So we have decided to pursue an adoption from China again. For B.S. #3 (That's Baby S. #3, although really Casey and Marcie aren't so much babies anymore). I was obsessing about it a while back, in May. And then I got sidetracked studying. Well, not really. Adoption's been on my mind-- I just haven't had much time to write about it. But now is the time I answer your burning questions:
1. Why China?
We kicked it around quite a bit back in May, as you know if you read regularly. I really struggled with it. I felt kind of strongly that I wanted to return to Asia because I want to be able to maintain some sort of connection to my children's roots. We already have two continents covered, and adding a third seemed a bit daunting to me (though truth be told, if things don't work out with China for us, we'll be making a bee-line to Ethiopia!).
Here's what it came down to for us. I did a boatload of research on Taiwan adoptions. They are private adoptions. We'd hire a US agency to coordinate with a nursery in Taiwan. We did select an agency-- the one agency we received so much positive feedback about, I felt very comfortable with them. I received a lot of unsolicited recommendations, and that's always a good sign. Their Taiwan program coordinator was amazingly patient, personable, and responsive. If you're contemplating Taiwan, you might look into FCA. They work with Cathwel in Taiwan. The thing is that the wait was going to be 18 months (average) until match-- and stretching. Plus another 6 months or so while the paperwork moved through the courts. And that's in addition to the homestudy. So basically we're looking at about 2 years from time of turning in paperwork. I was okay with the wait (there are several other agencies that have shorter waits, but many are new or I got very mixed reviews or they were terrible at follow-up). But then I started thinking-- if we're going to wait 2 years anyway, why not go back to China? With an agency I love, love, love? Plus, Taiwan was looking like it was going to cost substantially more (I estimated in the $10,000 range more), and with that extra money, we could bring the kids with us to China-- which might be nice (depending on their ages and temperaments at the time we travel). Given the risks involved in the Taiwan adoptions, the length of the wait, the additional costs, and the unknowns, we opted for China again.
2. What about the new restrictions? Do you qualify?
Yeah. We qualify. If something weird happens when we're in the review room, we'll have a valid international homestudy, we'll eat the agency cost, and we'll head for Ethiopia. Seriously.
3. Who are you using for the adoption?
We've returned to CCAI as our agency and Adoption Options as our homestudy agency. One of the reasons I was leaning against a California-based Taiwan agency is because they didn't work with Adoption Options, and I have had such a positive experience with them that I just didn't want to start a whole new homestudy process. Returning to agencies that have worked with us means they have a lot of our information and paperwork on file already, which makes our lives a lot easier.
4. Why now? Don't you think you should wait until after the Bar Exam?
Actually, making a decision is a huge relief. And perhaps we should wait until after July to start the paperwork, but with estimates placing the wait for a child from China estimated to stretch to 3 years, we know that getting paperwork done sooner rather than later makes sense. So we're taking it slowly, step by step, piece by piece. And when all the paperwork is together, we'll mail it in.
5. When do you think you'll be finished with "the paperchase"? What is the "paperchase" anyway?
Paperchasing is adoption lingo for gathering all the paperwork you need in your dossier. The dossier is the document that gets translated and sent to the China Center for Adoption Affairs, where they comb through your information and approve you as a prospective adoptive family. It includes birth certificates, marriage certificate, criminal clearance letters, proof of employment, proof of medical insurance, medial reports, a homestudy (which has a whole additional host of documents), a financial statement, and an adoption petition-- that's the brunt of it. To complete the dossier, though, not only do we have to collect all the right forms, but the forms have to go through a series of notarizations, certifications, and authentications to prove we haven't forged them or obtained them fraudulently. In addition to these documents, the homestudy is sent to USCIS (US Center for Immigration Services? I have no idea what it stands for; I'm totally making it up)-- anyway, they review the homestudy to approve us to bring home an orphan from a foreign country and they essentially pre-approve a visa for the child. This form/permission is the coveted 1-171H. And once that's in your hands, you can send everything off for certifications and authentications.
We are hoping to have our homestudy finished in August. We are hoping to have our paperwork all completed in September for shipment to our agency in October. Some of that will depend on whether we do all the notarizing, certifying, and authenticating ourselves, or if we have our agency do it for us. This process involves getting each document notarized. Then having our County Clerk certify the notary signature. Then having the Secretary of State in the local office certify the County Clerk signature (which is certifying the notary signature). Then we send all of that to the appropriate Chinese Consulate, which authenticates the Secretary of State signature (which is certifying the county clerk signature, which is certifying the notary signature). As you might imagine, that's rather time consuming.
6. Do you want a boy or a girl?
Yes. We want a boy or a girl. Or maybe we'll be brave and even request twins (which we'd never get, seeing as how we already have two kiddos). We go back and forth on this. We may request a boy. But even if we do, we'll make it clear we would be happy with a girl, too. We did not request a gender last time; we just requested a child "as young as possible." In the end, gender just isn't that important to us. On the one hand, I'd love to have another boy. On the other hand, I'd love to have another girl. Especially because Marcie is the only girl out of 7 grandkids. (Anyone else in the H. or S. families want to work on that for us? You know, ensure Marcie have a female playmate. . . we'd be cool with that!)
7. How old will the baby be?
We don't know. We qualify for a child ages 0-12 months old. And so that's what we will request.
8. Will the baby be from the same orphanage as Marcie?
Again, we don't know. We will be requesting a child from Yunyang Chengxiang Social Welfare Institute, which is where Marcie is from. We will be requesting a child from Chongqing Municipality, also where Marcie is from. We don't mind getting a child from anywhere in China, though. Going somewhere new would be a nice adventure. Returning to Chongqing would be nice, too-- we'd know what to expect, and it makes "returning to roots" much easier. But we're not that picky. We'll request these things, but I'm confident we'll end up with the child who is meant to be ours, no matter what part of China the child is from.
9. When will you meet the baby?
As I explained before, we're expecting the wait to stretch to two or three years. That puts us in China some time in 2010 or 2011. That's still awfully far away, which is why we're starting the process now. Marcie will be at least 5 by then. Casey will be 8. That's a bigger age spread than I'd ever planned. On the other hand, Jason will be home full time by then, and it's just more time to pay off debts and put away money. With five of us in our home, we'll be considering a home addition by the time 2011 rolls around, I think. If we can afford it. (Ah, to dream!)
10. Will this be "it"?
I don't know. We always planned to have at least three children. I can't say we'll close our hearts to additional family members after that. I can't say we'll seek another adoption actively, either. Let's see how things go with BS #3 and we can move forward from there.
11. What's your timeline so far?
I am keeping track of a timeline, which I'll be adding to the right margin eventually. Like I said, we're on schedule for now!
Have a question I didn't answer? E-mail me and I'll give you a response!