Okay, it’s been a little under two months since our first update. It feels like it’s been almost no time at all. I think at the beginning there was sort of this huge adrenaline rush, and now we’ve just kind of settled back into normal life. Which is nice, actually. But also sometimes makes it seem NOT real — like, are we REALLY adopting a little boy from Eastern Europe? Will he REALLY come home with us someday?
Anyway, as of June 5th, we are officially home study complete!! Woo to the hoo!!! I think we were originally told it takes approximately 4-6 weeks and it took us close to 12. Not even really for one specific reason, just lots of different little things. You have to have a child abuse clearance from every state you’ve lived in since the age of 18, so for Chris and I that was a lot. Some states took a significant amount of time. But, nevertheless, we are DONE. And that feels pretty amazing. One step closer.
We sent off our I-800a to USCIS this week, and it’s supposed to arrive Monday. We are basically applying to US immigration for permission to bring a foreigner into the US. This package required a little application, copies of birth and marriage certificates, and a notarized copy of our approved home study. Oh, and $890 big ones. Crazy, huh? The basic application is $720 and then $85 a piece for our fingerprints. After they have reviewed everything, they send you an appointment to get fingerprints done. I think it’s like a federal fingerprint database. From what I can tell, we should get that appointment in about 2-3 weeks. Once our fingerprints come back clean, it takes another couple weeks to get official approval.
***In the meantime, we will send all of our other completed dossier (official application to Boo’s country) documents to Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee. They will be apostilled there, and then sent to our adoption agency. (We already sent our birth certificates — Ohio, Illinois and Washington — and our marriage certificate — Ohio — to respective state capitol’s for apostille). Once our adoption agency has all of the apostilled documents, they will send them to our country for translation.***
At that point, with USCIS approval in hand, we can officially submit all of our documents to the central authority of Boo’s country. (Hopefully we will have saved time with forwarding the other documents early, and only have the USCIS approval left to apostille and translate).
Then, we wait. We are waiting for what’s known as a referral — that’s when you are officially matched with a specific child. Obviously, we are trying to be matched with Boo. We have requested that already, but there are no guarantees.
Once we receive (and accept) our referral, we go BACK to USCIS. At that point, we are requesting to bring a specific child into the US. Once we get immigration’s approval, we are back in the waiting game. This time we are waiting for a court date from Boo’s country. Then, we travel. Yay! We’ll get there :)
It looks like travel is about 3 weeks. We are required to spend at least 5 days with Boo before our court date. Then, after court, if we are approved to leave immediately, it still takes about two weeks to get a new birth certificate, exit physical, visa, etc. (I originally thought it was two weeks, then court, then one week, but it turns out it’s the opposite).
We are hoping to travel before Christmas, because we’d love to have the whole family home by then. But, as I’ve already learned, it’s pretty unpredictable. Another family is in-country now adopting their little girl, who is Boo’s bestie. They are bringing him a tiny care package from us (so EXCITED) with a photo book of our family, a lovey, and a stuffed animal picked by Sissy. His birthday is in a week and a half, so it’s good timing. Can’t wait to hear ANYTHING about him. But, all is grace, and we are just trusting that Jesus is in control of all of this and not only loves Boo more than we can imagine, but us. All is grace.