These are the next steps for our adoption process….
1) Social investigation report on girls [Will be completed anytime now]
-Collection of girl’s history (as much as can be gathered through interviews)
-Assessment of living conditions
-Collection of formal relinquishment letter
-Blood work, medical exams
2) Adoption coordinator compiles a dossier of documents for girls [Can take 1-3 months]
-Additional affidavits from biological family
-Parent death certificates
-Girl’s birth certificates
-Additional investigative report completed by Ghana social welfare
3) In the meantime, we - Jake and I - have also compiled our own dossier on us (home study, medical statements, marriage/birth certificates, photos, etc). Once the girl’s dossier is complete it will be sent with our dossier to the attorney in which he can go forward with final processes before our case can be submitted for a court date. [This final processing takes about 3-6 weeks]
4) From what I can gather, once dossiers are submitted it is taking on average about 3+ months right now to get a scheduled court date.
5) After the court date it can take anywhere from 1 day to 2 months to be granted the adoption decree. We need the adoption decree to file our I-600 form, which is the last approval needed.
6) Once we have the adoption decree we can choose to file our I-600 form either in Ghana or in the U.S. Approval typically takes around 2 months.
(With Justice’s adoption, all of the above steps were completed in 6 months, however, that was about 2 years ago now. The process has slowed since then.)
7) Once we are granted I-600 approval that means that our girls are officially approved as orphans by U.S. Immigration law. From here the process of acquiring our girl’s visas begins. If you remember (how could you forget?!?!) this was where all the junk happened in our adoption of Justice. We traveled to get him in June of 2010 thinking we were simply going to pick up his visa (which we thought had already been printed) and then bring him home. However, there were miscommunications and delays, and we ended up waiting 3 more months until his visa was printed. Current wait time for visa processing is 1-2 months.
8) After the girl’s visas are printed then we travel to bring them home.
So, we have a ways to go. This is where you just have to take a deep breath and trust everything – the timing, the paperwork, the court systems, even the mailman for goodnessakes – to the Lord. At any point in this process things could get messed up, rules can be changed, extra paperwork required, or unnecessary delays/hiccups can be thrown in. With international adoption you learn to roll with the punches.
I will be honest here. Until I received the picture of my girls with my smiling husband at 4am earlier this week I had been guarding my heart against entering into this adoption. I don’t trust this process. To be frank, I am just waiting until something goes wrong. But I took one look at that picture and I heard my Savior say trust Me. And I weeped. I felt ashamed that I was guarding my heart against attaching to them because I don’t want to get hurt. Ugh. I’m so selfish. I’ve realized that I am trying to grasp for control over my emotions because there is nothing else in this process that I can control. For days I’ve been whispering to myself hold on loosely until you can hold on tightly. Well, that motto has pretty much gone completely out the window since Jake sends me at least 10 pictures and multiple videos a day of our girls that he has spent almost 3 full days with now. In fact, I was actually beginning to tell myself that it was good that I wasn’t on this trip because it would be an awful feeling to create an even deeper bond with them and then have to leave. And then, this thought was stopped cold in its tracks. I was brought back to the week that adoption was first put onto my heart over 3 years ago. I had gone for a walk with a friend and confided all my worries and objections and reasons why we couldn’t possibly adopt to her. And she said to me gently yet boldly, “Adoption isn’t about you.”
This is what I needed to hear again. Today. 3 years after our first adoption started, and I am back at square 1, needing to remember the basics.
Other parts of this feel different. I am realizing that this process no longer requires my blind faith. I HAVE SEEN MY LORD move mountains on behalf of Justice. I HAVE EXPERIENCED HIM come through in the most desperate, hopeless looking situations. His faithfulness met us time and again in our last adoption. We no longer just hope in His character. And if we did that would be enough. But this time we have evidence of it in our lives. I am more sure of His ways than ever. His voice is clearer. His Sovereignty is stamped on my heart.
I watch a video of our girls with the dust of Africa in the distance as they play with sunglasses and Jake’s voice goes over it all “Say hi to mommy!!!” he says over and over. I smile and feel my heart break. I long to just hold them and cry. Cry over their past and cry happy tears over how our God has picked them out to give them hope and a future. Just like he did for me almost 8 years ago now when he intersected my mess of a life. Just as He promises to any who would come and bow down to His Son.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11~