Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Catch up

This is the first (and very long) entry of our blog to record the adoption of our baby. It seemed like a good way to document this little adventure and keep family and friends updated as to where we are in the process!

Starting a family has not been easy, fun or private for us. Between September 2006 and March 2007, we attempted IVF treatments. We experienced a miscarriage on October 17, 2006 and 2 unsuccessful rounds. We have no regrets but are happy to put that painful chapter behind us.

Prior to getting sucked into the IVF world, we had decided that regardless of the outcome, adoption would be something we would love to do and that we would never see it as a last resort.

Somewhere in the middle of that insanity, we got married. Twice. On November 11th in Utrecht, the Netherlands and one week later on the 18th in Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA.

There's no one answer as to how we came to the decision to adopt from Vietnam, or how we chose the agency we are going to work with. Through lots of research and discussions, it just happened. So far we are very happy with the agency- the staff is knowledgeable and their practices ethical. We are hoping that our baby will be between 5 and 10 months old at the time of our travel, sometime in 2008. We do not have a preference for a boy or girl; just a healthy baby.

We have decided to work with a small agency in the US. Through them, we were connected with a social service agency located in Germany whose director is a Social Worker originally from the US. He has assigned us a SW located in the Netherlands who will complete our Homestudy, assist us in organizing our paperwork and guide us through the process. She is an American married to a Dutch national and are adoptive parents themselves. So far she has been absolutely incredible- answering anything and everything, a pleasure to talk to and did an amazing job at putting my mind at ease during our first conversation when everything seemed so overwhelming.

At the start of April we began our paperwork. Here is a rundown as to what we have already completed and what's coming up:

Collecting documents
or: Drowning in Paper. Yeah, this has been fun. My years as a Case Manager have come in handy. Never did I think I would ever be managing us (although Hans would beg to differ)...but it's not been too bad. What kind of documents?
  • Marriage/Birth Certificates
  • Police checks (NL for both, US for me)
  • Child Abuse Clearance (US, me)
  • Tax returns
  • Employment verification
  • Mortgage/Life Insurance/Wills
  • References
  • Health Checks
  • Homestudy Questionaaire
  • Fingerprints (US)
  • I-600 A, CIS application (Citizenship and Immigration Services, this approves us to adopt)
We have an excel sheet/checklist and 3 plastic binders to keep track of which documents go where. The fun part is making sure that anything in Dutch is translated into English (hasn't been an issue yet), the correct seals and stamps are applied by the appropriate people at the appropriate offices after standing in the appropriate lines, and keeping track of which documents need to be renewed before the final dossier is submitted to the Vietnamese government. Things like police and health checks can't be more than 6 months old at time of submission.

With the exception of the CIS application, these documents must be reviewed by our SW during our Homestudy. After that we submit our CIS application with our fingerprints to the American Consulate in Germany; they process applications to CIS for Americans living in Europe.

The Homestudy questionaaire took weeks to complete and was pretty challenging. It consisted of 17 pages of questions on everything from our names, upbringing, relationships with family members, traumatic experiences, how we met, why we are adopting, how we intend on raising our child, how we will incorporate our child's birth country into our lives, etc. Pretty intense, kind of strange, a little fun...A few hours of working on that was typically followed by a glass of wine or shot of whiskey (!)

Fingerprints. We have an appointment at 9:30 this Friday at the American Consulate in Amsterdam. The Federal Government must confirm that we are not felons or on the FBI Most Wanted list. How funny is that?! A plus to Friday is that the director of our agency will be in NL this week for a conference on Children's Rights in the Hague. We are going to meet her after our appointment which is great since we have only spoken over the phone.

Homestudy. This has been scheduled for Monday, June 4th at 10:00. Our SW will come to our home to interview us and review and discuss our questionaaire and documents. She may or may not want to tour the neighborhood, too. This appointment will be between 4-6 hours. We can't be that interesting, can we?

Life Book. We will be putting together a book for our baby with pictures, notes, etc. of this process up to and including our trip to Vietnam.

In between paperwork and waiting (and waiting) there's lots to learn about Vietnam, money to save, stuff to do around the house, last chances to stay out really-really-really late, as well as just live our daily lives. We are very much looking forward to meeting our baby and becoming parents, and are so fortunate to have family and friends in both the US and NL who are as excited about our adoption as we are!

I promise that future entries will not be as long as this one...


Kathleen said...

An adoption blog. Excellent. All the cool kids are doing it. :) I'm so excited for you guys!

Anonymous said...

This is so wonderful and totally exciting. We are so happy for u 2. The blog is a great way to keep us up to date. Thankyou!!!! Can't wait to see u in June!

tineke said...

Very good idea!

Anonymous said...

Kerry, this made me cry and get so so excited for you!! Don't apologize for the length!! I love to hear every detail. My prayers are for your speedy and smooth completion of this process. I can't wait to see this child's smile!!!! I love you!!! xoxoxoxo Gaily in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous idea and I look forward to reading your updates of this proecess.
- Carrie

Anonymous said...

What a great gift not only for your friends and family but for the baby some day too!
You and Hans are becoming parents. Wow!
Love, Mb

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