Friday, January 30, 2015

Where are we in the process?

We received this timeline in an email and it was so helpful in seeing what's going on while we wait.  There are so many steps and things that are happening that we don't even think about.    

 1.       Dossier to AWAA
Once your dossier arrives in our offices,
*we review it for completeness (5 business days),
*we send it electronically for translation (5 days to 3 weeks for translation based on translator availability),
*we prepare it for the Haitian Consulate (3 business days),
*we mail it to the Haitian Consulate in Chicago for authentication and receive it back (3-5 days), and
* we make 5 full copies (4 to send to Haiti and 1 for our files).

2.       Dossier to Haiti (5-7 days to mail to Haiti)
Your dossier will be sent by Fed Ex or carried to Haiti by AWAA staff and delivered to Aimee Wilson, AWAA’s in-country adoption representative, or the orphanage lawyer depending on the orphanage preference/process.

3.       Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MOFA (3 weeks – 8 weeks)
Once your dossier arrives in Haiti and is delivered to the orphanage’s lawyer, your dossier will be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for legalization.   During this process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs determines whether all required documentation is included in your dossier and legalizes the authentication by the Consulate General of the Haiti in Chicago.

4.       Submission to IBESR (Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches)
Once your dossier is legalized by MOFA, the orphanage will contact myself and Aimee Wilson, our in-country adoption representative.  A formal cover letter will be attached to your dossier in both French and English, indicating the contents of your dossier, the orphanage you have chosen to adopt from, your child request  and the contact information for the orphanage and their lawyer.  Aimee will submit your dossier to the IBESR and receive a receipt indicating that your dossier was formally submitted.  On this receipt will be a File # specific to your family. 
-The IBESR is the Haitian Adoption Authority that processes the child’s orphan status and approves prospective adoptive parents to adopt Haitian children.

5.       Wait for a Formal Referral from IBESR (6 to 8 months – at this time)
Your dossier will be in the IBESR for a minimum of 6-8 months. During this time, the IBESR will conduct 2 birth parent interviews for each child and birth parent adoption counseling.  Abandoned children will go through a paperwork process to confirm their orphan status.  At this stage, the IBESR is confirming the orphan status of the children that meet your child request.  The IBESR’s multi-disciplinary team will determine which child is the right match for your family.  In many instances the IBESR will communicate with the orphanage’s multi-disciplinary team or social worker for suggested matches.  At this time, the IBESR is stating that the matching process takes 6-8 months from time of dossier submission.

6.       Formal Referral from the IBESR
Once a child has been formally matched to your family, the IBESR will notify AWAA by email of the formal referral.  You will receive a formal letter of referral from the IBESR, one picture (in black and white), a social history, psychological evaluation, medical lab results and possibly a legal document. You will have 14 days from the date of the cover letter to respond to the IBESR in writing with your proposed travel dates.  They will confirm that the IBESR social worker can accommodate your dates and will inform AWAA when you can make travel arrangements.

7.       Bonding/Socialization Trip – Trip #1 – 14 days
You will travel to Haiti to meet your child and stay for your 14 day bonding trip. During this trip, a social worker from the IBESR will meet with your family to evaluate your bonding experience and to interview you.  You will also file your I600 in Haiti during this trip.   

8.   Exit the IBESR (2 weeks to 2 months after bonding trip)
Once you have returned home from your bonding trip, the IBESR social worker will submit a report to the IBESR approving the match for your family. IBESR will prepare your “exit letter” and contact the orphanage lawyer that your dossier is ready to be picked up.

9.       Parquet (1-2 months)
Once your dossier has been picked up from the IBESR, the lawyer will submit it to Parquet, also referred to as pre-court.

10.   Court System (1-2 months)
Once the District Attorney has approved your dossier in Parquet and it will be sent through the court system.  You will not have to travel to appear in court as your POA will allow the orphanage representative to act on your behalf.  Once this court process is complete, your child will have your last name and you will have an adoption decree.

11.   Attestation Signature (National Archives) (2  to 4 weeks)
During this stage the signature on the act of adoption from court will be legalized.

12.   Minister of Justice (2 weeks to 3 months)
This is a legalization process where all papers in your dossier are reviewed for completeness and all signatures are verified.

13.   MOI – Minister of Interior (3 weeks to 3 months)
During this process, ALL of your adoption paperwork will be reviewed, confirmed, evaluated and determined to be complete.  If items are missing or incorrect, your dossier will be sent back to the Minister of Justice for correction and sent back to MOI for verification. Once all your documents are complete, MOI will issue authorization for a passport to be printed.

14.    Passport (2 weeks to 2 months)
At this stage, your child will be issued a Haitian passport.

15.   USCIS (currently stated at 6 weeks processing time)
Once your passport is printed, the lawyer will submit your paperwork to USCIS for I600 approval.  You will be notified by email when you have been granted I600 approval. At that time your paperwork will be sent to the consulate at the US Embassy.

16.   VISA Appointment (1 day – 14 days from I600 approval notification)
The Embassy will determine whether a visa is ready to be issued for your child(ren).  You will be notified by email the date and time of your child’s visa appointment in Haiti.

17.   Visa Pick-Up 
48– 72 hours after your child’s visa appointment, the child’s visa will be ready for pick up at the US Embassy in Haiti.

18.   IBESR Travel Authorization (48-72 hours after visa printing)
You must obtain travel authorization from the IBESR after your child’s visa is printed in order to leave Haiti.  This will be applied for as soon as we receive notice of your child’s visa appointment so as soon as you have a visa, we can submit a copy to the IBESR and they will sign the travel authorization.

