Our Adoption Story – International Adoption Process

Chinese lantern Pinterest pin for international adoption

This post is long overdue but the last several months we have been knee-deep in paperwork as we navigate the international adoption process.  Many adoptive families say there feel paper pregnant and we have definitely felt that way!  If you missed the first three adoptions posts you can read our announcement here, part 1 here and part 2 here. Today, I am going to walk you through the first part of our international adoption process!

Choosing an Adoption Agency

After we decided in September to pursue international adoption, we got busy filling out our adoption agency application.  From all our research, most people recommended choosing an agency based on word of mouth experience.  So, we chose the agency Scott’s Sister’s family used for their first adoption.  They were using them for their 2nd adoption so we figured that was good proof they liked their experience.

We got accepted by our agency and I had my first phone conversation with our social worker.  It was a warm fall morning and the big kids were at school.  Lucy played nearby as I sat in our white rocking chair.  It was surreal talking about our adoption and walking through the process after praying about it for so long.  Our social worker walked me through the process and answered my pressing questions.

Due to some new Chinese laws, we would not be eligible to adopt until Lucy (our youngest) was 3 years old.  However, we could start the domestic side of the adoption and when she turned 3 in June, we would be ready to notify China!  I just remember choking up several times during the conversation.  I was equal parts scared and excited but my heart knew this was God’s plan for our family.

Our Home Study & I-800A Approval

In October, we got accepted and had our orientation meeting.  We would be using our main agency for our dossier and referral but they could not do our home study.  Thankfully, they recommended another agency, we applied to that agency, got accepted and we began our home study in December.

I was so nervous to have a stranger come to our home and poke around.  What would she say?  Thankfully, she quickly put my fears to rest and we instantly hit it off.  She made the hours of interviews feel more like a conversation amongst friends.  She visited 3 times, interviewed us as a couple, as individuals and even interviewed the kids.

I’ll never forget when she asked Vera what she was scared about and Vera responded “strangers and thunderstorms.”  Our social worker quickly course corrected and asked “what are you scared about with the adoption?” to which Vera answered, “nothing”.   Our social worker had recently returned from a trip to China where they worked in orphanages and she told stories about what she saw.  All of us, but especially the kids, were attentive listeners.

We wrapped up home study at the end of January and she submitted the final copy to our referring agency in February.  From there, we got to work on our I-800A which is the paperwork that pre-authorizes us to immigrate a child to the United States.  We headed to the federal building downtown to get our biometric scan which really was just fancy dancy fingerprint scans.  We mailed all that paperwork off by the end of March.

Prepping Our Dossier

In the meantime, we started making appointments for our adoption physicals and started compiling all the paperwork necessary for our dossier.  Everything from tax statements, proof of employment, birth and marriage certificates, physical exams for everyone, a psychiatric evaluation for me, and our complete financial standing.  Scott and I would block off a time on the weekends and work together to make a to-do list, scan, and copy!

At the end of April, our I-800A was approved.  We mailed our dossier packet off to our agency on Mother’s Day!  A great way to commemorate Mother’s Day!

We were ahead of schedule and feeling good but paperwork takes time ;)!  The next step in the dossier phase is to have your paperwork authenticated at the state and federal level.  We got word from our agency that our file was rejected in Iowa because of a bad notary signature on one document.  We got it all redone and our paperwork was approved in Iowa in June and then sent to Washington D.C. to be authenticated.  Everything cleared and our paperwork was sent to China on July 17th, 2018!

Officially DTC

So, now that our paperwork is in transit to China – we are officially DTC (dossier to China).  When they get our paperwork, they will review it and officially log us into the system.  We hope to hear within the next week or two that we are officially LID, meaning we are logged in and ready to receive referral files.

Due to some law changes, adoption agencies no longer have partnerships with orphanages so the centralized system makes it a longer process to get a referral.  Our social worker told us we should get matched within the next few months.  I am not going to lie, it’s so hard to wait but my wise husband reminded me we have made it this far, we know God’s perfect timing will prevail.

Praying and Waiting

If you made it to this point, in this very long update, thank you!  I hope this post gives you a glimpse into the international adoption process.  No adoption is identical but when we were researching adoption, I wanted to read other adoptive families’ stories to help give insight into what we might experience.  I hope to pay it forward.

We will keep you posted.  If you think of it, please pray for us.  Pray for our child, for us to be united in a decision and for God’s provision in finances.  The average cost of an international adoption is $35,000.  We have seen God provide financially already and are trusting Him to help us with the remainder of the cost.  We have about $20,000 left to pay.  He has carried us this far.  We know He will guide us but we also believe in the power of prayer :)!



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