After my initial three blog posts, there was not much to report, and we were just waiting to begin the dossier process. I have gotten many questions from friends and family about how long the adoption will take, if we know what age/gender of child we will adopt, if we have been matched yet, and again, how long before we get our child. So I will attempt to provide some answers for those who may be interested.
It is difficult to put an exact timeline on international adoption because there are a lot of things that are not in our control, like how long it takes to get documents received, approved, etc. I tell people that the general timeline from CCAI (our agency) says that our current step (collecting dossier materials) takes about 5-6 months. After that, it could take anywhere from 6-18 months to be matched with a child, less time for an older child or one with more severe medical needs. A child (particularly a girl) with minor needs, could take over 24 months to be matched. Once we are matched with a child, it takes about 3-4 months to receive our LOA (letter of acceptance) from the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, the ultimate Chinese authority for international adoption affairs). After we sign and return our LOA, we will wait for travel approval and plan to make our trip in 9-12 weeks from that point. We will be in China 14-17 days to complete the process. So, really there is a long road of paperwork and waiting that lies ahead of us at this point.
As I had mentioned in the previous posts, we have chosen to adopt a little girl. On the adoption application and medical checklist, we also needed to select an age range. We selected a girl between the ages of 0-48 months. It is important to us that she be younger that Camden, who turned four years old on March 1, 2015. So, that being said, we DO know that we will not be matched with a child who does not fall within that age range. No, we have not been matched as of yet, and that process could take quite a while. All in all, I usually tell people that I expect the process to take a few years, so just continue to keep us in your prayers.
Now, on to the paperwork…
April 20, 2015, I received an email from CCAI welcoming us to the dossier process. We had an idea of what this would entail, but the more I dug in, the more overwhelming it seemed. I love the advice a friend gave me who has been through this journey, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Sure enough, I am finding this to be true. My mistake was reading through the dossier guide and home study packet and trying to tackle both at once. After a few phone calls to CCAI representatives both in the Kentucky office and the Colorado headquarters, I realized that it was much more manageable to begin with the home study first.
The purpose of the home study is to provide an accurate picture of our family’s readiness to adopt, and to ensure the adoption placement is made in the best interest of our family and the adoptive child. There is a long list of documents in this packet, including birth and marriage certificates, financial information, letters of recommendation, medical forms for all of us, several different background checks, and social worker visits and recommendation. A lot of this information will also be needed to complete the actual dossier, which will be sent to China.
The dossier is very involved and requires many more pieces than the home study, including family photographs and all original copies of forms, many needing notarized, certified by issuing secretaries of state, and authenticated by the Chinese Consulate/Embassy for that state. The dossier is the complete picture of our family life for the CCCWA to approve for Chinese adoption.
So, this is what our life is about right now. Making doctor appointments, sending requests for forms from various states (since we have lived in several), and of course, writing out checks to pay for all these documents. There is a big part of me that will be glad to be done working for the summer so I can focus on the paper trail.
Through all of this “busy work,” I am always grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to travel this journey. The journey I always dreamed about and wondered if it would ever come about. We signed papers saying that we understand that our time and money is non-refundable, should anything happen out of the control of our agency, and the adoption would not proceed. So, I am always aware that this journey is a gift. I do not take it for granted. I know that it could end at any time if China closes its doors to international adoption, like other countries around the world have done. But I keep praying for those open doors, for wisdom through all of the paperwork, and for our child half-way around the world.