19.    Trip #2 (3-7 days in length)

This is the moment you are all waiting for and it does happen!  You will travel to pick up your child.  You have the option of attending your child’s visa appointment and stay in Haiti while the visa and travel authorization is issued or you can have the orphanage representative attend the visa appointment and you can travel to pick up your children at your convenience.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why Haiti?

When we decided to start the adoption process, we had no idea about the vast ocean of information and data and all sorts of options that are out there....foster, international, domestic, private, agency, foster-to-adopt, snowflake, open, closed, and on and on.  We had NO IDEA what we wanted to do, just that we wanted to do something.  Our first eye-opening moment came during an informational meeting with an adoption counselor who told us two things...1.  International adoption is not that much more expensive that fact, sometimes it's less expensive and 2.  The need for international adoption is also much greater.  Then she said, "For every 1 baby in the U.S. there are 40 families waiting.  For every 1 family waiting, there are 100 babies waiting to be adopted internationally (and that's just babies)."  We were shocked.  We know there are babies who need to be adopted from the U.S.  We know that our foster care system is sub par and that children in our own town need homes, but this statistic (and the fact that the costs wouldn't be much different) was too much to overlook.  The need internationally was greater and so once we decided to adopt internationally, the next step was choosing a country.  Easier said than done...there are almost 200 countries that citizens of the U.S. are allowed to adopt from.  200!  How do you choose one in 200?  We found an agency (through recommendations of friends and lots and lots of research) that has a pre-application.  Every country has their own adoption requirements...age of parents, how long they have been married, income, number of kids in the home, etc.  So we gave the agency all our info, they plugged it in to their fancy computers, and figured out we qualified best for Ethiopia and Haiti.  200 countries whittled down to two in a matter of days.  We chose Haiti because it was a tad bit less expensive than Ethiopia and the wait time for bringing home a child was shorter than Ethiopia.  [On a side note: Adoptions from Ethiopia have come to a stop.  Many families that have been trying to adopt from there are now switching to Haiti because Haiti is seeing movement].  So that's it.  Haiti it is.  Since choosing Haiti we have learned that it is now the poorest country in the world.  The 7.0 earthquake in 2010 destroyed the already fragile infrastructure of the entire country leaving hundreds of children separated from their families and hundreds more orphaned.  There is a need, and we want to help.  If you made it this far and are still struggling with the "why not adopt from the U.S.?," I found a really good response on a different blog about our foster care system which echoed some of the reasons we chose not to go that route this time.
 “One thing to consider, at least here in the US we have foster care. The government sets aside money for each child to have the basics, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, developmental services, therapy, etc. In Haiti, Africa, places in S. America, Asia, there is NOTHING!  You are a FORTUNATE orphan if you have access to the few poor overcrowded orphanages available. Even still you are probably malnourished. Those not in orphanages are often forced into child traffic, slave labor, criminal activity, abuse, begging, uneducated sick, and expose to the elements. Having been in foster care myself, it wasn't pleasant but my basic needs were met. I have lived in group homes here and they were nice. It wasn't perfect but I never went to bed hungry. There are well over 153,000,000 worldwide and as many as 163,000 right here in the good ole US of A in need of adoption, 500,000 here needing foster homes. If you are concerned with US orphans, I'd encourage you, to sign up today. There is also a special need for domestic adoption of black or biracial infants not in foster care. I hope that the many folks that so quickly ask the "why adopt from there when there are children here " are the same ones I see in my foster/adoption classes.  Have you ever tried to adopt from the foster care system? It is difficult, time consuming and a VERY intrusive process. I should read you some of the homestudy questions! You'd blush! There are SO MANY REQUIREMENTS. You may or may not meet the requirements based on your family size, home size, views on birth control, parenting style etc. You could have a child or children in your home for YEARS and never be able to adopt that child and call them your own. You may have a child or sibling set that you have tenderly loved and cared for and have to return them (yes even years later) to the SAME drug addicted people that abused or neglected that child in the first place! We are trying to adopt a sibling set from foster care and the hoops I have to jump through to do it make international adoption look oh so appealing. It works for many and I hope we are successful. I pray each US child finds a forever family, but I can easily see why others chose international.”   Read more:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Best of the Holidays

I'm working on an adoption post but wanted to get these up before too much more time passes....going all the way back to Thanksgiving folks!  We spent it in Salt Lake City, UT with Janet's family.  We hadn't seen Andy's grandpa since Joni was a baby so it was a much needed reunion!  Thanks to GGP (great-grandpa) for renting this house where we all ate and slept and hung out (but mostly ate).  
 One of the highlights (it was pretty high up there) was the bacon wrapped turkey.
And we celebrated Andy's cousin Elodie's birthday with a rainbow party...presents, games, crafts, and decorating rainbow cupcakes.  It was a hit :)
 Walk Through Bethlehem in December at our church this year brought over 1100 people.  Something we all look forward to every year.
The girls HAD to go play in our first snow (which didn't leave much).  When it was gone, Joni asked me when winter was going to be here.  I told her that technically winter is already here.  "No," she says, "when it snow winter going to be here?"  
 Our birthday cake for Jesus!
 It isn't December without Christmas dresses!
 or decorating Christmas cookies!
 Christmas day was spent at home (it was 50 degrees that day and so the girls got to try out their new bikes from Nana and Papa...and Uncle Ben got them cute little baskets and some wheel bling) and then with dear friends playing games.
 The top highlight of December...having my parents, sister, and nephew here (a new niece will join the family in March!).  We miss them all so much and so loved having them here.  We keep trying to convince them to move to Kansas but it hasn't worked yet.
 Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and that this new year has already been a blessing to you.  Love to you all!