January 30 2006
Hello. I am new. I have never blogged before, but I have been reading others and thought this was a good idea to keep family and friends informed about our adoption process. Also, it serves as a financial record and journal for us. This might also be of use to parents who are considering adopting from Russia- what to expect. We are a 30 something couple and are in the "waiting" phase of our adoption. This is our time-line and story so far:
January 2005- We began discussing our desire for another child to add to our family and the option of adopting an orphan. We felt we would be able to bless the life of a child that might otherwise grow up in an impoverished orphanage and at the same time have the little we had always longed for (although we love our three boys as well!). I was so excited to choose this pinkish, ish template for my blog (I know you are thinking... calm down) .
Anyway, even though my husband is still only a medical resident in the military (Radiology) and I am a stay-at-home Mom and student (Information systems) we felt like this was the best time to go forward to complete our family because our future is uncertain as far as location, time line and possible deployment (due to being in the military). We know that we will end our tour (and my husbands residency) in Maryland, July 2007, and be sent to another state or country. We currently have three boys ages 12, 11 and 6. After some research we decided upon the Russian adoption program.
February 2005- It was at this point that we begin researching various adoption agencies and homestudy agencies. We spent a great deal of time this month e-mailing and calling agencies with all of our questions. After a great deal of prayer and pondering we chose the agency that we felt would be able to assist us in bringing home the child that was meant to be in our family. It was also at this time that we became members of FRUA (Families For Russian and Ukrainian Adoption -$20 I think). They have a website and have a local support group in our area. They recommended purchasing the book: The Russian Adoption Handbook by John H. Maclean for US $32.95, which we did buy to guide us through the adoption process. We also went to some of their events to get more information from those who had gone through the adoption process. It was after questioning various agencies and talking to those who had gone through the experience that we learned that our home would have to meet certain standards in order for it to pass the homestudy (which is the first step towards adoption) and also the Russian dossier which requires photos of our home, yard and each room (labeled), and each family member. We also learned that we needed to allow as much time as possible (minimum 2 years) to allow the adoption to go through while we remained at a residence in a certain state and home- because we would have to redo most of our paperwork and lose months of time if we moved states and/or addresses in the middle of the adoption process.
It was then that we realized we would need to move first. We were told that Maryland required an adopted in a household of brothers to have her own (sizable) room; unfortunately we didn’t have any extra room for her. We would also need to prove that our home itself had adequate space/ yard for another child through home visits and photos- according to their criteria, not ours. Because we lived in a small town house - the option of adding onto our home wasn’t possible. We had a family of five in a small 3 bedroom- and although we thought we could just put the adopted child in the same room as us- this wasn’t acceptable. We had a lot of friends try to talk us out of it, “You guys are really going to move in order to adopt? Moving is so horrible! It’s not worth it! Don’t do it,” friends would say. But we felt differently. After all, we are in the military so we were used to moving- if you ever can get used to it!
It was in February that our homestudy agency mailed us all of the initial paperwork for the homestudy. The instructions stated that the entire application must be completed/ along with all of the medical forms and home inspections before turning in the application with the associated fees.
March and April 2005: We knew that we would be transferred from Maryland in 2007, so time was ticking away and we knew we had to sell our home quickly, but it took awhile to get it ready to put up for sale. We spent most of March and April getting our house ready. We put it up for sale in Mid-April. We under priced it compared to the market, (so we could sell it quickly) and found a buyer in two days with a sale date of May 30. We couldn’t afford to purchase another home that was larger and had an additional bedroom and keep our kids in the same schools - so we opted for renting. We researched the rental market and found a 4 bedroom home in our price range near our current home. (We are not as poor as we sound- we live in one of the top 10 most expensive zipcodes in the nation- sorry... I had to throw that in because I know there may be some of you thinking that we shouldn't be adopting if we already have three kids and can't afford to buy a 4 bedroom home).
