The USCIS said they would electronically send the approval to the National Visa Center (NVC), who will then electronically send it to the US Embassy in Nepal. As of the evening of 12/11, the NVC said they hadn't received it from the USCIS, which means the US Embassy in Nepal hasn't received it yet either. But it needs to be to the US Embassy by Tuesday, 12/15 so we can get registered in 2009 for the 2009 list. Tuesday, 12/15, is practically Monday, 12/14 for us since they are 9 hours and 15 minutes ahead of us. I've made phone calls and sent e-mails to both the USCIS and the NVC, and will keep trying. I'm surprised that it hasn't made it yet since it was sent electronically. Please pray with me that the US Embassy will receive our USCIS approval by Dec. 15 - their time!
I was checking my e-mail on Monday, 11/30, and received an e-mail from my case manager.
She asked if we had our fingerprints taken on the 30th as planned. She also asked for an update on our process. And lastly, she asked me to confirm that the only thing missing from our Dossier was the I-1717H, and that everything else was ready to go. She said if all this is true, it is possible that we could get on the 2009 list!
WHAT?! Did I read that right? You know, the part about being registered in 2009??? So instead of being on the 2010 wait list, we would be on the 2009 list?! That would push us up by hundreds of people!
I could hardly type fast enough back to my case manager to say, "Yes! We got our fingerprints done on Monday, and yes - all we're waiting for is the I-171H. Everything else is done and ready to go." (FYI: The I-171H that she's talking about is the document that gives us approval from our government to internationally adopt.) I heard back from my case manager the very next morning, Monday - 12/1, with this as the subject line: "Please send your dossier ASAP". She asked me to send her the dossier without the I-171H ASAP. She said she would review the original dossier as soon as she got it, then mail it to Nepal. She said that it was very possible we could ge registered on the 2009 list before Nepal closed for the year. But, we need to complete everything this week because the Dossier had to be there by 12/15.
Ahhhh! Thankfully, I had our Dossier basically ready to go, and thankfully, I have a boss at work who let me take some time on Tuesday to tie up the loose ends and get our dossier mailed! By 2 p.m. that day...it was overnighted and on its way to my adoption agency! Eight months of blood, sweat, and tears...38 notarized, state-certified documents and copies of each document...on a FedEx truck to Adoption Ark!
My case manager called me today, Thursday - 12/3, and she said everything looked great. She said, "You did a good job. It's very organized." Music to my ears! There are a few items that she would receive from the state on Friday, 12/4, and once she got those, it would be in the mail and on its way to Nepal. She told me she would have it in the mail by Monday at the very latest, and that she had already talked to their in-country coordinator, who is expecting it by 12/11. Then, he'll register it with the Ministry by the deadline of 12/15.
AHHHH! We're having a baby!
We are now officially waiting! The paperwork is done. The waiting has begun!
Dear Jesus: THANK YOU!
Photo captions: Dec. 1, 2009 - our copies of everything in our dossier packet that are on their way to Nepal!
The fingerprinting went great! Just 20 minutes and we were done. And to think that I was nervous...even my hands were clammy. I guess the first time you do anything, especially of this nature, it's a little nervewracking.
After the fingerprinting was done, we enjoyed lunch at the Olive Garden (we had a gift certificate there - yay!) and then did a wee bit of shopping at Target. It was a fun day!
We only have two things left to do...once we get our USCIS approval, which is called an "I-171H" document, then we will get that notarized and send it to the Secretary of State for certification. Once we get that back from the State, all of our paperwork is DONE! We will send all of it to our agency, and they will send it all to Nepal!!
What an exciting day! State certification on all of your notarized documents is a requirement for the adoption process for proof that the notaries you used are legal. We sent 31 notarized documents to the Secretary of State for certification on Thursday, Nov. 19. On Friday, Nov. 20, the department called me and said they would process them right away since they knew we were on a tight timeframe. We got them back the very next day - Saturday, Nov. 21! And they look amazing! The Secretary of State seal, and signature, is so cool. Thank you, Sam Reed and your staff!
