Saturday, February 6, 2010

Behind the Scenes Legwork II

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!


  1. Wow! I gotta say, things are so much different for babies now, than they were 14 years ago when I had Cody. I currently have two babies in my daycare "gig". One is 4 months old and one is 7 months old. There are so many more options and gadgets nowadays! I am so excited for you both, and even though it seemed like such a huge list, the fact that things were "happening" must have made it go by so much quicker!

  2. So, now I understand that you didn't go to San Francisco for the sole prupose of sightseeing ;-)
    I'm really happy for you two and wish you all the best!

  3. So glad I found another family adopting from ATWA from Japan! My husband and I started our process of Jan this year! :o) How exciting!! Here's to your referral.

    I actually loved conspicuous families. Very eye opening.

  4. I just stumbled across your blog - hope all is going well. We have a little girl that we adopted through ATWA! It's worth all of the "blood/sweat/tears" filling out the paperwork, and doing everything! Our blog is if you are interested in following how our journey was and continues to be with our beautiful little 18 month old! Not sure if you already have your little one, but thinking about you and hoping that everything is going well.

  5. I am in the middle of my adoption from Japan. I tried to go to adoptingfromjapan- but it is open to invited readers only. I'm in the middle of the paperwork maze, but see a light at the end of my tunnel.

  6. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)