*Adoption FAQ – Jordan

Order of information on this page:

1. Who and why are you adopting?
2. Where are the blog posts about your adoption? (July, 2010 to July 19, 2011… updates as time permits)
3. What has your adoption process been?
4. How much has this adoption cost?
5. Can I see your adoption checklist?

1. Who and why are you adopting?
Partial answer:
Children with special needs in many Eastern Europe countries struggle to receive adequate care in orphanages and few live with their birth families. This is for more than one reason. There is a stronger stigma in many of these countries about the VALUE of a child whose body or mind are imperfect. No culture is immune to this, but it is still tragic! These children are made in God’s image, despite imperfections. I have my own imperfections and I am so glad that God can love me and work through me, even though I fall so far short of His perfection. Another reason children in these orphanages struggle, is due to a struggling economy. If you think the US has a struggling economy, try taking a look at almost anywhere else in the world!

Once children with special needs (physical or mental) reach the age of 3-6, they cannot stay in their “baby” orphanage, but are transferred to either an older children’s orphanage or a mental institution. Neither place is as nice as the baby orphanage, but mental institutions are almost always inhumane places, where lack of funding, too few caretakers and a lowering of basic standards creates horrible conditions where most children are starved for attention, stimulus and food. Jordan is faring much better in his “baby house” and we are eager to get him home and loved on by his doting sisters.

Adoption process – timeline:

July 2010 – God begins stirring our hearts again with http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2010/05/healing-rain.html
July 2010 – Began process to update homestudy
October 2010 – Completed formal application with About a Child to adopt from Eastern Europe
December 2010 – Homestudy complete
December 2010 – FBI checks complete
December 30, 2010 – USCIS receipts our I800A
Jan 11, 2011 – Saw Seamus’ file for the first time, committed the next day.
Jan 13, 2011 – Received fingerprint appointment from USCIS
Feb 7, 2011 – Fingerprint appointment for USCIS
Feb 22, 2011 – Officer assigned at USCIS
Feb 28, 2011 – USCIS Approval received in mail! (60 days after receipt)
March 7th, 2011 – Dossier arrives in Eastern Europe
March 21st, 2011 – Received “Jordan’s” file
March 24th, 2011 – Try to correct error on USCIS document.
April 21st, 2011 – Received updated I-800A approval!
May 5th, 2011 – Complete dossier submitted!
May 13th, 2011 – Verbal referral
June 3rd, 2011 – Official referral received!
June 13th, 2011 – Notified of James going home with Jesus
June 17-26, 2011 – Travel on trip 1!
June 28, 2011 – Documents submitted to MOJ, I-800 mailed to USCIS
June 29, 2011 – I-800 received by USCIS
July 7, 2011 – Receipt from USCIS arrives (dated June 29)
July 14, 2011 – I-800 approved!
August 8, 2011 – Article 5 letter issued (took awhile to get VISA photos)
August 15, 2011 – Article 5 letter submitted to MOJ
October 6, 2011 – Dossier submitted to court at last!
October 20, 2011 – Assigned a judge and court date! Court date is set for the 24th! Woo hoo!
October 24, 2011 – Court passed!
October 31, 2011 – Court decree in effect!
November 3rd, 2011 – Court decree in facilitator’s hand, submitted for birth certificate
November 4th, 2011 – Buying airplane tickets! Delayed our travel a week or two week to avoid Thanksgiving closures
November 25-December 3rd, 2011 – Pick-up trip!!!! Gotcha day is November 28, 2011!!!!!!

Adoption process – expense:

4. How much has this adoption cost?
Adoption Expenses:
$175 – Birth certificates and Marriage licenses (made errors or would be cheaper) – 08/04/2010
$34 – Fingerprints for homestudy, FBI check, etc. – 08/04/2010
$375 – Homestudy Update – 10/22/2010
$3000 – About A Child program fee – 11/02/2010
$36 – FBI background check – 11/20/2011
$880 – I-800A plus biometrics – 11/22/2010
$275 – Love offering to Reece’s Rainbow – 11/23/2010
$250 – Hague Oversight for homestudy to AAC – 12/27/2010
$10 – Local background checks – 02/25/2011
$100 – Homestudy addendum – 03/30/2011
$360 – I-800A supplement 3 (to get approval for two children) – 04/05/2011
$3950 – Airfare, first trip – 06/06/2011
$500 – Hotel, first trip – 06/17/2011
$300 – Food, etc. first trip – 06/17/2011
$250 – Notary fees and extra stop mileage, first trip – 06/17/2011
$10000 – Program fee (for all European expenses – attorney, filing fees, tranportation, translations, court, etc.) – paid in installments – balance due at first trip 06/17/2011
$404 – VISA – 06/17/2011
$488 – Cost of shipping through 07/09/2011
$260 – Cost of apostilles through 07/09/2011
$2500 – Airfare, second trip – projected
$800 – Hotel, second trip – projected
$500 – Food, second trip – projected

Total cost: about $26000
Tax credit: about $13000

Adoption timeline and cost…. again?

