19 December 2009

Finalized Home Study!!!!!!

This is me with the FedEx envelope as we overnight our finalized Home Study to USCIS. Since it's Saturday, it won't get out until Monday for delivery to the USCIS office in Texas on Tuesday.

This is a significant milestone in our adoption journey. The Home Study is the key ingredient for both the USCIS approval as well as our adoption application (the "Dossier") that is submitted to the Ethiopian government. With the Home Study finalized, we only have three items left to get the Dossier to Ethiopia.

We received the Home Study from our adoption agency (AWAA) today - just 52 days after our Home Study Orientation at the AWAA headquarters in McLean, VA. USCIS needs this to finalize our application. With any luck, we'll get fingerprinted in January and shortly thereafter receive the Immigration approval form (the all-important I-171H Form) that we'll take with us to Ethiopia. This form allows us to legally bring our son into the country for the first time - kind of important! That means we can't lose it while we wait to travel.......which will probably be about this time next year.

AWAA periodically updates the waiting time for the various age ranges of boys and girls who are adopted. Last week's update showed the wait time for infant boys at 4-6 months, considerably shorter than when we first started (about 9-12 months). The official start of the wait time is when the Dossier gets to Ethiopia. That's why we're anxious to complete all of these steps as quickly as possible. If we can get our Dossier to Ethiopia in January, then we may have a referral (the Ethiopian Govt nominating an infant boy to us for adoption) around July-ish.

We're not holding our breath for a referral just yet. We have a lot to do between now and then (just read my mini-tirade in my last posting). We head to Florida next week to spend Christmas with family. With any luck, I can finish shopping before we leave!

14 December 2009

Baby Steps with the Paperwork........Almost Done!

9 weeks and 4 days. That's how much time has elapsed since we received the paperwork from AWAA (our adoption agency) to begin this process. Forgive the pun, but we're taking baby steps at this point. AWAA is reviewing our Home Study and will finalize it very soon. We hope to have it in hand by the end of the week so we can forward it to USCIS.

Speaking of USCIS, we received notification in the mail today that they received our I-600A Form. While it is a standard notification, it indicated the next step is a fingerprint appointment. This gives us some slight encouragement that there's a slim hope to get fingerprinted before I leave for Navy schooling in February.

As Christmas fast approaches (I just realized we'll be driving to Florida for the holiday in just 8 days......I've got to start shopping soon) and we continue to make incremental progress on the paperwork and read a couple of the adoption books we've purchased, I realize that it's quite possible we could have our son by this time next year. Following the adventures of other families through their own web sites and the Ethiopian adoptive families Yahoo Group have been invaluable. Their experiences show that we are not even half way there yet; most of them have taken at least 12 months before traveling to Ethiopia for their child. That still seems forever away at this point.

As with all other challenges we have already faced and those still in our future, we will rely on the Lord's strength instead of our own. Luckily for us, our path between here and Ethiopia has plenty of intermediate challenges to get us warmed up: (1) looking for a house to rent in San Diego - a city we barely know, (2) packing and moving everything....again, (3) renting this house while we're in San Diego, and (4) taking command of a ship.

As always, we will rely on your prayers throughout this journey!

04 December 2009

There's Always Another Form

So there I was......thinking we were near the end of the paperchase. We indeed are well past the half-way point, but I noticed a major form I had forgotten - the I-600A Form. Fortunately for us, another couple adopting from Ethiopia posted when they had submitted the form.

The I-600A Form is what prospective international adoptive families submit to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) to begin the process of applying for an entry visa for the child. Like everything else, this form requires other forms to accompany it. We also have to get fingerprinted again. We've been fingerprinted already for the FBI's background check (which came back clean....scheeewww!). This fingerprinting session is for USCIS to do their own background check, just in case the FBI overlooked something. Of course, this isn't as simple as mailing another fingerprint form......oh nooooooo. We now wait for USCIS to contact us with our appointment. Yes, we'll travel to the local USCIS office and get fingerprinted. I'm just hoping that office isn't three states away.

This is where things could get complicated. I start my Navy school pipeline in February. Therefore, we really need the fingerprinting appointment in January. Here's the other complication - our Home Study isn't finalized yet, and we're not sure if we can get an appointment without the Home Study. Our completed report will be sent to America World next week for finalization. I decided to mail the form without the Home Study in the hopes of getting a fingerprint appointment without it because I figured it couldn't hurt.

We are still super-psyched to have come this far so quickly; keep tabs of our timeline on the right side of our website. We still hope to get the Dossier through the State Dept and to Ethiopia before the end of January. We've come to think that "Dossier" is French for "ginormous packet of forms that requires hundreds of signatures and notarizations."

And no....this hasn't sunk in yet. I think when the Dossier is finally to Ethiopia, we'll begin to realize we'll soon be parents of a wonderful boy.