Q. What does it mean to have your first "visit" scheduled?
A. We will have 3 visits with our social worker. This first visit is very informal, she'll come over and see our house and talk to us about the rest of the process. We'll talk about what paperwork is still required of us (lots), what to expect in the next 2 visits, and things like that. She's already told us that before she comes for the 2nd visit that she likes us to have all the paperwork finished, so that could be several weeks. I believe by the 3rd visit we'll have to finish paying, but that shouldn't be an issue since it's almost tax refund time! The 2nd visit is when the social worker will sit down with Andrew and I together and separately to ask us a million personal questions. Not looking forward to that one, but I was referred to this particular social worker and heard that she's really nice, so hopefully it won't be too rough.
Q. How much longer is the adoption process going to take?
A. A long time. It really depends a lot on how fast we can get all the paperwork sent where it needs to be, all the documents in we need (birth certificates, etc), and of course how quickly we can come up with the money to move on to the next thing. Right now we have $900 left to pay to the home study agency.
Q. What happens after the home study?
A. Well, first the home study has to be approved, and then we have to complete a dossier, which is basically a bunch of paperwork that the Congolese government requires of families that want to adopt. After that we'll be put on the waitlist for a referral. How long we wait for a referral depends on how many other families are in "line" ahead of us- age/gender/etc. Eventually we'll be matched with a little girl that's in our requested age group, and if we accept the referral our case will be presented to a local court in Congo for their approval. Luckily, we don't have to be there in person (most countries require this now, which adds a lot to the cost). After the court approval we have to wait 30 days to make sure there isn't a blood relative or something of the child that wants to appeal the court's decision. After ALL that, we'll file a I600 (more paperwork), that takes a month or 2 to get approved. After the I600 is approved, the Embassy will process a visa and then we have to get a letter from the Congolese government that says the child is allowed to leave the country. As far as I know, that last step happens while we're there with our little one (Hannah... Natalie... we're undecided ;) ). Travel time is estimated to be 7-14 days.
Q. How much money do you still have left to raise?
A. Lots. We still have $900 to pay to the home study agency, and $14,700 to our adoption agency. And then we also have to pay all of our travel expenses which are expected to be about $3,000. So yeah... that's a lot of numbers. After we get through the home study process we can start applying for grants, etc. We'll keep you updated.
Q. Are the shirts here?
A. Not yet, but they're ordered! I ordered 100 shirts, so if you want one, I have one for you! I got lots of different sizes- everything from a kid's XS to an adult XXXL.
I hope that answers some questions people have had!
PLEASE let me know if you have any other questions. I know I still don't have all the answers, but I'm learning a lot as we go forward in this process. Our next "to do" is another big stack of paperwork (what else is knew?)