Blog: Ana (left) with Kael and Juliet from Kidsave in Austin


Friday, December 16, 2005

On December 14, my paperwork went to Colombia. While the courts will be closed from December 15, 2005 to January 15, 2006, the documents will be translated during this time.

USCIS Calls for Fingerprints

I received the USCIS letter for fingerprints on Friday, December 2. Since the San Antonio USCIS office for fingerprints is closed on Mondays, my mother and I went to on Tuesday. We waited 3 hours! Note that Infopass (appointments made online) does not apply to the fingerprint office.

Dossier Sent to New York

I'm very excited that I mailed all my documents to Baker Victory Services, my adoption agency in New York, on Thursday, November 17. Jerri, the Colombian coordinator at Baker Victory Services, received all the paperwork on Monday, November 21. Jerri will obtain the apostille from New York for the homestudy and agency certificate. I should hear back from her next week.

It's been a journey trying to get documents, foreign documents (since I was born in Mexico), and foreign apostilles.I'll keep you posted.


Meeting Ana for the First Time

The local Univision channel announced that several children from Colombia who were participating in the Kidsave Summer Miracles program had not found families yet in Austin. It was sad to hear that children would be returning to their orphanage if the program did not find a family for them. I contacted Mary Gayle with Kidsave to inquire about the children, but with the realization that adopting a child at this moment was not possible.

I expressed interest in being a host family for 2006. Mary Gayle asked me if I had a preference, which I did not. My 7 year old son, Ivan, does well with boys and girls, especially older girls. His father's girlfriend's 13 year old daughter and Ivan get along very well. As the conversation went on with Mary Gayle, she spoke to me about Ana. Mary Galye felt extremely bad that she was unable to take her to church. Ana had been requesting this from her for a while. So, I agreed to meet her on Sunday evening.

When I met Ana, I found that she was extremely faithful for her age. I was quite impressed. This drew me to her since I believe that it is a gift to have such faith at such a young age. I was concerned about the possibility of a non-Catholic family adopting her since her beliefs were so deeply rooted as I observed. Her faith meant everything to her. Something told me to give it a try. I asked if Ana could stay with me that evening. Her chaperone was willing to go with me on such short notice.

I took Monday off, and we spent the day together going to the swimming pool, watching tv, and playing Barbies and cars. I saw how well she fit into our family. I don't think I had seen my mom so excited pulling out all my old Barbies. Ivan had so much fun having a mate to play by his side. He especially loved teaching her how to swim and speak English. Her chaperone said it was a match made in heaven.

I felt God was opening doors little by little. The odds of having her chaperone stay with us that evening was a blessing. I had a flight to catch on Tuesday morning so Sunday evening was the only evening I had . I would return after Ana's departure to Colombia. I learned that all the children had to return. All the children found families but they had to continue with the adoption process in the US while the kids were in Colombia.

Since this time, Ana and I have kept in touch by phone and e-mail. The anticipation is just as exciting as the pregnancy was with my son.


Dossier Tips and Costs

Most of the work in putting your dossier together will be done by the parent and not the adoption agency. It's very expensive to put this compilation of documents together. While the adoption costs are about $18,000 including travel to Bogota, the dossier costs about $5,500 with translation. I will include a list of required documents later.

I-600 Petition with Immigration: I learned that I should have submitted my US CIS (formerly INS) paper work for the I-600 as soon as I started the homestudy. The I-600 in San Antonio takes 3 months to process. Check out the web site to find out the waiting period for specific petitions at each USCIS district office. Houston was processing faster, but that was not an option. I asked and requested my paperwork to be transferred to Houston, but it was not granted.

FBI Prints: Take about 1 month. I thought it would be longer, but it was not. Take these prints for a small fee or no fee at your local police station. Then, send them with a check to the FBI. The FBI has information for prints on its web site.

Psychological report: Note that not all countries required this. If you are slightly thinking about adopting more than one child, make sure your psychological report says that you are qualified to adopt more than one child. There might be a requirement to have the specific number stated on your report. You can always ask the government that you are adopting the child from. Shop around for a psychologist. I found psychologists with experience in adoption psychological reports that ranged from $300 to $2,000. They charge about $100/hour. Some countries require MMPI (personality) testing done for single parents, which makes it more expensive. I was lucky to find a psychologist that charged me $100 for our initial visit, $50 or $75 for the test (purchase of the test is about this much), and $150 for writing the report. I was lucky that I was able to take home the test. Other psychologists charge you for the time you take on completing the test in their presence. I also found a psychologist who was willing to do the report for $150 for a couple. They didn't need testing so it was cheaper.

Apostilles: Certain federal documents (naturalization certificates, US birth certificates obtained from a military base, etc) have different processes.

From Poor but Happy web site:
U.S. DOCUMENTS (Requirements May vary by country-all documents must be certified or notarized, followed by the state apostille (state seal))
I suggest collecting 3 originals of each document submitted. Two originals will go to ICBF. One original, you keep for your records.

1. FBI Background check. In US, this takes about 2-3 months to complete.
The FBI website tells you specifically what to do. See above.

2. Home study conducted by a licensed agency in the United States athorized by I.C.B.F. Check out the ICBF web site for the ICBF authorized adoption agencies.

3. Medical certificate of each parent concerning physical, mental and emotional health, clearly expressing that the prospective parents do not suffer of any physical or mental illness and that therefore they are fit to adopt a child. Our medical document had to included the following statement that was requested by our attorney in Colombia: "Enjoys good physical and mental health." This certificate must be issued by a medical doctor legally authorized.

4. Financial statements, prove of employment, home ownership, car ownership, bank statements. 3 years of tax filings. This can be part of the homestudy.

5. Parent's birth certificate(s).

6. Marriage certificate and divorce decrees. Only one divorce is allowed per parent.

7. Three references of people that know the future parents for a long time as couple certifying their ability to adopt a child.

8. A letter from the Adoption Agency in the US in which certifies they will provide post - placement services on the family, once they return from Colombia with their adopted child. The Agency assumes responsibility for sending periodic reports to I.C.B.F. regarding the progress of the child's adaptation to his - her new home and social environment, until the time when the child is naturalized in the United States. Once the certificate of naturalization of the child is obtained, the U.S.A. agency have to send to I.C.B.F. copy of This Document of the naturalization of the child as American Citizen.

NOTE: All documents must be submitted in Spanish and must be translated into Spanish by a translator authorized by the Colombian Foreign Relations Minister. Check the web site. There are many translators listed. The attorney you select in Colombia can help you select your translator.

9. Permit granted by the country of residence of the adopting parents to legalize the intended adoption.



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