This is the second post in a three part series. Missed the first? Check out The Best Laid {Adoption} Plans, Part 1.

Eleven days after our move in date, most of the boxes were unpacked. We are professionals in this aspect. We still had a lot of pictures to hang, things to rearrange, and projects in waiting, but as far as adoption was concerned, we were READY.

My first email to our adoption agency was on December 20, 2013. I didn’t hear anything back from them immediately. I attributed it to being so close to the holidays. It was quite possible that the person I needed to speak with simply wasn’t there. I emailed again after Christmas and heard nothing back. Again, I attributed it to the holidays, as we were then approaching New Year’s Eve. I told myself it was all in God’s perfect timing, and it wasn’t my place to rush it.  At the end of January, I finally did hear back from someone at the agency who was “working on it” and told me to sit tight until she could find out more about our situation. I waited another week, and by this point, I was beyond frustrated. Our adoption had been on hold since mid-October. We had completely busted it to get our house ready so quickly to get the process back on track. Technically, the move had now cost us three months, and we hadn’t even been contacted about updating paperwork and the home study. I sent an email to a person at our church (whom I’d never met!) who ran a support group for adoptive parents. Bless her, she listened to me complain and cry, and then she said something to the effect of, “This isn’t about God’s timing. You are paying them for a service that they are not providing. You have waited long enough, and you have every right to call every day, 10 times per day until you get an answer. Every time you call, call someone higher up in the chain of command.” I’m sure she doesn’t know just how much she empowered me that day. I started calling, and within a few days, I had an answer to our dilemma. There was no Hague-credentialed social worker with the agency to handle our case. No social worker=no home study update=no adoption. Their solution was to use another agency to complete the home study update and post placement visits, an agency of their choosing, and we would somehow work it out. Initially, I was uncomfortable with this proposed arrangement. It just didn’t feel right. I didn’t have a clear picture of who was representing us in the state of Ohio. How easy would it be for our case to slide to the back burner? The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the amount of money we’d have to pay the secondary agency to basically redo everything we had accomplished up to that point. Agency number one wouldn’t cover any of the costs for agency number two to redo the paperwork. Taking the money and time factors into consideration (and the questions about who would be our representative), we felt it was not in our best interest to continue with our first agency. You’ve probably noticed that I didn’t mention the name of our agency. Although I firmly believe that this could have been handled much better, I harbor no ill feelings toward the agency. I’m sure there are many, many families who have used them and have hit no snags in the process. I won’t purposely undermine their integrity. Our story took a different turn, but we were still headed toward the same goal. Sometimes God’s answer to a prayer is, “Not yet,” and as followers, we have to be willing to accept that.

I had a good, long, cleansing cry over the whole situation and moved forward. I spoke with an adoption agency recommended by a member of our church. They were truly sympathetic to our circumstance, and they assured me that we would move fast. Because we were hoping to adopt a boy, our wait with them would not be a long one. On February 14, 2014, I sent in our preliminary adoption application to our new adoption agency. Less than a week later, we had the go ahead to move forward. Already, I was seeing that this agency was moving faster than our previous one. I got all the new paperwork in hand and started the process all over again. The good news is that I already had most of the info right in front of me from our last agency. Focus on the positive, right? Two weeks after our approval, we were already in an all day adoption training session, and less than two weeks after that, we had our first home study visit. It took two and a half months to get to this point with our previous agency!

Although I was much more relaxed about the home study process this time, I still had a bit of Adoption Induced Insanity. Is it a real thing? I don’t know, but I associate it with the nesting process during pregnancy. The dining room had to be redecorated. Had to. It’s what my brain told me. No one would place a child in a home with depressing wallpaper in a barely used room. The unattractive dining room situation was promptly rectified. (Confession: the curtains I hung “just to test” are still hanging there unironed. Adoption agencies have no problem with wrinkled, out of the package curtains.)  We immediately “clicked” with our new social worker. She is also an adoptive mom, and she had kids in the same grades (and schools) as ours. It was a relief to know that I was working with someone who had actually been in the trenches of adoption. The four home study appointments went very well. We are rather boring people with no criminal histories, and we love each other and our kids dearly, so we just needed page after page after page of paperwork proving that. During that period of time, we had to get fingerprinted for FBI background checks again, take a CPR and first aid class, and get our home inspected by the fire department among other things. On Sunday, May 25, we received the first draft of our home study for our revision.

In early June, our home study was finalized and approved, so we began another round of paperwork which included a request for fingerprinting through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. This is a big step for adoptive families, because it basically begins the ticking of the adoption clock. Side note: all steps of adoption from China are fairly predictable, and if you’re on a Facebook group for China adoption, you will soon find yourself using all sorts of acronyms and tying them to numbers, and 100+ other people on the group will obsess about your numbers, their numbers, and average wait times. You will learn about every Chinese holiday and government shut down. You will ask, “When were you OOT??? We were LID on 9/10, and we were hoping for a short LOA! Do you think it’s possible to travel before CNY?” I won’t bore you with explanations here. Besides, it’s all part of the Adoption Induced Insanity. The only cure is to bring home your child, and many people still suffer relapses when they choose to adopt again.

On June 19, 2014, we began the preparation of our dossier (the collection of paperwork that is required by China). All the previous paperwork was just for our agency to write the home study. The dossier includes so many documents: birth certificates, marriage license, statement of employment, police clearance letters, a medical examination for each parent…a laundry list of other papers. All of these must be notarized, county certified and state certified. After all that hustle and bustle, the entire dossier goes for yet another authentication and then finally on to China. This is when China is finally like, “Oh, so you were serious about all this adoption business? Ok, cool. Thanks for all your hard work. I’m just gonna drop this on someone’s desk. She’s probably on vacation. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” Soooo, our dossier was sent to China on August 29. For twelve days, I checked email obsessively and hovered near the phone until I heard that our dossier was logged in. (Being “logged in” means that someone in China picked up our dossier and entered our information into a computer.) At that point, our agency could match us with a child. And with that, another season of our wait began.


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