Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adoption Update

Good news!  We are PAIR approved!  Yay!  It took us a little under 3 months to complete this process.  This means that the US has done their investigation of our case and the circumstances surrounding our son's arrival in the orphanage and gave us a favorable ruling.  Our country is behind our adoption!  :)  So at this point our dossier is being submitted to the Ethiopian courts. They will do their own investigation and then we will be assigned a court date.

I've been inundated with friends and families who stopped me to say "Wow!  Good news!  You passed PAIR!  We're so excited for you!  ....but what the heck does all that mean?"

Even Jena, when I told her the news, said "do we get to bring him home now?"  Well, no.  Not yet.  But we are one step closer.  

For those of you who don't eat sleep and breathe Ethiopian adoption process/law like I do, and for those who are weighing their options about whether or not to begin this journey, let me give you a brief (ish) rundown of the overall process.
Here is the process as it stands today:

1.  Application - You've decided to adopt!  You fill out the application and submit your application fees.

2.  The Paper Chase (Home Study and Dossier)- This involves putting into paper format virtually every aspect of your life.  Financial, medical, psychological, employment, history, parenting style, insurance, criminal history etc.  You'll be fingerprinted several times in this process.  This usually takes families around 6 months, but it's highly variable.  It took us 6 months the first time, 1 month the second time.  By the second time I'd discovered my gift for adoption paperwork.  :)

3.  Dossier logged in Ethiopia (The long wait) - At this point your paperwork has been completed, notarized, and authenticated on state, and federal levels.  It's also been translated into Amharic.  This is where the long wait for a referral begins.  Families typically wait a 1-3 years to be matched with a child (referral).  

4.  Referral!  -  This is the most exciting day.  You've been matched with a child at last.  

5.  PAIR submission - You child's paperwork is submitted along with your home study to USCIS (Immigration) for review.

6.  Embassy Interview -  The US embassy in Addis Ababa Ethiopia conducts an independent investigation of the circumstances of your child's arrival into the orphanage.  This involves either a birth parent or finder interview.  This is an ethics review to be certain the child is a true orphan. 
When this is completed the PAIR letter is issued by the US govt stating that they believe the child is a true orphan and that the family is eligible to adopt.

7.  Ethiopian Court Submission -  This begins first with Ethiopia's ethics investigation into the circumstances of the child being given up.  This involves another interview with the birth parent or finder.  

8.  Adoptive Family Court Date - You get to travel to see your child at last!  You will appear in Ethiopian court before the judge.  If all goes well, this child is officially yours!  Sadly, they must be issued an US visa before you can actually bring them home.  Since this requires several weeks, you must leave your child in Ethiopia, and travel back a few weeks or months later to bring them home.

9.  Embassy Appointment -  Last step before you bring your child home.  After you travel back for the embassy appointment, your little one can finally travel home to the US.  

This process is always changing and evolving.  (Which is probably a good thing, even though it can be frustrating at times.) Which means my synopsis won't be accurate for long.

SO!  As you can see from my list, we are getting closer to travelling.  We know as well as anyone, that you can get stuck at any point, waiting weeks for what seems a very small thing.  So it's really hard to produce timelines.  But we are praying boldly and going in confidently believing that we will travel in early summer.  Until then, we celebrate our little victories and continue to dream of the day we get to meet our son.