April 08, 2011

Update on Adoption

We had our first home visit yesterday with the FRC (Family Resource Center) social worker. The social worker basically comes to your house for a few hours, asks a bunch of invasive questions and then looks around to make sure your chemicals/medications are up high or locked (which, of course, none of ours were) and that our smoke detectors work (worked perfectly) and that if we had a fire in our house and the doors were blocked that the kids would have some way of getting out (I told her that they should jump out the window - a broken leg is better than being on fire - I don't know if that was the right answer).

We are working with CAWLI (China Adoption With Love, Inc.) for the placement portion of the adoption. They are located in Massachusetts. We chose them because we heard they were great and they are cheap. My friend Christy did a lot of research and is knowledgeable in all things adoption, and she and her husband are also starting the process to adopt their fourth child. So, I'm just doing what she's doing.

So here's how this works:
- we complete our home study and get fingerprinted (get cleared by the FBI) - takes about 2 months (we're about half way or more through this now). This also includes the 10 hours of training we need to get on things like: what to expect when you adopt and what problems could possibly arise when adopting from China - this is basically red tape to make sure everyone is on the same page. They don't account for experience - that we have adopted two children from China already. We don't have a special training certificate for that, so it doesn't count. It also doesn't count if you're in two adoption support groups, have read 20+ books and watched multiple DVDs on adoption. It counts if you've sat in a classroom and listened to a speaker talk about adoption- or parenting-related issues. Lame.
- FRC must submit our home study to CAWLI, DCFS, us, and some other place for approval - about 4 weeks
- then we submit our home study with our Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child (I-800A form) - takes 2-3 weeks
- get fingerprinted again
- receive approval to adopt (receive form I-171H) - about 6-8 weeks after being fingerprinted 2nd time.
- CAWLI will process our dossier (all our paperwork/home study) - get it translated, notarized, certified, authenticated - 3-4 weeks
- CAWLI sends the dossier to China
- wait for referral - the time for this depends on the number of children that the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) puts on the viewing list that match the child with special needs we feel we're equipped to handle (girl, age 0-3, born with cleft lip/palate and/or orthopedic issues like club foot, missing limbs, and others), as well as how fast our reps fingers are at CAWLI. CAWLI waits in the middle of the night for the list to come out on a pre-determined day - given by CCAA - then the different agencies basically compete against each other to "lock-in" a child for the families they're representing (therefore, the need for fast fingers). The lists come out about 1x/month. This method doesn't seem right somehow, but this is the way China is doing it. So, our wait for a referral could be a few days or months depending on how many other families in the world are waiting for a child with the same needs as we are and how many children are available with those needs. Cleft lip/palate is the most common special need seen. Our rep at CAWLI thinks our wait may be on the shorter side because we are open to a child up to age 3, but because we are seeking a girl, that could make it a longer wait.
- after we get our referral we send our acceptance letter of the referral to China and plan our travel - about 8-12 weeks.
- spend 2 weeks in China.

So, to sum it up, we're looking at least 7-12 months before we would travel to China.

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