1. Research adoption, countries and special needs heavily (July 2010)
2. Update old homestudy for country we’re adopting from $350 (October-December)
3. Background checks $34
4. Order birth and marriage certificates $200 (1-8 weeks)
5. Complete formal application with About a Child $3250 – program fee plus Hague oversight (October)
6. FBI Background check $36 (October – December, 6 weeks)
7. Made a Family Sponsor Page with Reece’s Rainbow to raise awareness $275 (December)
8. I800A, application to adopt to USCIS mailed (December, 2-3 months)
9. I800A returned for incorrect check amount – (remailed late December)
10. I800A checks cashed 12/30/10

1. Choose a child or children to commit to COMPLETE (01/13/11)
3. Request commitment papers from facilitator COMPLETE (01/13/11)
4. Complete and notarize commitment papers (2 days) COMPLETE (01/15/11)
5. Apostille commitment papers (5 days – even over a holiday weekend) COMPLETE (01/20/11)
6. Ship to facilitator $2000 (6 days) COMPLETE (arrived: 01/27/11)
7. Our facilitator will place a hold on the child’s file for us with the documents by translating/authenticating/submitting. (15 days) COMPLETE (02/11/11)
8. We have the option of adding a second child anytime before our dossier ships. Adopting one. Decision FINAL 03/02/2011 (hahaha)

1. Receive fingerprinting date and get printed (received January 13, 2011, COMPLETE on 02/07/11)
2. Receive approval to adopt from USCIS/I800A approval (COMPLETE 02/28/11)
3. Review entire dossier (again) to make sure it’s complete with background checks, medical clearances, etc. (COMPLETE 03/01/11)
4. Notarize (COMPLETE 03/01/11)
5. Apostille (COMPLETE 03/02/11)
6. Ship to facilitator (COMPLETE – arrived 03/07/11)
7. Translation (COMPLETE 03/19/11)
8. Submission to MOJ (COMPLETE 03/28/2011)
9. Jordan’s commitment papers being notarized, apostilled and shipped to meet up with dossier. (COMPLETE Arrived 04/11/11, Submitted to MOJ 04/21/11)
10. USCIS approval needs to be updated, notarized, apostilled and shipped to meet up with dossier. (COMPLETE Received 04/21/11, Shipped 04/22/11, Arrived 04/26/2011, Submitted to MOJ 05/05/2011)
11. Dossier submitted (COMPLETE 05/05/2011)
12. Council for international adoption reviews dossier and confirms a referral will be issued (verbal referral) (COMPLETE – 05/13/2011)
14. Wait for signature from MOJ… to get official, written referral documentation (COMPLETE!!! – 06/03/2011)
15. Referral is translated and sent to facilitator (COMPLETE – 06/04/2011)
16. Travel planned for 06/17-06/26. Tickets purchased 06/06/2011. $8000 + travel/VISA expenses (COMPLETE – 06/06/2011)

Travel (Friday-Sunday) … 06/17/2011-06/26/2011 (10 days) COMPLETE
• Day 1: Flight departs Friday, June 17th at 8:10am
• Day 2: Arrive in country Saturday at 12:45pm (about 22 hours since we woke up Friday). Our facilitator will meet us at the airport us to a hotel. Withdraw local currency from an ATM with the traveler’s prepaid card we’re using (About $500? I don’t mind if we have extra to bring on the second trip.). Receive a local phone from facilitator to receive phone calls (from locally and from home). Drive halfway to our boys’ city and stop to drop off a package for a fellow adoptive family and visit some friends of my parents.
• Day 3: Drive the rest of the way to our boys’ city on Sunday. Check in with our host family. Prepare ourselves for our meeting with the orphanage director and playing with the boys.
• Day 4: Monday: Meet with the orphanage director and have a chance to ask about your child’s medical history, daily routine, food schedule, food preferences and needs, etc. (facilitator translating) Meet your child for the first time. They meet you for the first time. Possible one or two visits per day.
• Day 5: Tuesday: Second day of visit(s) with boys
• Day 6: Wednesday: Third day of visit(s) with boys
• Day 7: Thursday: Fourth day of visit(s) with boys
• Day 8: Friday: Fifth day of visit(s) with boys. Have our bags packed to be picked up this morning. Morning visit (2-3 hours) – Bring a small thank you gift to facilitator (flowers, a nice pen… a polite gift) Make sure you have photos of staff that is important to your child(ren) before leaving. Take last photos, hold, smell, touch and kiss for the last time before leaving. Drive back to origin city.
• Day 9: Saturday: Complete adoption referral paperwork, pay for VISA’s, sightsee
• Day 10: Sunday: Board airplane at 6:10am. Arrive home at 6:22pm about 24 hours after we got up that morning. Excitedly and enthusiastically greet our sweet daughters who we have missed and our family who has helped us along.
• After home: If we have not been able to blog while in country due to not finding internet connections, we will post our blogs when we get home! It’s important to us to share with everybody!

