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Choosing A Placement Agency

Trying to decide which placement agency to use during your adoption journey? This blog entry will help you in that decision.

Choosing A Placement Agency

International or Domestic Adoption

International vs Domestic Adoption? Why we decided to adopt internationally.

International or Domestic Adoption

Our Trip To Ethiopia

A recap of our trip to Ethiopia. A firsthand account of a trip that would touch so many lives.

Our Trip To Ethiopia

Pathway To Citizenship

Adoption from Ethiopia was only the first step for many families. Re-adopiton and citizenship are a next step. Your pathway to both.

Pathway To Citizenship

MERKATO

:::MERKATO::: A new documentary by Sosena Solomon about the largest and oldest open air market in Ethiopia. Join Coily Embrace as a sponsor of this film.

MERKATO

Packing To Go To Ethiopia

What should you pack to take with you on your trip to Ethiopia? We have a list for you that includes supplies, medicines and other must have items.

Packing To Go To Ethiopia

Choosing Homestudy Agency

Not sure what to consider when choosing a Homestudy Agency? Here are some things to consider when you make your decision.

Choosing Homestudy Agency

The USCIS FBI fingerprinting appointment came - 3/4



That was way fast. The homestudy was mailed just yesterday. Maybe she mailed it Thursday...and they received it yesterday, and mailed out the appointment yesterday...that we received today??

Nonetheless....
...YAY!!

Our appointment is the week of 3/11.




Papers review 3/4



today I sent copies of everything (notarized dossier documents) to the placement agency for review (before going to Sacramento for authentication). I made additional copies for us to have.

the homestudy was mailed yesterday to USCIS (we were told by the HS agency). And our notarized copy is to be mailed in the morning. Hopefully we'll get it by Thursday 3/6 so Hubby can take it to Sacramento Friday (along with our other dossier documents that will hopefully be done with their placement agency review by then too).




2/29 - The STATE Police Clearance letter via CA Dept of Justice


The letter arrived today!!

So, our dossier is complete!! We just need to actually have (in hand) our homestudy report, and homestudy agency license (notarized) to take with us to Sacramento...maybe this week!!

Obtaining this letter wasn't clear or intuitive at all...
...here are the steps.

Refer to this website - Office of the Attorney General DOJ.

Take note of the far right hand column about half-way down - the information about "Visa/Immigration and Foreign Adoptions".

Download this form, as instructed.

Fill it out using this guideline. - note, check the 'visa/immigration' box; write "Foreign Adoption" on the line.

Find a Livescan facility to get your fingerprints done (this is a separate livescan from the one you do for your homestudy agency; and they cannot 'save' fingerprints on the computer, so you have to do it twice, and pay twice). Be sure to get a copy of the form - especially making sure the numbers on the bottom of the form (ATI number, agency and terminal numbers) are clear...you may need them to check on your results via the automated system.

You'll likely want to check the status of the fingerprints if you haven't received them after a week: 24-hour Automated Telephone Service Available: 916-227-4557. If a requesting agency does not have results yet and digital Live Scan fingerprints were submitted, you can use the automated telephone system to check on your submission. You will need the following information: (1) your date of birth; and (2) the 10-digit Automated Transaction Identifier (ATI) number that appears at the bottom of the Department of Justice form requesting Live Scan fingerprint background checks. The ATI number always appears in the following sequence: 1 LETTER; 3 NUMBERS; 3 LETTERS and 3 NUMBERS. - from the DOJ website.

They will mail you a printout to your home - no criminal record may take 1 day. Yes criminal record? Took 35 days for us.

The printouts arrived looking very unofficial (just a printout); like something I could do on my home computer. Didn't seem "right" or "official." So....

I called DOJ. Of course I got the run around as most of the automated pre-recorded messages (you'll encounter on their website) are not very helpful - so I left a message (on two of the voicemails). I spoke with a few people (at this point in the process) who tried to tell me I'd need another livescan...my agency needs to provide me with a certain requisition paper, etc. (I think they were confused with livescan #1...nonetheless, they didn't know what they were talking about).

