So, we have officially been waiting at this point for 6 months and, often, I'm asked questions about the process that I thought I'd take some time to explain.
You're STILL waiting?
Yes, we are still waiting. We began our paperwork and educational requirements in September of 2011. It ("it" being our dossier...the complete collection of paperwork required) made the long trek to Ethiopia and was received there in January of 2012. Upon it's arrival, we were placed on our agency's wait list at number 29.
How much longer will it be?
I wish that I knew. We are currently #17 on our agency's wait list. The majority of the families ahead of us are waiting for an infant or younger toddler (most are approved/requesting 0-2) so we hopefully won't ever be #1; however, it isn't as easy as it seems it should be. Our agency only has access to certain children from certain orphanages. Our call could come tomorrow......or in 6 more months. (Lord, PLEASE don't let it be 6 more months.)
What exactly are you waiting for?
Well, for now, we are waiting for a referral.
What's a referral?
A referral is the actual matching of a specific child to our family. When that time comes, we will receive a call from our agency's director with basic information, as well as an email with a picture and any history and medical information that is available on her.
I keep anticipating how this will happen and where we will all be when that call comes. I have told Jeff that I don't want to see our child's face for the first time apart from one another. I figured we were both present the first time we saw our boys; we should be together when we see our girl too.
Jeff and I have contracted with the Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic and, once we receive our referral information, we will forward it to the clinic for their review. They will report back to us within 24 hours (with any red flags that they see based upon the medical history provided). This clinic will be responsible for our daughter's care when she first arrives home; they are familiar with internationally adopted children and their illnesses, parasites, tendencies, etc. and also have someone in their clinic that can speak her language (which helps to make the transition more tolerable). She will eventually transition from there to our regular pediatrician.
Are you picking out the child that you want?
We are not. Our dossier clearly outlines the age and gender of the child that we have requested and been approved for.....a 3-5 year old girl. There is always a possibility that we could go slightly younger or slightly older than that parameter (with an amendment to our home study) but the child that we are referred should fall into that range.
What will happen after you receive your referral?
We'll begin waiting.....again. Once we have accepted a referral, paperwork will be filed with the Ethiopian courts for the adoption to take place. We will wait for a court date to be granted which, hopefully, will be 4-6 weeks after the referral is accepted. Ethiopian courts close for a period of time in August and September for the rainy season so, IF we were to get a referral before then (not likely) or, for that matter, during the rainy season closing, the wait for a court date could/would be longer.
Are your boys going to Ethiopia with you?
We plan for our entire family to go on one of the two trips. We had really hoped that one of the trips would occur during the summer months while they were out of school but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Though we hate for them to miss school, this is one of those once in a lifetime experiences and we definitely want them to experience their sister's country, her culture and meet her in person as soon as possible. Not sure which of the two trips they will take....if either were to fall during a time that they were out of school, that one would be the obvious choice. If not, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
Yes, we will go first for court and, at that time, she will become our daughter; however, she will need a visa to be able to travel. We will return home and, yes...you guessed it...WAIT for her visa to be issued by the US Embassy. We will return to bring her home once that step is completed.
Those are the main topics of discussion that seem to be coming up. The process is tedious and can be confusing; I am happy to help iron out some details for any of you who wonder what in the world is going on.
If you have any other questions that I haven't thought of, feel free to post them in the comments section and I'll be glad to answer (if I can).