Last week I had written asking for questions from anyone, and said I would answer them…so here’s the first round of questions I received! Please feel free to continue asking them, either post a question in a comment string here, or send me an email! These are great questions, and please don’t hesitate to ask other questions about the process or our new son, or our family, transitions, future, parenting, etc.! As long as its appropriate we’d love to answer it! 😉
Q: Do you get updated photo’s/letters from W’s orphanage so you can stay up to date on his progress and successes?
A: We do not get communication from the creche/orphanage. In Haiti, rules prohibit adoptive families from having direct contact via email/phone/mail/etc. with the orphanage directors. All adoptive parents must go through their agency coordinator. We would be alerted by our agency (they play “middle man” in these situations) if W was to become very sick, or need significant medical attention. They do not send photo “updates” or summary paragraph snapshots of the children in their care to waiting families. However, we do “check-in” with other families that are visiting their kids at his orphanage. We have a great community of families across the nation connected on a private FB group. Whenever someone is heading down, they collect letters, photos, small gifts, video messages, etc. to take down to children from their parents in the U.S. We have already done this a few times in the past 3 months, and from what we hear, it is something met with big smiles from our kiddos! We also take photos of each others’ children (only the officially referred children) for each other. So, by doing this, we have photos dating back to when W first came to the orphanage at age 3, and every few months after that! I’m already working on a digital scrapbook of his early years as far back as we can find.
Q: As an American, (writer of this question is Canadian), what did you have to do in your own country in order to be able to adopt internationally. There seems to be SO MUCH paper work already completed and nothing has even been sent to Haiti yet!
A: Yes. In the adoption process, we quickly learned the “slang” terms! LOL the dossier building process is very lengthy and most call it “the Paper-Chase”! 🙂 In the U.S. we were required to have original birth certificates, original marriage licenses, notarized copies (probably have notarized 50+ documents over the last 3.5 years!) of pretty much everything under the sun, medical records, recommendations from doctor, friends, professionals, family, etc. A full Home Study done by a social worker, (and updates every 6-8 months, or if anything changes like job, home, income, etc.), local background checks, FBI checks, the works! A full psychological evaluation for both parents – they do not skip any minute detail. Even more than that that I’m not even thinking of of the top of my head – it was COMPLETELY overwhelming. They say Dossier building usually takes 4-6 months just to track down all the papers, signatures, appointments, etc. For me, I refused to allow anything in my control to take that long! LOL So I decided to buckle down, organize myself, and get it all done in 4 WEEKS. Yes, crazy, I know. 🙂 I got a 3″ binder, and divider pocket tabs. It became our adoption binder – everything related to the adoption goes in there. Receipts from everything from postage for mailing dossier and other paperwork, to plane tickets to program fee invoices. (there are tax write offs later on that can be super helpful – don’t forget that!) Then, I labeled each divider for different steps in the process. Home Study, USCIS I-600, (then later USCIS i-800 even though we never switched), Dossier, Documents, Receipts, etc. Everything I receive is filed there in clear plastic protective covers, in the section it goes in. You will not want to lose any of this because there’s probably been 10 times at least that I’ve had to track down my i-600 expiration or my fingerprint expiration, or grab an extra copy of my home study to notarize, or make another copy of a notarized document. Keep it all together and organized and it will help immensely! I also went through the list from our agency of everything the dossier needed and highlighted each document needed and made a checklist and timeline of when (and how) I would need to get it done. For me, it meant driving 90 minutes to the state capitol building to obtain documents, (of both states I lived in) instead of mailing it and requesting (which could take 4-6 weeks to get back). Anyways. YES it is a ton, and it is a ton no matter where you live! Seems overkill but if I was the birthmother giving up a child, I would want them to pull out all the stops to make sure the new parent was safe and the new home a safe and loving environment for my child. Just because the child is given up does NOT mean they were unwanted or unloved!
Q: What kind of contact do you have with W while he’s stuck there?
A: Going back to first question – we can send letters and photos and quick 30-second iPhone videos with other families who are visiting. But other than that – our visits will be our main form of communication. The children are not allowed to Skype or email (not that this would even be possible most of the time there is no internet connection!). Now that we have our Exit Letter, our main connection will be our visits. We are planning to go down every 6-8 weeks as we are able, even if it is just one of us. We are not planning to take all of the kids again, (unless this drags on forever) as it is just too expensive to justify. We are so thankful for this trip next week, so our bio kids can see first-hand what W’s world is really like down there – we are hoping this will give them more grace and a better understanding of where his habits or traits will be coming from when he gets home. We also have wanted them to have this kind of ministry experience for a long time – we are excited for them to be able to be the hands and feet of Christ to these kids who desperately need someone to love them!
Any other questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!