But there is one person who was tremendously helpful: (916) 227-3807, her name is Lena. Her voice mail instructs you to leave a message and she'll return the call within 2 business days. Actually, everyone returned our call that same day, or the next day...so go ahead and leave a message.

She understood what we had, and what we were missing (i.e. we "had the printout, we were only missing the 'letter'). She said she'd mail us a letter, on letterhead with a seal. Two days later, a letter arrived - on letterhead with a Seal impression and signature. Attached to the letter was a printout (the same printout they initially mailed to us sans the letter). So, again, after getting the print-out, we had to call Lena and have her subsequently mail us the 'letter.' Maybe the letter should have come initially with the printout?? but it didn't.

Letter done and in hand - looks very official in comparison. Take to Sacramento to the Secretary of State Office for authentication:

How do I get my response notarized as required by the foreign government from where I am attempting to adopt a child? The Department of Justice does not provide notarized responses, however, your response may be submitted to the California Secretary of State Office for an Apostille Certification.

Per the Secretary of State website:
Documents can be hand delivered to any office location for over-the-counter processing between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) or mailed to the Sacramento office. Regional offices do not process mailed in documents. Office locations are as follows:

Sacramento Office (for hand delivery)
Notary Public Section

1500 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-3595

Regional Offices (see
website for addresses)
Fresno
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco

When submitting documents to any of our offices for over-the-counter processing, no appointment is necessary. Customers are served on a “first come first serve” basis.
Documents submitted for over-the-counter processing are normally processed within an hour. The average processing time for documents submitted by mail is approximately two weeks.
There is a $20.00 processing fee (per signature authenticated) and a $6.00 special handling fee (per public official for documents submitted over the counter).

Payments over-the-counter in Sacramento can be made by check, money order, cash, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard).






3/3 - Homestudy mailed to USCIS San Francisco Office


2/28/08

Yay!!

I went down to our HS agency to drop off the police incident report letter (just in case USCIS requests it - eventhough the certifed court papers we provided indicate that all charges were dropped), and while there explained to them that the Placement Agency guy was in Ethiopia....and will be back next week.

So she said..."you know, I'll just go ahead and mail the homestudy to the USCIS so you can get your fingerprinting appointment..." she went on to say that she'll just provide us two notarized copies of both the agency license and the homestudy report...so we can continue preparing our dossier. If the Placement agency requires more copies, she'll just provide them at that time.

So, forward progress continues....



Update: 3/3/08
Homestudy was actually mailed to USCIS on 3/3/08 per HS agency.




The reason for the delay with the placement agency's response.



I just received a response from a fellow prospective adoptive parent on the group forum. Apparently the director of the Placement agency, Radu, is in Ethiopia now. So, communication is likely delayed for that reason. It's nice to know that he actually goes over there...and really is involved in making things go smoothly (and sometimes your presence is just absolutely necessary to making this happen).

But, with the lack of communication - I was starting to worry....
...and now I won't as much (for now).

Even still, business must continue...so I hope he's back in the mix soon.



2/27 - Waiting for the Placement Agency to review the Homestudy



So, the homestudy was sent to the placement agency on 2/25. The HS agency is closed on Fridays, so business wasn't conducted from 2/22-2/24 (friday to sunday). I expected that the placement agency would have the info on Monday the 25th, review it, and be done with it by Wednesday 2/27 (today). I emailed Radu (informing him of the completed homestudy, etc) on Friday 2/22 - and I'm still waiting for a reply.

I'm hoping that he'll reappear, review the homestudy, and let our HS agency know it's okay...so they can mail it tomorrow. But, they have to notarize everything...and the don't work on Friday. So, maybe Monday.

I'm a bit frustrated that it's taking so long for the placement agency to at least respond...

