone has seen my handwriting. No additional comments required.

I had to have several of the notary sections re-done because stamps didn't show up or dates were incorrectly written or some people just forgot how to write their own names because we were all so nervous.

Since all my documents were from Ohio or Kentucky, they all had to be county certified. This is a process where I have to go to each county where the notary lives and get a document that states they really are who they say they are and they are really authorized to notarize documents. Some counties were easier than others. In one particular rural Kentucky county, I had to wait until everyone came back from their leisurely lunch to sign my documents. No one was there. In another in Ohio, the County Clerk told me what fishing lures are her favorite at Wal-Mart. The whole process is a tad inconvenient, but not painful.

Once I had the county certifications from my 4 counties, everything must be state certified. Apostille. This is a fancy word that basically means you get a piece of paper with a shiny gold seal on it that says the County Clerk is who they say they are. The Apostille office for Kentucky is in the Capitol building, which is beautiful. If you happen to enter from the back of the building, drive around to the front.

Once all documents are state certified they have to go to the Guatemalan Embassy for certification. Now my documents for Ohio and Kentucky were literally signed 15 minutes from each other, but Ohio and Kentucky fall under separate Embassy offices. The Embassy for Ohio docs is in Chicago. The Embassy for Kentucky documents is D.C. I used a courier service for both.

I now have my own personal FedEx account.

A few odds and ends paperwork items and I'm on my way!

So if you called and I said I was busy working on paperwork, this is what I was doing.

Guatemala Adoption Process



**UPDATED 1/16/08
Click to enlarge...

The Beginning

I've kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Yes, I think my mother read every entry.

My memories seem to be formed about what I wrote in my journal. I may not remember a particular detail about an event, but if I wrote about it, I can visualize it on the page - down to the placement on the page and the color of the pen.

When I started this adoption journey, I figured that I would be writing every day. Capturing my emotions and fears for my future child. I haven't. I have one entry on 3/13/07 -
"I'm going to be a mother." That's it. Nothing since then.

I'm not sure what this will turn in to. I'm actually a pretty private person, but there is so much about this journey and international adoption that I need to share with my friends and family.

Here goes...