Stage 5: 4-6 months total “Second Stage Documentation” (US portion) COMPLETE
1. Complete and mail consent for adoption and declarations COMPLETE (while in country)
2. Complete POA per each child (possibly done in country) COMPLETE (while in country)
3. Mail in I800 (not I800A) to USCIS, the approval of this form gets mailed direction to Eastern Europe and starts the EE paperwork. – COMPLETE 06/28/2011
4. I-800 approval COMPLETE (07/14/2011)
5. I-800 approval wired to US Embassy in EE (after being mailed to National Visa Center and approved there) – COMPLETE (07/22/2011)
6. Update medicals – COMPLETE (07/20/2011)
7. Update background checks – COMPLETE (07/20/2011)
8. Sign & notarize – COMPLETE (07/22/2011)
9. Apostille – COMPLETE (08/01/2011)
10. Mail to facilitator – mailed to family to hand-carry to facilitator – COMPLETE (08/01/2011)
11. Arrive with facilitator – COMPLETE (08/__/2011)

“Second Stage Documentation” (Europe portion)
note: government “holiday” from July 15-September 1 this year:

1. Article 5 Letter issued from US Embassy in EE – within 5 business days of the provisional filing, which is the I-800 approval being wired from the National Visa Center. Detail: Elena will get an appointment when it arrives, will go in within 2-3 days. It will be issued and picked up by Elena 1-3 days later. VISA photo must be there before appointment.- COMPLETE (08/08/2011)
2. Article 5 Letter filed with the MOJ with second stage documents and dossier. – COMPLETE (08/15/2011)

3. Wait for two signatures to get MOJ approval – lawyer for MOJ, then Vice Minister. (3-6 weeks) – Sep 22?
4. Paperwork is sent to court, where it’s assigned to a judge who will issue a court date (1 week) – Sep 29?
5. Court date(s) are held… we are praying we get a friendly, quick judge… not a slow judge who also requests additional paperwork at her discretion (2-8 weeks) – Oct 24?
6. Court order issued, 7 days to become final! (7 days) – Oct 31?
7. Birth certificates issued (7 days) – Nov 7?
8. Wait for paperwork to be translated (1-3 weeks) – Nov 21?
9. Schedule travel – Nov/Dec

Stage 6:
Travel 8-10 days – must get new passport (3 bus. Days), visa medical, visa before returning home with child(ren).

Leave home sometime Friday or Saturday.
Arrive sometime on a Saturday or early Sunday.
Sleep one night before driving, or drive 6-8 hours to orphanage – depending on time of arrival. Arrive in Jordan’s city on Sunday before bedtime.
Pick up Jordan on Monday first thing (about 10am) – drive all the way back to the capital in time to get to the Passport Office before it closes.
Tuesday/Wednesday – Hanging out at the hotel
Thursday: Medical appointment for Jordan in the morning – Consular appointment in the afternoon
Friday – Facilitator picks up the passport and Visa from the Consulate and drops it off at your hotel by midday.
You’ll fly back on Saturday–unless you’re lucky enough to find a flight leaving on Friday evening.
Arrive home sometime Saturday or Sunday

Stage 7:
• Plan homecoming – meet Jordan at airport!
• Join after the rainbow
• Doctor appointments
• Therapy appointments
• Quiet, down time
• Life!

5 Responses to *Adoption FAQ – Jordan

  1. Katie

    Did you know the first trip is optional? You could skip it and just pick up both kids on your second trip. Cheaper, makes things go faster, if you are planning to bring your other kids with you to Eastern Europe, you won’t have to worry about them going in to the orphanage because you won’t need to spend any time there. You just pick your kids up and take them back to the hotel. We skipped our first trip and are picking up our daughter around when you are thinking for your first trip…. Maybe we’ll see you there!

  2. atruerarity

    Thanks Katie – I’ll look into that. I’m pretty sure WE are required to have both trips, but I’m going to check and see.

  3. atruerarity

    Our agency and facilitator emailed us back and it is a requirement of our agency and facilitator to go on the first trip. Their reason is that meeting the child the first time makes sure we are aware of the special needs and helps protect the child. There are some instances where we’d be thrilled to waive the first trip, but right now, I wouldn’t waive the first trip if I could. I’m so excited you’re traveling soon… maybe we WILL see each other there! Do you have a blog?

  4. What agency did Katie said she used?

    I would suggest to everyone adopting whether the country is Bulgaria or any other country to make the first trip. Whether the first trip is not required you should meet your child and then decide whether or not to proceed. Most medical information may not be accurate or current on adoption listings. And medical diagnoises may be rated differently in other countries than ours.

    When you attorney represents you in court the judge will review the dossier prior to your adoption hearing. Not chosing to visit your children may cause some delays in the final approval of your adoption and required additional paperwork.

  5. Chelsea Claus

    Wow, the adoption process list is overwhelming! Great job documenting everything!

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