As for the dossier - pretty much everything is done. Just waiting for the elusive state police clearance letters (oh yeah, the local police letter is not sufficient we were told).




Homestudy Complete!! 2/21



Our homestudy is all done!! All documents are in, the report written...and ready for review by our placement agency (to make sure the wording and such are consistent with the requirements of the Ethiopian Government). We've already reviewed it...and we sound like wonderful parents!! :o)
***

After the reviewing by the placement agency of our homestudy report...the homestudy agency will notarize everything and send it to the USCIS, afterwhich we can obtain an appointment for our FBI fingerprinting...
...hopefully our homestudy will be in the USCIS office next week


Also, we got the police explanation letter for the civil disobedience issue.

Next?...acquisition of the state police clearance letters for the dossier, and one more notarization of a letter of reference (for the dossier).
-Those items will actually complete our dossier!! (of course, along with the I-171H).




Explanation letter and certified court letter done. - 2/20



Hubby completed his 'explanation letter' for his arrest for the civil disobedience.
Got the certified court letter for hubby's incident indicating all charges were dropped.
Sent via fedex to home study agency.

(He also went to the police station and requested the records/certified. They said "they do that sort of thing on Fridays. So, hopefully Friday afternoon we'll have the docs. They also said it may take up to 10 days.)

So....waiting for completion of the homestudy report. Apparently all these things must be a-okay because the USCIS will look for these 'explanations' when the FBI fingerprinting *they* do reveals the arrest. I hope nothing (mistakenly/unexpectedly) comes up on either of us.

I'm thinking that the various reviews (by the homestudy agency director, by us, by our placement agency, etc) can no proceed now, even as we wait until 'friday' for the final police letter.

Found out about the passport photos....
...placement agency said they just want the little pictures in their Kinko's envelope, not notarized, to be sent with the rest of the dossier.




Travel vs. Escort


We're actually starting to really reconsider our initial thoughts of escort and rather go for the travel!!

How wonderful would a visit to Africa be? I tried to talk my mom into going with us...afterall we do have 2 kids that we just cannot leave behind, and her presence would be greatly appreciated. Afterall, a large part of this entire process involves educating ourselves and our children and our family about a different place.

I think my mom is actually excited. And she is not easily impressed!!

If we plan to travel...we have to prepare. There are various health issues to consider, making vaccinations, medications, and travel insurance a priority.

Today I contacted the kids pediatrician (she spent over 20 years at Children's Hospital before going to Kaiser, so I'm hoping she ends up being a valuable resource to us). Based on the CDC website (and other websites) the kids will need:

Meningiococcal
Hepatitis A
Typhoid
Yellow Fever

in addition to the above, I will need a
Polio Booster
titers drawn to check my immunity to MMR

in addition to both aboves, Hubby will need
tetanus, diptheria booster
Hepatitis B series

Thankfully, Addis Ababa is at an altitude where Malaria isn't a risk.

Things to watch and consider: health issues, safety (i.e. any American travel warnings), timing, cost...and of course overall planning the trip (flights, hotels, layovers, etc).

Something else to add to the mix...




(2/16) Passport photos. Bank letter. Employment letter. Fingerprint results. Next - Police letter? Dealing with fingerprinting results.



I love lists. Sometimes, after I complete a task I'll actually *write* it onto a list....just so I can cross it off said list!! Very gratifying for me to see a bunch of 'thing to do' crossed off a list...

Three more things crossed off....the bank letter (WaMu was great about this) with a nice post-15th payday balance. Called ahead of time, explained what I needed...and they said "sure."

Let me add, however, I had to call a couple of WaMu's before I got this response. So...of course, I simply went to the branch that was willing to give me what I needed. They typed the letter, printed it on letterhead...gave cumulative bank balances. Signed and notarized it there for free!! The first WaMu branch I called, downtown no less, would do the letter...but wouldn't notarize. The dude on the phone said "uhhhhh....we can't notarize letters in California..."

