Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Adoption Process

We have chosen to adopt a healthy boy or girl from Ethiopia between the ages of 0-12 months old.  This process will take us approximately 12-18 months from the time we turned in our application so we expect to bring our child home sometime between January and May of 2010.

One of the reasons we have set up this site, is to inform others of the adoption process.  This process tends to seem very mysterious and confusing which can be a big reason for families steering away from bringing their adoptive child into their world.  In this post, and others to come, we will attempt to explain our process in a way that is helpful and informative for others.  Of course, this is our process and for others it may look different but most of the steps are the same for all international adoptions.  Here goes...

Step 1:  The decision to adopt.  Once we decided to grow our family through adoption, our first step was to decide whether to adopt domestically or internationally.  We also needed to decide what age, gender and special needs our family would be open to pursuing.  

Step 2:  Choosing the Country.  As we chose to adopt internationally, our next step was to choose the country we would adopt from.  Every country has their own guidelines such as ages of parents, ages of siblings, income level, travel requirements, etc.  Picking the country that fits with your ability is important.  (We will have a post coming that describes our thought process on this and why we decided on Ethiopia)

Step 3:  Choosing the Agency.  We have already found that choosing the right agency is VERY important to the adoption process.  The Agency's knowledge regarding the country that you are adopting from and the US regulations on adoption is priceless.  We chose our agency based on a recommendation from someone we highly respected and was very knowledgeable concerning the adoption process.  So far, we are very impressed with our agency and their ability to communicate and be a resource for us.  

Step 4:  Starting the paperwork process:
Homestudy:  Our home-study began when we turned in a series of paperwork including autobiographies, financial information,  birth certificates, and family history.  We were then given a social worker that we will meet with six times.  She interviews us to find out more information about our family, parenting style, home environment, ect.  She writes a report on this information and submits it with our Dossier and USCIS paperwork.  
Dossier:  This is paperwork that you collect and submit to the country from which you are adopting.   This information is specific to the country and is similar to the information that you prepare for your homestudy.
USCIS paperwork:  These are the forms that you submit to US Immigration to obtain the legal permissions for international adoption and later to apply for citizenship for your adoptive child.

Step 5:  The first item above to be completed is the home-study as the final copy is required to be included with both the Dossier and the USCIS paperwork.  Once the home-study is completed, we can send our Dossier to our agency for review.  At the same time, our USCIS paperwork is sent to the US government and we wait for approval from them.

Step 6:  Approval of our Dossier from our agency.  Once our Dossier is approved by our agency, it will be sent to Ethiopia for approval.

Step 7:  We are put on a waiting list for a child.  Our agency will inform us that we are officially on the waiting list for a child.  This process can take between 3-6 months for a healthy infant from Ethiopia.  Our USCIS paperwork can still be in process at this time.

Step 8:  We are given a referral from our agency for a specific child.  At this time we will be given any medical information, family information and a picture of the child that has been referred to us.  We have the choice to accept or reject this referral but once we accept, the child is ours and is no longer adoptable in Ethiopia.

Step 9:  A representative of our agency goes to court for us in Ethiopia to obtain legal guardianship of the child on our behalf. This process takes between 3-6 months to finalize.  We also file another form with US immigration to obtain US citizenship for our child.

Step 10:  We travel to Ethiopia to pick up our child!!  We will get about two weeks notice before we travel.  This is a 5-7 day trip and will include visits to the orphanage and visits with any living family of the child.

Ok, so we know that is a lot in one post but hopefully this provides a clearer picture of what adoptive parents go through.  We will be posting more information regarding each of these steps as we go along.  If anyone has any questions or wants more information in the mean time, please let us know as we would love to share.


  1. Thanks for the info Pells! Hope your last homestudy goes well today! We're praying for you through this process!

  2. I love the step by step info. We sent our referral letter awhile back. Our prayers are constantly with you guys. We love you !