Here's a little bit about the adoption process...all of which I had no idea about before we began this process, so I thought I'd share what I have learned, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about as we go along!
First step: choose an adoption placement agency. Our agency is One World Adoption Services (OWAS)
www.oneworldadoptions.org to learn more about the agency
www.oneworldorphanage.org/DRC.html to learn about the orphanage where our child is living before coming home
Second: Choose a local adoption agency to complete the Homestudy. The Homestudy is a compilation of information about us and our family. Information that we have to gather include: background checks, medical clearance exams, birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, financial report, written autobiographies, and questionnaires about our views on adoption and marriage. Most of these documents have to be certified or notarized. We will also complete 10 hours of on site education. Once we have completed the above we will meet with our caseworker a second time in the office, then once in our home. After submitting all of the above information and completeing the visits, the caseworker will then compile a document about us, recommending us as acceptable adoptive parents (hopefully!). This is what the governments will be looking at in order to complete the next step and ultimately issue the child's Visa.
Third: Submit a Dossier to OWAS to be translated and submitted to the Congolese government. The Dossier includes the completed homestudy, some immigration paperwork and a lot of the same certified/notarized forms as the homestudy. I'll update this more as I learn more about it myself!
Fourth: After the Dossier has been submitted we will then be approved to officially adopt a child from the Congo and we will be placed on a waiting list to receive a "referral". Our agency average wait time is "0-12 months" from submission of Dossier to referral. The referral includes any known information about a specific child. The agency will be working with us in terms of child preference to match us as closely as possible to a child from their orphanage. Once we receive the referral we will have 2 weeks to accept or decline the child referred to us. Once the referral has been accepted, we will then work on more immigration paperwork, this time specifically for this child. This form is called the I-600 (Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative). Currently the time frame for I-600 approval is about 3 months.
Finally: After I-600 approval, we can request an appointment from the embassy in Congo for Visa processing for our child, at this time this is taking about 2 months. Once an appointment is issued we will be given clearance to travel. We will then buy our plane tickets and travel to Kinshasa, Congo. At this time we are planning for both of us to travel to bring our child home. We will be staying at St. Anne's Convent, next to the US Embassy and across the street from the orphanage. While in country we will appear before a judge to request a letter from Congolese Emigration for the child to leave the country. Once approval is granted, we get to bring our baby home!!!
The approximate time to complete the adoption process at this time is 12-18 months...
It's a bedtime tradition that began with Little Nutbrown Hare, and each night we try to outdo the last...I love you to the moon and back...to the beach and back...to the mountians...and one of my favorites, "to Jesus and the angels" and back...We never imagined we would be saying, I love you to Africa and back...it seems like the furthest imaginable place, but yet in God's perfect timing, we plan to go.... to Africa and back!!! And when we get back, we will have another little cheek to kiss goodnight...please keep us in your prayers and enjoy this journey with us!