I informed him that between my husband and I....we must have at least 10 notarized *letters* in our possession....in California!! He didn't understand, and started making up his own 'notary rules' for the State....so I called another branch.

And passport photos are done. We have passports...but they asked for 'passport photos', not copies of our passports (which actually/technically have passport photos on them). Anyway, I'll check and see if everything is up to par before we're ready for authentication.

And hubby (finally) got the letter of employment notarized - had to bring a mobile notary into the office day before yesterday.

All that's left is....
The notarization of both the 'true-copy' form for our passport photos (I wonder if all the photos can be color-copied onto a single paper....like our family photos were?)

The notarization of our reference letters (which should be easy, as our friends are super enthusiastic for us...and "don't wanna be the cause of any delay." We have wonderful friends.

The police letter...it has been very difficult to obtain this as it is not clear what we need, exactly, nor who provides it to us (Highway patrol vs. Department of Justice), or how we actually gain possession of such a document. I'm thinking that just going down to our local police department, having them write a letter...bringing a mobile notary with us to notarize, will be sufficient. I've spoken to our local station, and they do such things "all the time." I'll let you know.

Oh, and it turns out hubby had his fingerprints run previously for civil disobedience...and now has to write a letter explaining what happened, and how it was resolved. Additionally, he has to go by the court house (and police station) and get a certified letter/record explaining the same. Hopefully this will be done over the weekend, and the court letter obtained sometime next week. When this is done, our homestudy agency will be able to complete our report. Again, hopefully this will be next week. And (the worrier in me) hopes that this will be easy, and won't prohibit us from progressing.

I'm hoping to have reviewed the homestudy report, have the placement agency have reviewed the report...and everything good to go to USCIS (next week would be nice, but dealing with the courts, and with all the 'reviewing' and possibly editing) the week after next.

Note: next time, we would have obtained a copy of the court record when we first started - just in case. If the incident is very minor, and even if you don't think you have to report it (i.e. charges were dropped, never charged with anything, speeding ticket...whatever), know that anytime your were fingerprinted for anything, it'll probably come up. Most people aren't fingerprinted for building code violations or traffic violations...so these minor things won't likely come up ('cause you weren't fingerprinted).

In short, next time we would get court records and write the letter preemptively- simply because fingerprinting took place at the time of the incident. We could have had this step done instead of waiting for the fingerprinting results (that were delayed).



Fingerprints for HS agency...delay (2/12)



So now I guess it's the "wait part" of 'hurry up and wait'. I'm still totally psyched that the homestudy is all done...and that we passed. But there is a delay now in the processing of my husbands fingerprints.

After the fingerprints are done...the homestudy can *officially* be completed. Then we get to mail that homestudy to the USCIS...and obtain another set of fingerprints (which may or maynot have a quick turn-round time). After everything is approved...then we're hoping to get our 171-H form.

Nothing else I do to prepare our dossier is time sensitive since the actual rate limiting steps are obtaining the fingerprints (at this point).

Soo....we wait.

In the meantime, I'll go to the bank to get a letter this friday (after payday)...and I think we should make it a point to get our passport pix taken (and the little guy a passport).

I hope William will get the letters of rec signed/notarized by our friends....and the notarized employment letter from his HR. And, it would be nice if his fingerprint issue was resolved quickly.




Continue the Dossier Paperchase 2/5



While we await the *official* results of our homestudy (complete with fingerprint clearance, editing by us, the placement agency, and the homestudy agency itself); we continue gathering documents (and getting them notarized) for the dossier.



Second homestudy visit - 2/1



Haley and Ian are bathed and dressed up nice...afterall, this visit is to see them.

The lawn is done, and the dogs are...well they have fresh water.

