Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was so excited this morning when our home study arrived via the FedEx man. We lost so much time when CAI went out of business and I couldn't wait to get the process moving again! As soon as I had the home study I could mail in the I-800A form and start working on USCIS approval. However, soon after I received the home study I checked e-mails only to find one from Philip (our case advisor at our new agency) stating that we can not use these physicals either because the dates of commission for both of our notaries are not valid for at least TWO years! I had thought the rule was one year, but now it's two. I tried to get around it but it's inevitable: they have to be redone. Sometimes I wonder how many more hoops they can possibly ask us to jump through...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Second Physical

I completed my second physical last Thursday and Paul finished his today. I forwarded them to Barbara this afternoon so that she could finish up our home study and mail it out to us. Once I have it we can move on to the next step: USCIS (immigration) approval!


I filled out the I-800A form today, a rather long application that we will send to USCIS as soon as we get our home study squared away...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Timeline, up to now

Just to bring this blog up to date, here is an abridged timeline of everything we have done so far: (It may seem long, but believe me- there are so many details that I have left out so as not to overwhelm my readers!)

Fall 2007: Paul and I decided to start the adoption process; I began spending hours online researching agencies and the process in general. I spoke to several agencies, and even went to an informational meeting for an agency here in town. I was very disappointed that none of the agencies were willing to let me begin the process now since Paul would be deploying in February.
February 19, 2008: Paul deployed.
March, 2008: I contacted CAI and asked for more information.
March 11: I was contacted by Rochelle, an intake manager for CAI. We immediately hit it off since we have a lot in common. We e-mailed back and forth quite a bit over the next couple of days. Since she is also a Navy wife she understood our situation and agreed that there was much of the process that I could begin now, even with Paul deployed.
March 13: Paul and I decided to go with CAI. I filled out the application online and sent in the application fee.
March 14: We were approved by CAI.
March 22: I signed the contract with CAI and paid the contract fee.
March 26: I contacted Barbara, a social worker recommended by Rochelle. She was very kind and helpful and agreed to work with us.
April 21: I began my online parenting class (a requirement).
May 21: I sent away for Paul's birth certificate.
June 2: Paul's birth certificate arrived.
June 25: Paul sent our requests for police clearance from Naples (we have to get clearance from every place we have lived in the past 5 years).
June 30: I completed the application for the social worker and sent it in.
July 6: Paul got his Letter of Employment signed and notarized. I finished my autobiography.
July 11: Paul returned from deployment!
July 17: Paul and I spent the morning being fingerprinted and getting forms notarized.
July 18: I had my physical, then went to the post office to mail in our fingerprints, our requests for police clearance from Florida and Virginia, as well as Paul's birth certificate back to Wisconsin to be State Certified/Authenticated.
July 21: Paul finished his autobiography, I typed up my Letter of Unemployment and our Certificate of Property/Financial Statement. Also, I finished the online parenting course!!
July 22: Paul began the online parenting course.
July 23: I mailed our autobiographies in to the social worker. We also got Paul's birth certificate back from Wisconsin with State Certification.
July 28: Paul worked all weekend and finished up the online parenting class!
July 30: We got our police clearances back from Virginia and Florida. Unfortunately the Florida one had to be redone because the notary's commission was not valid for at least 1 year (another requirement).
July 31: I called and asked for a new Florida police clearance, and also ordered my Georgia clearance which I will pick up next week when I'm home.
August 2: We had our home visit with Barbara, our social worker. Although I was a little nervous about this (I had heard horror stories!) it was actually not a problem at all. Barbara was wonderful and made the whole process pleasant and stress-free!
August 3: After the home visit was complete I drove home to Georgia to complete paperwork in person.
August 4: I picked up my Georgia police clearance, as well as our marriage certificate, and dropped off my Explanation of Surgery form with my surgeon for an operation I had several years ago. Also, Paul's 2nd police clearance arrived from Florida, still wrong. (This time there was NO notary signature at all!) Paul called and requested clearance #3.
August 5: I picked up my birth certificates.
August 6: I picked up my Explanation of Surgery form from my surgeon (basically stating that I am medically capable of being a great parent). My mom and I then drove downtown to have my police clearance county certified at the courthouse, then we went to the Department of State to have my police clearance, birth certificate, and our marriage certificate State Certified/Authenticated. We went home, feeling very accomplished, only to find out that our agency, CAI, was going out of business! Everything was put on hold until we figured out what was going to happen.
August 7: We were passed to another agency. I faxed a consent form to allow our paperwork to be passed to the new agency.
August 8: Opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing! I watched with pride and amazement as my daughter's birth country put on quite a show!
August 9: I drove back to Virginia.
August 11: I typed up our "Letter to China," basically a cover letter that will go with our dossier to China.
August 14: I spoke to the Executive Director of our new agency; he agreed to pick us up right where we were with CAI. He did not charge us any fees that we had already paid to CAI, which was wonderful and we were so thankful, but we did have to start back at the beginning with filling out an application and contract with them.
August 15: I mailed in the application to our new agency.
August 18: We got Paul's 3rd police clearance from Florida- STILL WRONG!!! This time it was signed by the original notary (the one who's commission was valid for only 2 months, instead of the required year).
August 20: I called Florida for police clearance #4 (needless to say, I was not exactly friendly this time!)
August 22: The 4th police clearance from Florida arrived today, finally correct!!
August 27: We signed a contract with the new agency.
August 28: I mailed in the new contract, Paul's police clearance back to Florida for State Certification, as well as a couple of my Georgia documents back to the Secretary of State since they were not dated correctly the first time and needed to be redone.
August 29: We found out that we had to redo our physicals since they were done on CAI letterhead and, since that agency is now defunct, they need to be on the new agency's letterhead. I called my surgeon and asked that they complete another Explanation of Surgery and made another appointment with my doctor here for a new physical; Paul did the same.
September 2: Barbara completed our home study!
September 11: Our home study finished review with our agency; it was only lacking the new physicals
September 16: I started our blog! (We are now up to date!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Story