We have 5 more to send for certification. I need to send my birth certificate's (must have two) to Idaho for certification, and then our marriage certificate's (must have two) to Oregon to certify. (These couldn't be certified by Washington because they must be certified in the state where the events took place.) I'll send these on Monday (Nov. 23). Then, once I get our USCIS approval, I need to get that notarized, then sent for certification. Also, there were two of the 31 I received back today that didn't have the gold seal on them for some reason. So, I'll send those back with the USCIS document. No biggie.
We're getting soooo close to having our dossier done! Hallelujah!
After they receive our fingerprinting, we should receive our I-171h form quickly, which is the official approval we need from the USA to adopt. And, it's also the very last document that is needed for our dossier! After we get that, our entire packet will be off to our agency for translation, then on to Nepal!
There are several prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) in this group that have been waiting to be matched to their child since January 2009. Worse yet, there are a few people that have been waiting three and four years! Part of this is because they submitted their dossier before 2008, which is when Nepal closed their program. Nepal re-opened in January 2009.
At any rate, because of the long wait, and political unrest, I asked my case manager at Adoption Ark if she had an understanding of why the referrals were taking so long, and what their experience has been with Nepal. I shared that we were not told that it would take so long to be matched when we signed in to the program, and it concerned me that other families (with other agencies) are having to wait so long.
My case manager answered my questions. In a nutshell:
• This isn't true. There may be some case who applied earlier, and then the adoption program closed for about two years. It re-opened in January 2009, and now it won't take that long. If everything goes well, the PAPs will receive their referral by December 2009.
• The Ministry has given special orders to complete all the cases ASAP.
Such wonderful news to this prospective adoptive mommy!
I inquired of our agency, Adoption Ark, as to how things are looking for the Nepal adoption program. My case manager wrote back on Friday, Nov. 13, to all of us adopting from Nepal though Adoption Ark. Please continue to pray for matches to be made for the waiting families, particularly because the slower the wait for them, the slower the wait for the rest of us when our dossier’s arrive to Nepal in January.
• 22 families have received their child and completed the process
• 40 have received a referral, but have yet to receive their travel approval from Nepal
• Another 40 have been matched by the Ministry, but the matches haven't been mailed out yet
• The Ministry and matching committee are working to complete all the matches
• May complete all the cases within a month or so
The psychological evaluation must be performed by a clinical psychologist and must include the following:
• MMPI-2 test (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2)
• Rorschach Ink Blot Test
• Summary report for each of us describing the interviews and test results
All interviews and tests are deemed to describe our emotional stability, fitness for parenting, social history, feelings about your parenting skills, strength of marriage, self-esteem, commitment level and values.
At first, Andrew and I were a little bit annoyed that we needed to do this since Nepal didn’t require it. Especially since we had to provide so much information for our home study, and the home study interviews and home inspection were so detailed, that, if one could not determine mental health from all of that, then wow! On top of that, it was hundreds of dollars to do the interviews and tests, so that part was frustrating too. (We understand needing to pay for the services, but to pay extra for something that Nepal didn’t even require was what was frustrating to us.)
However, once we took the tests, did the interviews, and read the reports, we were so glad we did it. We learned so much about ourselves!
The MMPI-2 test was a true/false test with 457 questions! It took about 1.5 hours. The interviews, Rohrschach and other test (can’t remember the name) took about 2 hours. All of the tests and interviews were very interesting, especially the Rohrschach and other test I can’t remember the name...we’ll just call it, “storytelling”.
The Rorschach test consisted of 10 different cards that you had to describe. Each card had an ink blot dropped onto it, then folded in half and re-opened creating an image. You had to describe what you thought the image looked like and why.
The “storytelling” test was six different illustrated pictures of people in different settings. You needed to tell a story about the people/setting...what was happening at that moment, what precluded it, and what the future was.
The psychologist told us that both the Rorschach and the storytelling tests were “projective” psychology tests. Our responses would give him an idea of our unconscious wishes, desires and emotions, especially from one person to another. Isn’t that interesting? When he first told us that, I thought, “Yeah, right! Sure it will!”
First of all, the tests nailed us! They described our strengths, weaknesses, emotional stamina, marriage, self-esteem, etc., and even gave hints as to what type of parents we would be!
Second of all, our psychologist pinned us! Based on the interviews and tests, he basically knew exactly who we were. I guess a doctorate degree, 40 years of experience, and some really great, tried-and-true tests actually do work!
