Adopting from Ethiopia takes, on average, 18 months (according to our agency). So basically, we're talking the length of two pregnancies here, or as Brian likes to say, "So we're giving birth to an elephant!" (long gestational period).
First Trimester -
- Phone interview with the agency
- Filling out an application
- Filling out and notarizing a boatload of paperwork
- Seeing a physician and getting blood tests done
- Fingerprinting to receive an FBI Clearance
Basically, the first trimester of adoption is a lot like the first trimester of pregnancy. Realizing that you really are adopting is so exciting and even the paperwork isn't that bad because you know that there will one day be a baby on the other side. On the other hand, there is a little morning sickness involved. Our bank simply wouldn't write a letter on our behalf, even though what we were asking wasn't anything crazy. They just wouldn't do it because they are in the process of being bought out by another bank and they "won't write custom letters during the transition". Alright then! Thankfully, we figured out another way to get the letter we needed to vouch that we have a savings and checking account in good standing. Just like with morning sickness, you roll with the punches and adjust. We're glad that we're done with the first trimester. Whhheeeeeeeeeeeee!
Second trimester: The second trimester is a LONG trimester. It starts off with a bang and then it involves a lot of waiting.
- Homestudy - An adoption social worker comes to your home and writes a report evaluating you and your home as a safe environment for a child. We had our homestudy visit last week and are currently waiting on our social worker to complete her report.
- Compiling your dossier. A dossier is a body of paperwork required by the foreign government from which you are adopting. We have hired a dossier service to help us in gathering an authenticating these documents. She has been a complete blessing and really KNOWS HER STUFF!
- Once the homestudy is completed, Customs and Immigration send you your approval to adopt an orphan from a foreign country (form 171-H).
- Once the dossier is complete, it can be submitted to the Ethiopian government, and then...finally...
- You are placed on your adoption agency's waiting list to be matched with your child(ren). The current average waiting time for an infant 0-12 months old is 8 months.
- One day after you've waited longer than you ever thought you could, you receive a telephone call from a very excited adoption caseworker at your agency with your referral. That means you get to see a picture of the baby you are being given the opportunity to adopt. This is pretty much the equivalent of having an ultrasound and getting to see your sweet baby's face for the first time in a picture. You also receive any known information about the child (age, health, circumstances that made him/her an orphan).
- Wait to be given a court date (usually a 1 month wait).
- Wait for the court date to arrive (usually a 1-2 month wait).
- Pass court. The day your baby passes court in Ethiopia, you are considered the legal parents of the child by the Ethiopian government.
- Travel to pick up your child (usually 3 weeks after passing court). This must be like the birth part--finally getting hold your long-awaited child in your arms!
We can't wait for that!