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 Also, since it's been five years since our last adoption, our previous homestudy was no longer valid and had to be redone (I'm not sure, but I think a homestudy is only good for 18 months or 2 years...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.

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