If adoption is a journey, then we’ve already worn out two pairs of hiking boots. The first we wore through during the process of getting certified for foster care, which we hoped would end in a local adoption. The second was our time spent in Houston preparing for international adoption. Now there’s a new (third) shiny pair of steel-toed, red-laced boots on our feet: preparing our home study for the second time after our move back to Colorado.
I have had a lot of people ask me what changes will take place with our adoption process since we had to move. And frankly, for a while my answer was pretty vague. That’s because I knew a lot would change, but I didn’t know the details. I knew we would lose the money invested in working with our local agency in Austin, TX. And I knew we would have to pay the agency here in Colorado to work with us. So money was an instant downside. But being around our family in our hometown seemed to easily outweigh any issues we’d have with money or time. We need the support of friends, grandparents, and siblings. We need to remain in the same home for at least a year or two after the adoption is finalized, as well. This is to ensure stabilization and proper attachment of our new child. If we had adopted in Texas, we would be committing to stay there, far from family, for all that time. We knew, when we saw the opportunity finally arise, that we should move back home to Colorado.
So here we are. We are currently living in my parents’ house while they are out of state on temporary job assignment. They were so gracious to allow us to live here while going through the process of finding a home. it is helping us save money and sanity while we try to collect our bearings and move forward. However, we can’t complete a home study living somewhere that’s temporary. Redoing our home study has to wait until we have a home of our own. But the downside is that our dossier is still in the hands of a Russian agency and very “active.” They can’t “put it on hold” while we figure things out. We could get a referral at any time. Compounding things is the fact that our I600-A (a very important form we obtained through the Immigration/Homeland Security Agency) expires soon. Our fingerprints that go hand-in-hand with that form expire in less than a month. We can renew them with no cost or hassle if we have a current home study to send in with the request. Which we don’t. So we don’t have all the time in the world to get this home study done. In fact, I have been collaborating with people from our agencies (including our new one here in Colorado) since before we moved just to make sure the coming home study gets done in time. So now we know the layout of our situation.
We have a firm grasp on what has to take place to move forward (or backwards, it feels like) with the adoption:
- We need a home study to move forward. A social worker must re-interview us and give the “thumbs-up” on our living situation and put that all on paper. (30-40 pages, to be exact) The home study cannot take place at my parents’ house. It must take place where we intend to bring the adopted child home to.
- While we house-hunt, we have begun to get things done that are required for the home study. We have had doctor’s appointments and blood work done (can’t have HIV, just like last year when we were tested for it), I filled out a mountain of paperwork including all new applications to our all-new agency here in Colorado and lots and lots of questions about our lives and how much we bicker and yell. The kids’ appointments are next week and we have gone down to the police department to have our fingerprints taken so background checks can be run. AGAIN. I have talked and talked with my liaison at the local agency about how we can gear up for the home study without doing it until the last possible moment; when we buy a house.
- We have signed up for training classes through the agency. In Texas 10 hours were required. Here, it’s 24. Bummer. We completed 24 hours 3 years ago (in Colorado) for fostering, updated that with a 10-hour booklet the following year, and then attended a 10 hour class in-person just last year in Houston. We’ve kind of heard all this stuff before. But policies be policies. We follow along as many times as they tell us.
- I have called the Department of Homeland Security to assess exactly how much time we have to buy a house and get into it. I am told that the fingerprints that expire in less than 30 days can be allowed to do so. However, the all-important I600-A that I mentioned above can NOT be allowed to expire. We need a home study to renew it. Fine. How long do I have to get the home study done? The representative tells me I have until November 30th when our form expires. “But…” I wearily assert, “when do I have to send the renewal forms and home study packet in by to get it completed by that expiration date?” She tells me that the current processing time for such documents has been running at 60-75 days. “GREAT!” So now I have an actual answer. I need to send in the completed home study 75 days before our form expires. Which looks like mid-September to me. And a home study, at it’s fastest, will take two weeks to complete. So, by my estimation, we need to have our house purchased and lived in by late August or the first couple days of September. Voila’! Answers, people! We have answers!!
- So that means we have a month and a half to get into a house. But we are looking in a nice neighborhood where all we can afford is a fixer-upper. So we need to get into the house ASAP in order to first have two or three weeks to fix it up and make it livable. With closing taking 30 days or so, that gives us about 4 and a half hours to find a house.
- ONCE we have the home study snafu averted, we will have to move on to updating all necessary paperwork with Russia. Which I assume will be pretty close to ALL OF IT since we changed addresses, states, jobs, you know; everything. This is the stuff that has to get notarized and then apostilled by the state (at the capital) each time. Such a pain in my eager keester. But at least the state capital is only an hour away from me now instead of 2 1/2. That’s something to be happy about.
- And to top all of this off, we have now overspent by paying two agencies to do something we only needed to do once. So funds are starting to feel low. If anyone would just love to step up and help me with an awesome fundraiser idea that doesn’t put anyone out or anyone on the spot, please let me know. Something mutually beneficial would be better than just flat-out asking for hand-outs, which Josh and I have agreed is not the greatest way to approach people for help.
- In the meantime, we grow concerned that any minute we could get that referral that will cause all paperwork and house-inspecting to have to be done simultaneously over the course of twenty short minutes. That would stink. Like, a lot.
So that’s the latest summation of our situation. Good, bad, or otherwise, all of these steps are necessary, no matter how many times we complete them, to get our little girl home.