I have spent the past 6 months devouring all-things adoption, so all the crazy terms and the process in general seems second nature to me. However, I realize that before this I knew NOTHING about how it worked. This post is to give a simplified idea of what we are doing and how it is “supposed” to work.
- We filled out a pre-application which matched us with Bulgaria. (We didn’t have to do this, and we could have chosen a country ourselves…but we didn’t.)
- We filled out our Adoption Application through ALL God’s Children International and paid an application fee. They are out of Portland, Oregon, and we had great references from a few other adopting families.
- Our application was accepted, so we began researching our homestudy agency. A homestudy is a written report containing the findings of the social worker who we will meet with on several occasions. She will visit our home, and investigate our health, medical, criminal, family and home background. We decided to use Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services out of Mt. Vernon, IL. We filled out our application, with fee, and after being accepted received the huge packet of paperwork to fill out–everything from medical background checks to HIV and TB tests to agreements to keep our water temperatures at a certain degree to written autobiographies. We completed CPR training, read all the legal packets regarding Illinois adoption regulations, got fingerprinted (the first time), and gathered records of our pet vaccinations. The completed paperwork packet was included with a payment of around $2000 and mailed this week. They will receive it and call us to schedule 2 visits each lasting 4-6 hours. In addition to this, we must complete 14 hours of training for our homestudy. Andy and I will complete 6 hours at a class in Chicago next month, and the remaining 8 we will do online.
- In the meantime, we had to fill out AGCI’s contract and make our first agency payment of $4350 which covers: $350 Home Study Review Fee/ $3,000 Agency Fee/ $1,000 Orphan Care Fee. With this contract we were “officially” accepted into the Bulgaria Program and given access to our Dossier ( doss-EE–AY) packet, which is the second huge chunk of paperwork. A dossier is a set of authenticated and translated legal documents which are used in international adoption cases to process the adoption of a child in its own country by the adoptive parents, or for the adoptive parents to obtain the legal custody or guardianship of the child in the foreign court, so the child can be brought by the adoptive parents to the United States for adoption. Essentially this is a legal packet which includes all the findings of our homestudy, letters to various government establishments (both US and Bulgarian), our passport information, FBI background checks (this was our second set of fingerprints),ect, ect. ect.. In addition to this we must complete an additional 8 online adoption courses.
- After we finish up collecting our dossier paperwork, we will request our final set of fingerprints with US Immigration and wait for our date they provide us with. Then we will take our entire dossier and have all the papers notarized at the bank, then take them to Springfield, IL and have them all apostilled at the Secretary of State’s office. Apostille is the process of certifying the authenticity of the signature of the notary on all the documents and stamping the documents. Then we will send the entire dossier with about $6000 agency fee to our caseworker who will take about 6 weeks to translate it all into Bulgarian.
- At this point, we will become registered with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and begin waiting to be matched with our child! And we will wait, and we will wait. Once registered, it usually takes 18-36 months (or more!) to get your referral. (We will then have to update our homestudy every year and our immigration fingerprints every 15 months…..$$$)
- Then there will come a beautiful day that our agency will call us with a referral of a child Bulgaria has matched us with. This will include a short video of the child (or children), a few pictures, and their complete medical and personal background. We will officially accept the referral and within 2 weeks, Andy and I will travel to Bulgaria to meet our child! We will stay for one week, bonding and getting to know them……then we will go home–without them……
- I imagine this will be the hardest part. After we have officially adopted them, we will come home to wait for 3-6 months for the final processing of all paperwork and our child’s visa. When we finally get the call, we will travel back and bring them home–FOREVER! We will continue with post-adoption stuff and more fees for 2 years, but I imagine we won’t mind it at that point. 🙂
I would like to end (will it ever end?) with a side-note of the fact that this is how it is “supposed” to happen. It could certainly happen faster, but I don’t dare get my hopes up for that. It could happen much slower with many obstacles to overcome, but we believe it WILL happen in God’s perfect timing. We feel prepared to wait, as we see it necessary for our children to grow a little older, and we look forward to the time we will share with them as this all unfolds. We believe it will all be worth the wait to unite our children all together!