I thought it might be helpful to clarify what is expected to happen with our paperwork. I realize that some of you (though I have no clue who is actually reading this blog aside from a few friends who mention it), may be completely in the dark as I'm writing about what we are doing. So I'll try to be brief and to the point (as if that has EVER happened in my life):
1. Apply to agency. Get stacks of paperwork requirements.
2. Start collecting various paperwork for Ethiopia (called your dossier, say dah-see-ay). Certified birth certificates, marriage license, employment letters, proof of insurance, etc. Everything needs to be official and notarized.
3. Apply to INS (aka bcis) for approval to adopt an international orphan.
4. Begin homestudy. Our social worker will also require much paperwork, most of it the same as what is required in our dossier. The social worker's job is to make sure that we are decent parents and have a safe home. This requires (by our agency) four visits with her. Two of them must be in our home (so she can check it out) and with our children.
5. Get fingerprinted A LOT. State has to clear us, the FBI clears us, and INS...well, I don't know why they are fingerprinting us, I guess to clear us there too.
6. Social worker finishes our homestudy. We get approved by the state to adopt. She sends a copy to INS.
7. Hopefully, collect all of remaining paperwork required for our dossier. Wait on our INS approval (I-171).
8. We are required by our state to have county seals, verifying that the notary is really a notary in that county. So we will take our notarized forms to the county seat and get them done. Doing this now will give us time to work on any mess ups.
9. I-171H arrives, make a copy, notarize it, take it to the county seat. Take the ENTIRE dossier to the state capital to be state certified. There they get a pretty seal. Then we make 3 copies of everything.
10. Mail the paperwork to DC to get authenticated by the US government.
11. Paperwork is shipped to Ethiopia for translation. Everything is processed at the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs.
12. We wait. And wait some more. One day 4-6 months (who knows?) later we get a referral (pictures and information) for our children.
13. Make plans to travel 6-8 weeks after we accept the referral.
Right now we are inbetween 5 and 6. Still quite a way to go, but you can never tell how these things will happen.