Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hello, All. Nothing to report on the adoption front. Just sent in some of our completed paperwork to the agency, but we still have a few more documents to collect. Boring stuff...

As summer draws to a close, we are frantically trying to cram as much of the remodeling project into these last few weeks before school starts, so life here is very hectic. Being a homeschooling mom means summertime here is just too short! I can't believe it's almost time to get back to school. The little ones are excited, but Mama's not ready!

Michael just returned from a missions trip to Mexico with his youth group. He seems to have had a really good trip and is now eager for school to start, as is Alex, who will be starting his Senior year.

Here's the most recent picture taken of the whole bunch. It's rare to get us all together in one picture, and I'm so proud of my crew, so I wanted to share it. Unfortunately, there's a fat lady in the front blocking my size zero frame and stunning, Catherine-Zeta-Jones-like features. I have no idea who she is, or why she's sitting on my lap, completely obscuring me from view. I was really hoping to showcase my killer abs after all the Pilates, but maybe next time. The poor thing does look happy though... Must not be aware of how freakishly white her legs look in photographs or she wouldn't be smiling.

Note to self: Purchase self-tanner.
Blessings to all. I'll give you news as soon as I have it. I'll try to post pictures of the new kitchen and dining room this week.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Document Advice

Hi, Everyone. How's it going? I know I have a few other parents in various parts of the adoption process checking in from time to time, so I wanted to let you know about the minor glitch we encountered with verifying our documents the other day. Hopefully, it may save you an unnecessary step and a little time.

We have a valid certified copy of our marriage certificate left over from our last adoption, that I sent in to the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office for verification. I was concerned the date could be questioned in Vietnam (it was certified in 2000) and asked our adoption agency about it before sending it, but it didn't occur to me that it would be a problem here in the States. Well, it was. I got a call from the Sec. of State's office saying they can't verify a doc. that old and I would have to order a new one. I did, and now have to wait for it to get here. This is really no big deal, and only adds a couple weeks more to our wait, but if I would have known, I would have ordered the new certificate weeks ago. We're still waiting on the 171H, so we haven't "lost" any time, but still...

Lesson learned: Make sure all your docs are recent/current when you begin gathering them, even if they are perfectly good, certified copies. If you question something, check with your state and not just your agency. Each state does things differently and your agency may not know (our agency is in WA). If you have to reorder or replace something, do it early in your process (like while you're waiting to complete your homestudy), so you won't be losing precious weeks of wait time.

Another thing: I usually love the convenience of doing things online and I know there are several websites where you can order documents. I would suggest trying to obtain them locally first, if possible. One of the online services was going to charge me $39.95 for a new marriage record. I called the courthouse where the certificate was originally filed and it cost me $1.50. Big difference!!

Wishing you all a smooth, peaceful adoption process! Have a great day.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vietnam Update

We received an email update from our agency today saying one of their directors just returned from Vietnam and they are trying to get approval to work in several other provinces (they are currently licensed in the Thai Binh province). Also, they are still unable to predict wait times at this time, due to the large number of families wanting to adopt from Vietnam compared to the number of available children. The last time I asked, our coordinator said they sent the first dossiers over at the end of April, so it will be interesting to see how long those families wait for their referrals. I'll post when I hear something.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dossier Documents

I've been asked about the types of documents that make up the dossier (and what exactly IS a dossier, anyway?), so I'll explain a little more about that. I've said all this before, but I haven't done a very good job of explaining how each step affects the next one and I apologize. If you're up to speed on all this you can just skip it!

The stack of paperwork that is going to be submitted to Vietnam on our behalf is called a dossier. I was asked why we can't just re-use the same paperwork from our China adoption and send it to VN to save time. Good thought, but it doesn't work that way. For one thing, different countries have different adoption requirements and different paperwork is requested from each country. The forms we filled out last time were specific to that particular adoption, from that one country, with that one agency. Also, since it's been five years since our last adoption, our previous homestudy was no longer valid and had to be redone (I'm not sure, but I think a homestudy is only good for 18 months or 2 years... something like that anyway)- same thing with medical and police clearance. Not being a criminal 5 years ago does not guarantee you're not a criminal today.

Our Vietnam dossier includes:
  • Application for adoption
  • Homestudy
  • Copies of our passports
  • A form that promises we'll send in periodical reports on our child after the adoption is completed
  • A certified marriage record
  • Power of Attorney
  • Police clearance letters
  • Financial statement with a letter from our accountant (since we're self-employed)
  • Medical clearance letters
  • Photos of our home and family
  • And the biggie... The 171H (I'm pretty sure I've explained what that is in earlier posts).

There is actually a little less required from Vietnam than China... I was surprised we don't have to send certified birth certificates, or divorce decrees. Anything that needs to be notarized (which is most of the above) has to also be sent off for verification at the Sec. of State's office in the state where it was notarized. We'll have to send paperwork to three different states for seals of verification (which, if I'm understanding correctly, this is a verification that the document was legally notarized).

People are so kind to ask us how our adoption is going, or if we've gotten a picture of our baby yet, and I keep giving the same boring answer over and over: "We're still working on gathering the paperwork..." But, you can see from everything required why it takes so long to get to the point of baby pictures. Vietnam hasn't even heard of us yet! Even though we're dealing with less paperwork this time around, it's still a time-consuming process. For example, we can't get the 171H without sending in the I600A form first, which we couldn't send in until the homstudy was completed, which couldn't happen until our parenting prep classes were finished and our social worker completed the interview process. See what I mean? Your Dr. can't write a letter until you've had a physical; the Police Dept. can't write a letter without running a background check, none of those letters can be sent in to the agency until the Sec. of State's seal is applied, blah, blah, blah. We are diligently working on getting our stuff together, there are just a lot of steps involved in obtaining each part of the puzzle and a lot of waiting in between. Adoption is a long, drawn-out process and it's not for pansies! But it should be that way. Children are precious and shouldn't be handed over willy-nilly to just anybody. The dossier is the country's only way of checking out the prospective parents.

Yesterday, I mentioned that it may be around 8 weeks of waiting on our 171H, so I'm hoping that will be enough time to get the other documents verified and returned to us. Thanks for your questions- keep asking! We appreciate that our friends and family are interested and care so much about us! We'll continue to keep you posted on our progress. Keep us in your prayers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fingerprints Done

We went up to the KC branch of USCIS yesterday to get our fingerprints done. We were in and out of there in about an hour, which was a pleasant surprise. From what I'm hearing from a few other PAP's who've used the KC office, it takes about 7-8 weeks to get the 171H after fingerprints are done. That's not too bad. I've heard some families wait twice that long or even longer in other cities, so I won't complain. While we're waiting for that we'll send our dossier documents to the Sec. of State's office for seals of verification, then on to our agency. They send it off for authentication and then I think translating all of it into Vietnamese is next. I'm not sure if the translation is done before sending it to Vietnam, or once it arrives in Vietnam. Anyway- we're hoping, if all goes well, our dossier will be ready for Vietnam within a couple months... I'm hoping by mid to late September.

While in KC, we visited Darrell's mom, who fell and broke her hip and elbow on July 4th. She had surgery on her hip and will be in the hospital for at least a few more days. We're praying for a quick recovery. She's a real strong, go-getter type, so hopefully she'll be back up and running soon!