The Adoption Process (in a nutshell)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My friend Jessica left a comment the other day asking some questions about the adoption process. It's a crazy ride that apparently, like many big life changes, never goes completely smoothly - but here's the gist of what we will go through before brining our babies home:

(This our process with America World Adoption Agency for  an Ethiopian adoption for a young child. Domestic adoptions are very different as is the process in other countries and for older children.)


After acceptance with American World Adoption Agency we were sent what felt like hundred-thousand pdf documents to fill our and notarize. All these documents will go into a big packet called a dossier. The dossier is translated and sent to a branch of the Ethiopian government called the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs. They will either accept or deny our application (once accepted with an adoption agency your refusal in the foreign country is rare).

The dossier is primarily comprised of three main parts - a Home Study, Visa papers (for the child(ren), and for lack of a better term, "lifestyle"documents.

The Home Study is conducted in-state with a social worker. He (in our case) visited our home three times and did both personal and couple interviews. Asking us things from how we handle stress to our saddest childhood memory to our feelings about meeting our adopt child's birth parents. After touring the home tour, interviews, meeting Landon, two sets of fingerprints, and document collection (he needed a stack of paperwork too) then he wrote a report on us and our ability to raise adopted children. The report is about 10 pages in length and pretty much covers our entire life story.

Our Home Study should be finalized tomorrow! This is huge for us and I am really excited to check it off as done. Then I will take a copy of the completed Home Study report to send away for our visa(s) for the adopted children. This involves more paperwork, finger-printing, and time as we wait for immigration to process our papers.

Meanwhile, I have simultaneously been working on dossier lifestyle papers. This stack of paperwork includes things such as birth certificates, medical exams, blood testing, police clearances, letters of recommendation, employment letters, proof of insurance, ten hours of online adoption education, etc. Each and every paper must be notarized. We have collected and notarized about 80% of these documents already! woot! woot!

Once all three parts of collected we will have the entire stack state certificated. Then is is ready to go to AWAA and from there is will be translated and sent to Ethiopia!

At that point we are considered DTE (dossier to Ethiopia).


The next step is called the paper pregnancy. And, like a natural pregnancy, mostly involves a bunch of waiting. And reading about being parents again (our agency gives us 5 books to read plus a whole list more to consider). Praying and preparing our hearts for our referral.  Mostly likely we will wait 7-10 months for referral.


At some point during the paper pregnancy our family will be "on deck." This means we are towards the top of the adoptive parents list and our referral call should come shortly. The referral call is very, very exciting. Referral is when a family is "matched" with a child or children. We will be sent pictures and medical reports for the children. We can then either accept of reject our referral. You may only reject a referral two (or three) times.

You might wonder why I am unsure if we will be adopting one or two children. The reason being is we have requested to adopt two young siblings. And although there are many, many orphaned siblings in Ethiopia not all children have the necessary paperwork required to be adopted. Therefore, when it is time for our referral young siblings may not be available. If that is the case we will be matched with one infant.


After accepting our referral the child(ren) are transferred from the orphanage to our agency's transition home. Then we wait for our Ethiopian court date. This can happen quickly or, once again, take a few months. Once we have a date we quickly (you often don't have too much notice) fly to Ethiopia (trip #1). We get to meet our child!! and (hopefully) pass court the first time. Sometimes you don't pass immediately and therefore have to go home while your agency stands in for you.

Honestly, I don't know too much about the process after this point. I haven't yet been filled in. However, I do understand that usually there isn't much time between the two trips (2-6 weeks). Some parents chose to stay in Ethiopia for the entire time. I would absolutely love to but I'm not really certain that is feasible for us. We will see.


Obviously, the second trip is to pick up your child and bring them home!! We would also love to spend some time exploring Ethiopia and our son/daughter's cultural heritage.

It's going to be a crazy journey!!!


nicole aka gidget said...

Congratulations on getting your home study complete- such a milestone! We adopted our son (domestic/open) last year and it was quite a ride, but such an amazing blessing, of course. I'll be praying for you as you await the perfect addition(s) to your family!

Erin said...

Question... If you guys do decide to try and stay the whole time (which would be amazing!!!) do you think you'll bring Landon with you? I was watching a documentary and the parents brought their daughter to fly out and get their second daughter. It was cool. I would love to do that with our girls but I know it would be expensive.

Emery Jo said...

so awesome!! what an exciting journey you guys are on... congrats!

Two Cent Sparrow said...

Thanks so much for all the sweet encouragement!!!

@Erin - we would LOVE to take Landon with us if we stay the entire time b/c I can't image being away from him for that long. But, it really depends on how many child we are placed with and expenses. I can't imagine flying home with three little people for 20+ hours! Not to mention the cost. But, it would be amazing to have him there so I would really, really like to. I have started the process of getting him a passport just in case we can swing it and he can come.

Brittany said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing!!

Two Cent Sparrow.
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