The social worker comes over. She's more like a friend now...being that she knows our entire life and all. We sit...and chat. It's fun, and funny. The kids are in and out of the room. She talks to them, briefly. Nothing about adoption, disipline, or anything "heavy" is discussed with them. This was a huge souce of stress for me....'cause I know some pediatricians are of the mindset that it's okay to deposition kids about the ongoings of the parents behavior/habits with no reason to do so. "Does you mom have any boyfriends? Does your dad often work late? Do they argue, and what about?" Maybe these questions are okay if a reason exists to delve into the inner-workings of a family (such as child placement in adoption), but on a routine pedi visit...I don't think it's appropriate. Anyway, she didn't weigh the kids down with difficult questions, and suggest we're bad parents or that our family is being scrutinized and is somehow not measuring up. That was appreciated.

She watched them play. She watched them jump around. She went into their playroom and engaged Haley in random smalltalk.

Then she interviewed each of us alone. She asked more detailed questions and clarifications about our background, religion, families, etc.

Total visit was probably over 2 hours....but it was fun.

I jokingly asked if we'd passed. She said "with flying colors."

Yay us.

Now we can relax. All of my "what-if" scenarios involved opening our home, our lives, to a stranger for critique. And now, that was over...and we passed!!

Now we wait for the report.



Homestudy Paperchase (1/24-1/31)



The 2nd homestudy visit is the final visit, and at that time all papers must be completed and given to the social worker. So we had a week and days to gather all the requisite information.

There is a list of over 20 forms/documents/tasks to complete. Most just require digging thru your documents you have in your possession at home. Birth certificates, passport copies, grant deed to home, 1040 tax forms, marriage certificates, etc. There was a form for Haley's school teacher to fill out. We had to get physical exams, and have our physician complete the forms. We had to get our employers to do letters. And letters of recommendation from friends should be done.

Concurrently we're gathering (many of the same documents, except instead of being mere copies, certified originals/copies are required) for the dossier. Everything notarized. Letters to the government of Ethiopia, letter to the orphanage. Family photos. We got fingerprinted (again) so we can receive a printout letter ourselves...to have authenticated (vs. apostilled which depends on the country you're adopting from) as per dossier requirement.

We gather everything. We get our fingerprints done. We clean our house again. We are super nice to Haley...shower her with treats and everything...so she'll brag to the social worker about her wonderful parents (just kidding...kinda). We try to prepare her to speak well, and accurately. We're nervous.



The first homestudy visit - 1/23



The house was sparkling like new. We joked that we could be on HGTV...like design to sell. Everything was perfect. Almost unnatural, I thought. But whatever.

She arrived and we chatted a bit - small talk. We discovered that she had a child. This is a relief, because as all parents know, it's frustrating to argue/discuss parenting issues based on philosophy with someone who has no first-hand experience raising kids.

She spoke to both of us for about 90 minutes...together. She walked thru our house. We had to point out the spot we planned to use for baby. We explained to her that our plans were flexible, depending on the age of the child, and the desires of our own children with regard to sharing a room, etc. She seemed okay with that. She liked the kids (newly decorated) room. She even looked outside at our doggies (who had fresh water and a clean/poop-free yard, thank you).

Then it was over.

She wanted to return to interview each of us separately...and she needed to spend time with our children.

She agreed to return in a week and days, Saturday morning 2/2.



Livescan #2 - needed for the criminal clearance letter for the dossier



Before the homestudy time, we ran over to the livescan place and had our fingerprints recorded. For those of you going thru this:

for VISA/IMMIGRATION
Record Review
Mailed to your home

Turn around time for me was 1 day. Seriously, like the next day I had a clearance in the mail. Hubby's took longer.


Of NOTE:

Lesson: be sure to have the results of the livescan fingerprinting sent to your home. To do this you have to go online and download (on a PDF file) the form.

You will have questions, so check out the Office of the Attorney General's website; notice the right hand column, the information is pertinent to this process. In that column you'll notice a FAQ regarding obtaining a 'police clearance letter' (well, it actually says requesting visa/immigration clearance letter).

