The rest of November passed me by fairly quickly, but let me doing a lot of thinking in the wake of National Adoption Awareness Month.
Of all the things that continue to bounce around inside my head and take up too much of my wakeful hours, the Flip the Script movement is at the front. I did a lot more reading that writing last month. One, because I was doing my best to listen to other adoptive narratives as I had told my readers we should. Two, because I found that a lot of adoptees do not want non-adoptees writing the hashtag, even if it is to be, in lack of better terms at the moment, an ally. And I get it – similar to other movements, that is supposed to be their space and they deserve to own the whole the it. I am actually going to go back through and take the tag off all my previous entries. I do not want to talk over any part of the adoption triad. I think next year I may even chose to stay silent for the month so as to say, “I am respectfully waiting my turn.” I hope that makes sense.
Again, my thoughts with adoption are all knotted together at the moment.
I was caught off guard over Thanksgiving by a relative on D’s side of the family. We had known this particular relative had some reservations about the adoption because of the decades they had lived in Africa previously. But over that weekend, there were other, more disappointing “concerns” to address that I feel should mentioned and cleared up here.
I am not yet a mom. The term used in our community is “prospective adoptive parent.” It means I’m in the running for all those terms I cannot wait to be called: mommy, maman, mom, mum. Knowing that sometime in the next year I am going to get to be a mom is still staggering to me. But every time I think about being a mom myself, I am reminded that there is woman out there who has missed out on the chance to parent the child that will one day be pitter-pattering up and down my stairs. Another mom, and all to often in the adoption community, an invisible mom.
November is International Adoption Month! A wonderful time of year to help educate our communities about adoption and foster case, and even greater opportunity to allow less prominent voices within the adoption community to speak up, also known as Flip the Script.
I was really excited to see an adoptee featured in American Girl. Years and years ago, I spent hours flipping through the glossy American Girl magazines and I know how the articles really spoke out to me. The article is written from Amaya’s viewpoint. She is strong, beautiful, and I hope her story helps other girls learn more about adoption and foster care.
On the earth, everybody’s a brother or a sister. It’s like the golden rule in school: People should treat others the way they want to be treated. So we try to do that.
As of today, our dossier is officially in the hands of the agency in Johannesburg.
We started this process almost two years. Long talks about what we imagined our future family would look like, our individual concerns regarding adoption, and whether or not we felt up to the many challenges that would soon present themselves just during the process of applying to become adoptive parents, never mind the ups and downs of parenting. And even through all those considerations it had never occurred to use just how much of our energy we would have to put into the paperwork.
Just a brief update – D and I received our I800-A receipt of approval in the mail yesterday! We are good to go for an adoption for one child between the ages of 0-2 through November of next year~ yay!
What we got in the mail was the not the official form we need to sign and have apostilled. I have since learned that yes, that was the official form. We needed an affidavit, once again, outlining that we agreed the attached copies were true copies of the form from Custom & Immigration. So it was off to the notary’s office… again.
I have contacted our international adoption agency for further guidance, but at this point we are only waiting on THREE things for our dossier:
Signed and Apostilled USCIS Approval Form Copy Affidavits
Apostilled HR letters for D
One last Apostilled Reference Letter from a Friend
The process of adoption is hard and really never ending, no matter what member of the adoption trifecta one happens to be a part of (adoptees, birth families, and those like us, the adoptive parents). These beginning months of our journey seem to be hard, and I know being an adoptive family will eventually be even more difficult, which is why I am taking this moment to put my jealousy up on the shelf.
We are blessed. We are so grateful that we can consider adoption as our first means of building a family. D and I have not experienced the heartbreak of infertility or child loss. We are not struggling to find the financial means to bring a child into our home and raise them in comfort. Our jobs allow us to save up ample time for the need to stay in country for the weeks and weeks needed to complete the adoption paperwork in South Africa.
In the past few months, D has been out of the country a lot. So much so that I had to start a new job, and interview for a different job, with him overseas. It meant that a lot of our paperwork has been put on hold for the past month (hence no update since I was all frazzled and lonely). But now that he has been back and settled for a week without dashing off somewhere, we were able to submit our approval application to Custom and Immigration Services for permission to adopt from South Africa.
The I800-A is pretty straight forward – it is basically confirming some basic information: who are you, who is your spouse, have you been arrested, have you adopted before? It asks for the adoption requirements of your home state, and you need to send some supplementary documents with the applications (proof of existence such as a passport copy, proof of marriage, your notarized home study, etc.). We had it mailed over and are waiting for confirmation via email that it was received (yet another supplemental form that you can fill out).
At this point, we have a notary appointment tomorrow to get the rest of the documents finished in a timely manner. I am hoping that we can send everything in our dossier to our international adoption agency excepting the USCIS I800-A approval by the end of August. D is expecting to be out of the country again starting in September for his work (including two weeks in Paris for some training over Thanksgiving – I would be jealous, but I may go to get and meet up with him for part of it). We are also considering getting POA tomorrow in addition to the notarizations so that if he is out of country when our approval comes in, I can sign for him and get it notarized/apostiled, and sent out before he comes home again.
No clue how long it may take us to get the approval, but I’m secretly hoping we can have the dossier in South Africa by early October. We’ll probably have to do the home study again within 6-8 months – there are some delays happening in country with international adoptions – but at least it will only be an update and all these scary, starter stuff will be behind us!
So we are finally at PHASE TWO of this paperwork process. Our family physician gave us a bit of a hard time about the paperwork – he wanted us to come in to follow up on our bloodwork in order to get the medical forms we needed to finalize the home study. Except that we did not really go over anything. We just waited around in the office while he finished up the paperwork, which I had to constantly correct as he and the notary kept forgetting to fill out important sections.
But, now our home study has everything, including the official offer letter for my new job! (That’s right! I am officially a new federal employee, which means benefits and income so we can continue onward with the adoption.) Our social worker has said we can expect our final copy of the home study hopefully sometime next week.
I have now officially graduated from my Masters program. Additionally, I am now officially unemployed as my assistant position at the University finished as well. This should not affect the adoption process as we know it as I am looking for full-time work. Lucky for me, I got a call literally 30 minutes before the graduation ceremony started for an interview this Wednesday! Asking for good thoughts and prayers, whatever you can send! The place I am interviewing with is exceptionally ideal as they have some flexible hours and daycare in the building – this would be great for a family that needs a lot of extra support like ours will.
As for the adoption, we are literally just waiting on the updated medical paperwork for our home study to be officially approved. We’re filling out the I800-A application so that we can mail it immediately. I’m hoping we can get it out soon so that our fingerprinting appointment will come before D goes out of the country for work again.
Will probably have a little more information in a week or two, settling in to cleaning up the house and refiling all our paperwork properly in our office. Our adoption paperwork is a bit scattered due to my finals frenzy, so I’m going to concentrate on pulling that together on my first week off.