May 2005 Going on faith that the sale of our home would go through we started on the adoption paperwork. We couldn’t begin any sooner because the address had to be consistent from start to finish. The minute we knew where we were moving to (which was near the end of April) we began completing the homestudy application with our new address on everything. The homestudy application is very involved. The first thing that I did was order birth, marriage and divorce certificates through VitalCheck . I paid $176.00 total to Utah, $42.00 to Illinois and $44.00 to Colorado for express mailed certificates because I wanted to make sure that they came to me before we moved. I requested three letters of recommendation from friends, family and our son’s school teachers. I then submitted the $525 for the 1-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition to the Immigration and Naturalization Services or the BCIS with our new address, copy of birth, marriage and divorce certificates. This is the most important step towards adoption wherein we officially registered for the Russian program. We also sent a check for $140 for BCIS fingerprinting along with the petition (actual fingerprinting was done at a later time). The homestudy application itself was 16 pages long of personal information. I requested the driving record (MVA) for my husband and me at $12 each. Next, we had orders put in for lab tests (HIV and TB) to be done on our family members, which is also a requirement. We all went in to get tested for these things at the medical lab. Later in the month, we all went in for medical examinations and to get the results of the tests. The doctors filled out special medical adoption forms for each member of our family. We then needed two home inspections wherein I met a fire Marshall at our new home (while it was still empty) and also paid for a Montgomery County Code inspector ($60 fee) to inspect the home. The inspectors required us to fix a broken window ($200- the landlady did not pay for this- we did) and to purchase a specific type of fire extinguisher. We also went to the police station and were fingerprinted for a small fee ($40 total fee). Then we sent our fingerprint cards along with two checks for $42.00 each to C.J.I.S. in Pikesville MD for state and FBI fingerprint clearance. We had several required papers signed and notarized and my husband had a letter generated from his employer stating his standing in the military and annual income, etc. Our home was sold on May 30, 2005.
June 2005 At the beginning of June we were almost finished with the homestudy application paperwork except the sanitation inspector still had to come and check if the window was fixed, and to do the final inspection. As soon as the sanitation inspection was done in mid-June we took the completed application to our homestudy agency and submitted all of our paperwork and paid the fee of $1, 200. Shortly after that we applied to the adoption agency on July 11 and submitted the application fee of $1,500. At that time our agency sent us a list of paper work needed for the Russian dossier.
July 2005 We were told by our agency to hold off collecting our dossier until the homestudy was almost finished- because forms are time sensitive and do expire. We had our homestudy social worker visits. Our homestudy social worker approved us and sent in the homestudy to our adoption agency.
August and September 2005 We had doctor appointments that generated letters and forms which are a large portion of the dossier. We collected and completed the rest of the paperwork for our dossier. Fortunately our medical stuff is all free through the military.
October 2005 We thought we were finished. We took our dossier paperwork to be certified . The certification people noticed that our notary's stamp didn't match his paperwork. We had to reorder him a new stamp (cost $26.24- justified because he had notarized our documents for free). This put us back a month as we waited for the stamp to come in.
November 2005 We then had the paperwork certified (about $70) and went to Annapolis to get everything appostilled (about $150). The worst part yet- was photocopying everything. Each paper, certification and appostille was to be photocopied. We were at Staples for hours (cost $41). Mailed in dossier and the photocopies ($27 USPS) to adoption agency with $500 dossier fee.
December 2005 Received letter on December 24 stating that our dossier had been accepted! Yea! We were officially on the waiting list. However, along with that information was a notice that because our agency had lost its accreditation they did not expect any refferals until that changed.
January 2006 Continuing to wait. We are waiting for reaccreditation. I search the internet for news daily.
When we are finally assigned and accept a child we will pay our agency $18,500. We will then be required to travel to Russia two times to meet the child and do the adoption there. At that time we will be responsible for paying $380 for a US Immigrant Visa, $150-$300 for the child’s in-country medical examination, $700-$1,300 for round-trip airfare to Russia, $300-$1,500 for hotel accommodations and $100-$450 for a Russian VISA application per person. These are the expected upcoming fees.
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