The part that seems most applicable to us is:

How do I get my response notarized as required by the foreign government from where I am attempting to adopt a child?
The Department of Justice does not provide notarized responses, however, your response may be submitted to the California Secretary of State Office for an Apostille Certification.




Preparing for our 1st home visit 1/18 - 1/23



Now it's on. Money has been paid....contracts exchanged. For the next week and days, we cleaned up our home. We purchased some new items of furniture. We washed our rugs and upholstery. We bought new rugs and pillows for the bedrooms. We even took our dogs to the groomer (afterall, what if she thinks to herself "wow, they can't even take care of their pets, much less another child!"). We tended to the yard (in the rain), and hauled some junk away. We washed the clothes, organized the house, and did a through cleaning in general. We were plenty busy for that week and days preparing to showcase our lives to a stranger.




Livescan #1 - 1/17



We went and got our fingerprints taken for our Homestudy Agency today. Very quick. My guess is that this fingerprinting includes child abuse registry index check. The results go to the adoption agency only.

Since we need a copy (to authenticate and include with the dossier), but didn't know this until the following day, we have to go back and get fingerprinted again. This is scheduled for 1/23.




I600A form - mailed 1/17



So, we had to intiate this process per our (brand new) adoption agency.

This form is the intial petition to bring an international orphan into the United States. With it you have to submit a form, money (of course), and supporting documentation. Our office required copies of our birth certificates, passports, proof of health insurance coverage for the adopted child, marriage certificate. Took a couple of days getting this info together. William had to travel to LA, so he picked up a few "extra" birth/marriage certificates for everyone (for >$200).

The USCIS asked for a cashier's check addressed to Department of Homeland Security...I sent a regular check (and fretted for days). But it was okay - they cashed it after a week.

We got verification that they received the info (about 1/23) and money, but would be waiting until a completed homestudy report was submitted before giving us a federal fingerprinting appointment.




Choosing a Placement Agency 1/13 - 1/17



This is a very difficult thing to do. But had to be done before I could mail the I600A - and should be done ASAP so I could collect appropriate documentation for the dossier as I collected my homestudy documents. Each placement agency requires a little something different.

I joined a couple/few groups, read a few blogs, and did lots of internet research. Joining the groups were a bit overwhelming at first because so much that's discussed is not applicable to you. Also, your hear stories of adoption (and international adoption) gone wrong...with unscrupulous agencies, and unstable programs. Almost paralyzing. How do I find a *licenced* agency, who is also *licenced* in Ethiopia? What are the pros-cons and considerations?

Well, I found a fairly reliable site with a group of agencies said to be legit and licenced in Ethiopia. The list was very reproducible, and member of the message boards were familiar with most. I wrote/called the final two, spoke with the program directors...and contacted references.

The Process of Choosing:
Well, first I wanted to make sure the Agency was licensed in Ethiopia. Some Agencies contract out their "Ethiopian Program" to one of the licensed agencies...and I wanted to be with a primary agency. At the time I sought information there were 15 agencies commonly known to be legit in Ethiopia.

We wanted the option of choosing gender - that eliminated Wide Horizons.

We wanted the option of escorting home - that eliminated many of the religious Christian ones, and Gladney.

We heard bad things about the operation of Christian World Adoption - so they were eliminated.

We want customer service and hand-holding - and heard the AFAA is not good in this area, so we eliminated them. For thousands of dollars, I want my hand held nice and tight. Besides, the wait was too long.

Some agencies have very long wait times - so we actually eliminated them. 18-24 months is too long. If the waits are long, lots of the paperwork (therefore time and money) is wasted.

In the end, there were a few left:

Better Futures Adoption Services - a brand new agency with only 4 kids home so far. But, very quick referral times, and the director is Ethiopian with strong relationships both here and there. She had good references, but they admitted to some snags secondary to the novelty of the organization. She was very hand-holding. Ultimately we decided against them because Ethiopia is the only country they represent, and if the situation change and we have to switch countries, we'd just be SOL with this agency. Also, when I did contact the agency, much of what they do is "form letter" format. I hate form letters. I asked 2-3 specific questions, and I get a 'form letter' informing of everything but the answers to my specific questions. When I called another agency for clarification...things were much clearer. So I went with them.