Third of all, we found out that we weren’t crazy, and that we’re actually pretty neat people! Yes, we have weaknesses and there are things we need to continue to allow Jesus to transform in us. But the strengths the tests and interviewed showed were pretty eye-opening, and quite special! As the psychologist described what he found in the interviews and tests, I felt like my Father God was sitting across from me saying, “I like who I created!” It was actually very healing.
Fourth of all, we’re smart! I always knew that about Andrew, but haven’t necessarily thought of myself as “smart”. Apparently I am!
And finally, and most importantly, the tests actually showed that Andrew will be a “fun and loving parent” and I will be a “happy and loving parent”. If there was anything that moved me, it was that.
The governmental form to complete for USA approval is the I-600A form, “Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition”. You complete the form, and send in the following items with it:
• Birth certificates
• Marriage certificate
• Home study report
• Social worker credentials
• Home study agency credentials
• $800 application fee
You can send in your I-600A form and money with all of your documents before having your home study approved. Then, when you get your home study approval and report, you can send that along with the social worker and agency credentials.
I sent our I-600A form, certificates and money on July 14. We received a letter from the USCIS on July 24 saying they had received our application and would begin processing it. It also said they would not complete until our home study was received and they would not schedule our fingerprinting appointment until they received the home study.
Having received the home study report on Oct. 22, I immediately sent it, along with the social worker and agency credentials, to USCIS on the same day. They say it takes 6-8 weeks to receive USCIS approval, so I wanted to get the home study stuff in the mail immediately.
Now, we wait to get our date in which we to go to Yakima or Spokane to get official fingerprints taken.
We’re getting so close to having everything done! I am in the process of sending all of our documents to the Secretary of State to certify that the notary on our documents is a true person and a true notary. This process is called “State certification”. Once I get all of our state-certified documents back, and the USCIS approval to adopt, we will be done with all of our paperwork. This paperwork will be put into what’s called a “Dossier”. We expect to be able to send our Dossier by the end of November.
We will mail our Dossier to our case manager. She will confirm that everything is there, and everything is right. If we need to make any changes, she will let us know. After Dossier approval, she will send it to a native-Nepalese speaking translator. That person will translate everything. Then, it will officially go to Nepal in January and we will officially be waiting for our baby!
If the home study is not approved, you do not get to adopt. While we were sure that we would get approved, there is nothing like getting the actual document that says you’re approved. And, this 12-page final document represents four months of time, and hours of work for me and Andrew, and our social worker too. You might have noticed from an earlier post, we sent 88 pages of content and information in June to our social worker for the home study! Then, we traveled to Seattle for a day of interviews, and had a home inspection at our house as well. And since that time, there has been several e-mails between me and our social worker to answer additional questions, etc.
So...with approvals in hand (and a report of our lives summed up in 12 pages), we are well on our way to our Nepal baby!
We are having a dinner fundraiser on September 12. We had a night where we made about seven different Nepalese dishes. Andrew's parents (Anne and Kendal) came over to enjoy dinner with us, and be taste-testers. (It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.) Everything turned out GREAT! Now we just have to narrow it down from seven dishes to four.
Once our social worker has reviewed all of our home study stuff, she will call us to set-up our interviews. We have two interviews, and one home inspection. In the meantime, we will begin to work on our requirements for the dossier. The dossier is what will eventually be translated into Nepalese, and sent to Nepal for approvals, etc. We also need to set-up our psychologist interviews, and exams.
Thank you so much for your prayers and amazing support. Please continue to pray that the process would go smooth; we would receive all of our approvals; and most of all--please pray for our beloved baby.
Soon-to-be-mommy & daddy,
Heather and Andrew
1. You will be expected to jump through hoops. When something is requested of you do not ask why just do it and do it fast! YOUR adoption will not happen without work from YOU.
2. Nothing is impossible. It may be difficult to obtain a document in one day with an authentication but it is possible and you will find a way. Be creative!
3. Delays are inevitable. All time frames in adoption are estimates but there will always be speed bumps and delays in the process. Do not let it get you down, roll with it.
4. Changes always happen. Changes to paperwork requirements, time frames, length of travel, dates of travel, etc. CAN and DO happen. It is important to be flexible!
5. Attention to detail is a must. Please double and triple check your dossier paperwork. Keep track of dates, notaries, expirations and numbers. All documents must be consistent in spelling of names, financial information, age of child desired, etc. Every detail matters.