We have decided to create this blog so that our family and friends can follow along with and better understand our adoption journey, and so that we will have a journal of our journey that we can share with our daughter one day.

For those who don't know, I have wanted to adopt a baby girl from China for over half my life. When I was in high school I first learned about the "One Child Policy" in China, and how, due to a cultural preference for boys, thousands of beautiful, perfect little girls are abandoned for no reason other than the fact that they are not boys. I decided right then that one day I would be a mother to one of these children. Since Paul and I are currently living in the States, and will be here for at least another 2 -1/2 years, we decided last fall that this would be a good time to start the adoption process.

The process for international adoption is very long and complicated. Later I will post the actual timeline of everything that we have done so far just to get to this point, and we are still at least 2 years (probably more like 3 years) away from getting a referral for our daughter. It has been almost a year since we first made the decision to go ahead and start the process, and we are not even on the "waiting list" yet....

First I would like to explain a little about how the process works, and some of the "adoption lingo". Paul and I are currently finishing up our dossier, which is basically a huge pile of paperwork that has to be collected, including our birth certificates, marriage certificate, proof of employment, proof of financial standing, physicals/proof of good health, police clearance from every State/country we have lived in the past 5 years, etc., etc., etc. Then these papers must all be notarized, then State certified (meaning that the Secretary of State verifies that the notary that certified the official that signed the original document is actually a valid notary. Confused yet?), then all of the paperwork must go to the corresponding Embassy (Wisconsin papers go to the Embassy in Chicago, Florida and Georgia papers go to Houston, and Virginia papers go to D.C.) to be further certified (basically saying that the Secretary of State, who verified the notary, who verified the official who signed the actual document, is actually the valid Secretary of State).

We also had to have a home study. This is when a social worker puts together even more paperwork about us, including verifying our proof of employment, proof of financial standing, proof of good health, etc., as well as fingerprints, police clearances from every State/country we've lived since we were 18 years old, family background information, etc. She also had to meet with us and interview us, both separately and jointly, and she did an inspection of our home. She put all of this information together into an 8-page report.

After the home study is complete, we can proceed to the next step: getting permission from Immigration/Homeland Security to bring an "immigrant" into the country (even though she will be "sworn in" as a citizen of the United States before we leave China, and will become a US citizen the second she touches US soil). This is yet another long, complicated process. We have to send in an application and our home study to the USCIS (Immigration), then wait several weeks, then we will get an appointment to be fingerprinted (again), then wait several more weeks...

Once we get approval from USCIS, we can get the final certification done on all of our documents (the USCIS approval, as well as the dossier documents) by the Embassy in D.C. Then, THEN, we can send everything to China, where it will be translated to Chinese, then sent to the CCAA (the agency that oversees all adoptions in China). Once the CCAA looks over our documents they will log us into the system and we will get a "Log In Date", or LID. Then we sit back for the long wait. The current wait (from LID to the date of getting a referral- the first pictures and information we will receive for our daughter) is about 30 months.

We have asked for a baby, as young as possible, preferably younger than 9 months old at the time of referral. The youngest she might be is 5 or 6 months at the time of referral (that is the amount of time it takes China to get the babies' paperwork together so that they can be adopted internationally), and the oldest is 18 months. Once we get our referral it will still be another 6 to 8 weeks until we will be able to travel to China to bring her home.

Right now we are planning to name our daughter "Caitlin Mei" (Mei means beautiful in Chinese).

SOOOO, while we are very excited and more than ready to fly to China tomorrow to bring our daughter home, it will be quite some time before that day comes. In the mean time we plan to keep ourselves very busy (as we usually do!) so the time will fly and before we know it the day will come!

I hope that this has helped to explain the process a little, and to answer some of the questions you may have. Please let us know if you have any other questions or confusions- we love to talk about it!