Adoption Advocates International - seemed okay, but the wait was much longer. They offered escort, got good reviews, love their website...and price is reasonable. More than one program, and established, licensed, with many happy clients. Again, the wait times (plus anticipated snags) could make it a 2 year process. Versus other agencies who've gotten kids home in 6 months. If all else is equal, I'd prefer *not* to wait 2 years.

Adoption Avenues and Dove
-both on the West Coast, which is a plus. Wait times are short, and escort is an option. You can pick the age/gender, and good customer service. The orphanage they use is in Addis Ababa (the major city), and the kids are well cared for. The price is reasonable.

In the end, Adoption Avenues' director is a physician...and he went out of his way to explain the process, answer questions and emails, and he had a great reputation on the message boards. He understood my situation as a physician (the debt, the financial situation in general). He's knowledgeable, and so far, I've appreciated his no-nonsense, 'just get your kid home safely' attitude. A local family who just completed the process and is home with their daughter had good and bad things to say about both agencies (since they work out of the same orphanage, many of the affiliated American families meet and share experiences). The bad things she said about AA seems to be related to logistics of the Ethiopian visit (the guest house...the guide...). But nothing unethical surfaced...or egregious activity that would black-list them in their minds.

Dove stated a slightly longer wait time...but overall was in our top 3. They were a bit sluggish getting information to us...and by the time we received it, we'd already made a decision - and sent our I600A. And, as stated above, there were some concerns expressed over the efficiency of the agency with regard to the United States paperwork portion of the process (eventhough the Ethiopian travel aspect was awesome).

Even still, we went back and forth (between our top 3-4), but the accessibility we felt with Radu at Adoption Avenues, and the physician thing, the West Coast thing, his ability to expedite the process on the front end, and the references we spoke with...

....helped push us towards Adoption Avenues.




Update: I've recently heard some "less than stellar" (understatement, bigtime) things about Dove...which makes me happy we didn't choose them.

Many of the references we spoke with regarding Adoption Avenues are home with their children...and their children are healthy and well-adjusted. Although maybe not perfect, I do hope that our agency likewise allows us to graduate to 'international adoptive parent' of a healthy, well-adjusted, Ethiopian baby girl.

Note: I would have joined the yahoo group adoption agency research (earlier) so I would have access to more information regarding choosing an agency.

Also, it would have been way less stressful to know that I didn't have to choose a Placement Agency at the time I sent the I600A form. I would have taken a bit more time, I think, to choose an agency (or maybe I wouldn't have, I don't know).

Finally, the book I recommended would have been awesome to have at this stage in the game.




Joined Internet Group Sites 1/14



I decided to join a couple/few internet groups....
...to help with decision making (i.e. choosing an agency)

Also, it'd would be nice to hear other stories, get tips and gather pearls. In just a couple of days I've learned so much. Information overload is anxiety provoking, and with so much information (and so many members), I had to condense it to daily "digests".

I've found a few excellent blogs. I'll post them on mine.



Note: I would have joined these adoption groups much sooner had I known they'd be so useful.





The Social Worker calls us - 1/13



On day 3, Sunday January 13th, our social worker called us. We had to complete our autobiographies prior to our first meeting with her. Our autobiographies were completed and sent to her on late monday night. Our first meeting with her was scheduled for Jan 23rd (a week and days later).




Homestudy Agency - Retainer Received 1/10



The retainer/contract was received by them on January 10th and an email was sent to us and they said a social worker should be in contact with us within 3 days.






Homestudy Agency - Application Accepted 1/7



Jan, 7th - Got a letter from Homestudy Agency...
....they accepted our application (and the fee).

Now we get to mail a retainer (larger fee) with a signed contract. We also had to open a fedex account.