When you first read this post you might be overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that needs to be done. Don’t be. We think it’s equivalent to 9-months of pregnancy without the morning sickness or midnight runs to Five Guys Burger Joint! (Double-cheeseburger, lettuce, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo, jalapeno peppers, please!) We spent six months gathering the required paperwork, police checks and fingerprinting, going through stringent interviews with Virginia Social Services and our adoption agency in San Francisco (ATWA), fulfilling requirements required by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and taking courses in “baby handling”, “conspicuous family awareness” and “baby first aid."
The following is a synopsis of our schedule since we decided to adopt in May 2009:
May 7, 2009 – Discovered that Japan had opened it’s doors to international adoption in 2007
May 8, 2009 – Came across a blog written by an American couple who had successfully adopted a baby from Japan through an agency in California blog written by an American couple
May 25-30, 2009 – After a week of thought, prayer, online research and talking with the couple whose blog we had found, we announced to our family our plans to adopt a baby from Japan (they were ecstatic!!!)
June 8, 2009 - Submitted an application to Across the World Adoptions (ATWA) and were accepted two days later!
June 15, 2009 - Contacted another couple living in Virginia that had adopted from Japan through ATWA. They were very helpful in providing advice on how to navigate the process. (We are becoming good friends and their little girl is adorable!!!)
June 20 – 28, 2009 – Filled out the personal information package and home evaluation, required by social services
June 28, 2009 – Had our first joint home study interview and evaluation with our social worker
June 30, 2009 – Had required medical exams and blood work done
June 10 – July 10, 2009 – Prepared a photo book containing photographs of us, our family, our friends, and of our house - inside and out. This is required by Japan for private international adoptions
July 10, 2009 – Had back-to-back individual interviews with the social worker
July 13, 2009 – Traveled to San Francisco, CA for our interview for final approval with Lesley and Taz at ATWA.
July 15, 2009 – Attended a Baby Care Class at a local hospital
July 10 – 20, 2009 – Gathered required documentation to complete home study: CPS clearance, employment verification, fingerprints, driving history, etc
August 13, 2009 – Home study was complete, and sent to ATWA for review and acceptance
August 1 – Sept 21, 2009 - Worked on renovating our guest room into a nursery (with much help from family!)
August 28, 2009 – Received a request from ATWA for further documentation for our dossier: certified copies of birth certificates, photocopies of passports, driver’s licenses, marriage certificate, birth mother letter, etc.
September 1, 2009 - Submitted application for I-600A to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
September 28, 2009 – Got fingerprinted by USCIS
November 27, 2009 – Andy’s family had a surprise baby shower for us!!!
November 28, 2009 - Obtained I-171H, “Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition”
November 28, 2009 – Sent a copy of the I-171H to ATWA
November 29, 2009 - Were officially put on the waiting list for a referral, and ATWA began showing our photo album and letters to expecting birth-mothers in Japan
December 19, 2009 – Sent pictures of our nursery to ATWA so they could show potential birth-mothers in Japan
January 1, 2010 – Took an online “Conspicuous Adoption” course with our family, offered through Adoption Learning Partners (ALP)
January 5, 2010 – Began preparing for a referral by: researching how airlines handle travel for babies from Japan to USA (with only one month’s notice from when we get our referral), researching cloth or paper diapers and types of formula, bottles , adoptive breast feeding, and the list goes on
February 6, 2010 to present – Excited but still trying to grasp the reality that we will be parents this year!