For those of you who may not be completely familiar with the process of international adoption or who are new to our blog, I thought it might be helpful if I shared an overview of the adoption process. Here are the basics of our experience:
We applied to America World Adoption Agency in November 2007 and were accepted into their Ethiopia program. This began the paper-chasing phase of the adoption process. Employment verification, insurance letters, identification documents, home study, background checks, and personal references were all gathered, notarized, and certified. This paperwork, called a dossier, was shipped to Ethiopia on June 13, 2008 -- our DTE (dossier to Ethiopia date). Read about the emotions of this here.
Our "ticker" at the top of the blog counts the time since our DTE. We are now waiting for a referral. A referral is when we (the adoptive family) is matched up with an orphan or orphan group. Our paperwork includes approval for two children up to age 6. Referral wait times can be hard to predict, especially with any request outside the more common infant referral. Our agency has suggested that others with similar DTE's as ours might be able to expect a referral in March or April. If no sibling groups have come available by that time, we may be given the opportunity to accept a referral for a single child.
After we accept a referral, AWAA staff in Ethiopia will pursue the legal end of things. We will be assigned a court date. We are cautioned, however, that approximately 30% of cases are not successful on their first appearance in court (often due to an outside organizations's failure to produce necessary paperwork). If we fail to pass court, a new court date will be assigned, usually several weeks later. Only after a successful court case can pictures of and information about any referred child(ren) be shared publicly.
Mike and I will travel to Ethiopia a few short weeks after passing court. We will be in Ethiopia for approximately one week. We will stay in Addis Ababa at a small hotel. All AWAA referred children live at a "transition home" in the city. At this home, we will meet for the first time. A day or so later, we will officially take custody and finalize any more paperwork necessary to come home together.
Then begins the challenge of learning to live together. . . This can be a difficult time for many families. As we approach this new year, we ask for your sensitivity and prayers. The waiting period provides little certainty and can be quite emotional and stressful. A referral may raise hopes, but also anxiety and longing. Finally, the demands of reorienting our family after placement will be great. Thank you to all our wonderful family and friends who we know will support us graciously through the coming months! Your care and concern mean so much!
Hope this helps to clarify the process for any newcomers!