6. There will be a waiting period. No matter what country you are adopting from or what age of child there will be a period of time where there is nothing to do by wait. Use this time to live your life, spend it with friends and family, prepare for your child and keep educating yourself about adoption.
7. Almost everything is out of your control. This is a scary thought but a fact of the process. You are at the mercy of the foreign government where your child lives – they will work at their own pace and by their own rules. You do not have to like it but you have to accept it!
8. Be aware of cultural differences. The rest of the world does not do things exactly like Americans. During this process and especially when you travel to the foreign country be respectful of the differences and understand that there is more than one way to do things.
9. Entitlement. The foreign government acts in the best interest of the children, not the adoptive parents. You may not view it this way as it does not always match American standards of “best interest” however the other governments believe they are protecting the children. The foreign government is not asking American families to come adopt their children. They are under no obligation to release confidential information or expedite the process. Until the adoption is finalized - families do not have rights to the child and are not entitled to confidential information about the child. Adoption is not a right and not an entitlement – rather a privilege, a gift and blessing. It is understood that from American perspective that you are spending a lot of money and time to help a child so may feel like you deserve all the rights and information however the perspective of the foreign governments is much different so understanding this may help your mind frame.
10. No child is perfect but they all need families. Any child that spends time in an orphanage will be exposed to illness, will have some delays, and will have come from a difficult background prior to being institutionalized. Please be aware that these children need love and attention but may also need medical care. Educate yourself on common diagnoses of orphanage children and find a good international adoption doctor to help you evaluate. The more informed you are about what to expect – the less scary it will be when you receive your referral or meet your child for the first time.11. Adoption is worth it every time. The journey is long and hard and takes strength, perseverance and love but once your child is home you will agree – all the hard work was worth it.
Taken from Adoption ARK’s website, “Alina Radoslav was born in Romania. She graduated from a prestigious University in Timisoara with a diploma in Psychology and Pedagogy. She also received a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Management. Alina decided to learn and work in this field because she loves children. Alina began her career as a high school teacher and then moved into a psychologist position at a private counseling center in Romania. These experiences helped Alina better understand children's minds and hearts. For her, helping children is not work; it is a life style. Alina feels best when doing work that changes lives forever and brings happiness to so many families. Having the opportunity to work in the adoption field is the most rewarding and noble mission ever!” If you’d like, you can see Alina’s picture by going here: http://adoptionark.org/public/pag8.aspx. Scroll down about halfway. She is beautiful, and has a beautiful daughter!
I’ve talked to Alina several times over e-mail. We officially got to meet on the phone last Thursday, 4/30. She is wonderful! She talked through the process with me and shared more about Nepal. Nepal was on hold for adoptions for 18 months as they (Nepal) fine-tuned their processes. Things are back up and running and there are 10 families at Adoption ARK that have completed their paperwork for 2009 and are waiting to receive their referral. (Oh Jesus, bless them!) Alina said that Adoption ARK is VERY familiar with all of the details that Nepal requires, and she will walk through each one of them with me in this next year. She also said that as the 10, 2009 families, complete their adoptions this year, she will send us their names/e-mail addresses (with their permission) so we can talk with them about their experiences.
Alina gave us our marching orders. She said there is a lot to work on, but she wants me just to focus on the things she assigns to us. The reason is because we are on the 2010 list for adoption (the Nepal quota for 2009 has been met—they only allow 10 adoptions per year, per agency), and she doesn’t want things done too quickly to ensure they don’t expire before we receive our referral in 2010. In most cases, things expire after 1 year. So, right now, we are to:
1. Determine a home study agency, and get it approved by Alina.
2. Upon approval, start our home study.
3. Get our psychological exams done. We are required to be interviewed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, and to take two psych tests: the MMPI-2 and the Rorschach Ink Blot Test.
4. Start our 10 hours of required adoption education.
5. Get our FedEx account set-up and send Alina the information. (This is done; just need to send it to Alina.)
All-in-all, Alina said she wants everything done by October/November. This means everything: the home study, psych exams, FBI fingerprints, adoption education, USCIS I600A stuff. All of this stuff will be put into our full dossier, except the psych exams. (The psych exams are not a requirement for adoption; they are a requirement of our agency.) Alina will send our dossier for translation in December, and than in January 2010, she will send our translated dossier to the orphanages in Nepal. Then we wait for our referral! All of this stuff takes about 6 months to accomplish, and we have just that, which means we don’t have to rush anything! That’s a great feeling.
