Yesterday, we announced we were adopting again. Five weeks ago, the official decision was made. It was many weeks before that when Isabel’s little face first came into our view though. We have quite the process, as a family, that goes into deciding about adoption. There are 13 voices at our table. 13 equal voices that all have a say in decisions that so drastically impact our lives. The discussions at the table are ours, but there are many, many layers that go into these types of family decisions. Kids need time to process their feelings not only about another brother or sister, but sometimes these discussions bring up feelings about just how this process, the decision making, must have looked before they came home.
Nothing is rushed here. Nothing is forced. A voice of concern, or dissent, is honored. No judgment. No explanation required. I am proud of that.
Once everyone feels good about moving forward, we move at a rather breakneck pace. Colombia is a country that has signed the Hague Agreement on Intercountry Adoption. This means that there is a high level of oversight to the process, and a certain amount of standardization, but not everything is straightforward.
Isabel’s adoption file was with a different agency when we inquired about it. Adoption ethics are very important to us, as a family. While this agency seemed ethically sound, they weren’t originally excited about our family size, which is their right. We are proud of who we are though. If we apply to adopt and we get comments of concern automatically based on our family size and nothing more, without any questions asked of us, I tend to view it as a red flag. An agency should ask us many, many questions. We welcome them. If I have to talk a agency staffer into asking those questions though, then I’ll probably go with someone else. I don’t need to sell us as a family. After my pushing hard, the original agency was VERY excited about working with us. By then, we had found an agency who was comfortable with our application and who answered our 26 ethics questions, I’m not kidding about that number, with absolutely no concern for why we were asking those questions. They understood.
Joe is a certified Spanish language interpreter. The agency we’re working with had no problem with him communicating directly with their staff in Colombia if he felt the need. They also provided untranslated and unedited medical reports from Isabel’s file for his review. That made us feel very good about the medical and developmental information we received about her. They forwarded emails directly from the Colombian government to Joe regarding Isabel’s birth history and subsequent placement in foster care. This story is Isabel’s, and Isabel’s alone, but as adoptive parents, seeking an ethical adoption, we need to understand as much as we can.
It was not a straightforward process to have the new agency get Isabel’s file assigned to them. It is as much as it can be now, but our family won’t be officially matched with Isabel until all of our immigration clearances, home study and psychological evaluation are in Colombia. We have been invited to go ahead and submit all that. Getting all of that done will cost us approximately $10,00o. At any point, something could happen that could halt this process. We will have lost $10,000.
All we can do is try. So, here we go…
- On January 30th 2017, our President implemented a travel ban that scared every immigrant I know. Our family responded by standing around our dining room table and making a commitment to bring a child into this country and into this family. That day we emailed that document, our Letter of Intent, to our placing agency. They then submitted it to the Colombian government and we waited.
And waited. I’m not a good waiter. I checked in twice weekly with our placing agency.
- On February 15th 2017, we received word that the person in charge of reviewing this letter in Colombia was out of the office and the in country representatives of our agency couldn’t reach her. We had to make a hard decision. Do we move forward and risk some time and money and start our home study? We decided we would. So, I filled out the application with our home study agency. This is the agency that provides a social worker to our family who will come into our home, interview all of us, and make sure we are fit to adopt.
- On February 28th 2017, we received our home study welcome packet. It is 42 pages of documentation.
- On March 4th 2017, we received word that we were invited to submit our materials to Colombia for adoption. This means they looked over our application materials and feel we may be a suitable family. But, they will wait to see all of our documents to decide.
- On March 5th 2017, I paid the application fee to placing agency and received our Colombia Welcome Packet. It is another 69 pages of written material. I printed it all and built the same binder that I do every time we go through this process. It is a tabbed, sectioned binder that keeps all of the paperwork required of us in one place.
- On March 6th, 2017 we wrote to four friends that have known us a long time, told them we would be adopting again and asked them to spend their time and energy writing us yet another reference letter. I hate asking that of people over and over. But, it is what it is. We also had to ask a friend of the family who works as an Accountant to review our tax returns for the last few years and write a notarized statement that verifies that we are self-employed and confirms our income. Joe is an Accountant as well, so he files our persona tax returns. A copy of those isn’t good enough. Notarized verification is required.
- On March 7th, 2017, we mailed out a background request form for Joe to be background checked in the State of Minnesota. He lived there for 3 months during college, and has never lived there since. Nonetheless, because he once resided there, they have to submit a background check every time we go through this process. Can you imagine what this is like for families who have lived in multiple states?
- On March 8th, 2017, I had to use the wonders of social media to find a licensed psychologist who can evaluate Joe and I to make sure we are mentally stable enough to adopt from Colombia. Finding someone familiar with Colombia’s requirements for evaluation is paramount. This evaluation will cost us $500. Our insurance won’t cover it. If it’s written wrong it will cost us time and money. About an hour ago, an adoptive mom sent me the name of another adoptive mom who is a psychologist and has done these reports before.
Joe is on his way to my office now. We are headed out to be fingerprinted and background checked at a local level. This is the first of many FBI checks we will undergo.
–FullPlateMom, who is getting her head in the game.