And we were assigned our case manager. She e-mailed us on Friday, 4/24, and she sounds amazing.
Also, we received our first baby gifts!! My friend, Felicia, had made us baby blankets this last January (unbeknown to us) and prayed over them while she made them, asking for Jesus to bring us babies. WOW. After we told her about the adoption, she went home and got the blankets and surprised us with them, along with a beautiful letter she wrote after she had completed them (on 1/09/09).
Today, we came home from church, and waiting for us was a gift from our dear friends, Kari and Steve Potter. Kari bought us baby shirts, three books, two stuffed animals and a toy, along with a lovely card and balloon. So fun!! By the way, one of the baby shirts had a monkey on it. How appropriate is that? They must know us well. :-)
A few weeks later, on Monday, 4/20, I was having lunch with a friend. She said, "When I saw you at church yesterday, I saw that you are a mommy." And then later on in our conversation, she said, "And during the sermon, I felt to give the scripture to you that's in Isaiah, 'My house will be a house of prayer for all nations.' "
Wow...talk about some confirmations! Thank You, Jesus! We can't wait to bring the nations into our home.
We are excited to share the wonderful news that we are in the process of adopting a baby from Nepal! We are working with an agency called "Adoption ARK" and we started our process in early April. So, we are just at the beginning! They say that it'll take about a year. We have asked for an infant, 6 months to 12 months old, boy or girl. (You can’t adopt a baby less than 6 months old.)
You may wonder—why Nepal? We first looked into India, but India is currently closed for adoption unless you want to adopt a child with extreme special needs (i.e., cerebral palsy). We also looked into Guatemala but they are currently closed as well. Lastly, The Philippines was of interest to us, but you can only adopt kids 2+ years, and Indonesia was of interest as well, but you have to live there for 2 years before you can adopt from there!
So, Andrew brought up Nepal and the rest is history. And the Lord truly has put Nepal deep in our hearts since we have begun this process! Right now, I can't imagine adopting from anywhere else because we already feel connected to the people of Nepal. It's amazing what Jesus can do!
When we first pre-qualified for adoption from Nepal (Wed., 4/8), we were put on the waiting list for 2010. There is a waiting list because Nepal only adopts to 65 agencies in the entire world, and only 10 children per agency, per year. That’s just 650 kids a year, and Nepal has 100,000 orphans. Anyway...with just 10 kids per agency per year, we expected to be on the waiting list for awhile. I personally didn’t think we’d hear anything until the end of this year. But, to our blessed surprise, we heard from the agency on Thurs., 4/16, just 8 days after we were on the waiting list. Our adoption consultant e-mailed us saying our name came up for the 2010 Nepal Adoption Program waitlist, and we could officially begin our paperwork for an adoption to be submitted in 2010.
We were elated!! We received the contract Mon., 4/20. We were required to turn it around, along with a payment, within 72 hours. They have to put a timeframe on the turnaround time of the contract to ensure that you are serious about it and to not keep others waiting that are on the list in case you decide not to do it. We completed our contract review and application (35 pages!) by Wed., 4/22, and sent everything off. We received news on Thurs., 4/23, that our contract was accepted, is being processed, and that we can start our home study. We were introduced to our case manager on Fri., 4/24, who is going to walk us through the rest of the process all the way to the point of having our new baby in our arms.
Here is the agency we are working with: http://www.adoptionark.com/
You can see photo albums of one of the agency's Nepal visits by clicking here: http://www.arkmission.org/.
Then click on photo/video album and then you'll see the various Nepal photo albums that you can click on.
You can also YouTube “Nepal”, as well as Google “Nepal” and “Nepal Children” to see and learn more.
Thank you for sharing in our joy, and joining us in this amazing journey!
First photo: Me and Andrew skyped his brother and sister-in-law in Atlanta to share with them the good news. (I love that you can see the picture of the orphanage in the background in this photo!)
Second photo: Our first official step in the adoption process: Reading, filling out and signing the Nepal adoption contract.