As we get closer to our date to go get our boys, I am realizing more and more that information on adoption is spread out, unspecific and hard to find. One of my goals as we head to Uganda is to be a bit of a journalist and set down the steps and specifics for future adopting families.
First of all, I'd like to share with you the steps for adopting domestically and through Uganda. Yes, these are going to change, and yes, other countries are very different, but at least you'll have some idea of what is to come if you're about to start this journey. Or, you'll have some idea how to pray for us as we continue our journey.
1. Find an adoption agency, such as Bethany Christian Services.
2. This agency will undoubtedly give you a mountain of paperwork including personal questions, questions about your spiritual growth and in-depth questions about your finances. Spend many hours filling that paper work out. (All the while thinking, "Baby, child, baby, child...this is all worth it!)
3. Hand in paper work and have home study visit and interview.
4. Continue adoption education through seminars and classes offered by the agency, on-line learning, and reading great adoption books. The Connected Child is a good place to start.
5. Wait--this is sometimes weeks, sometimes years. Wait until a brave birth mother chooses life for her child.
6. Celebrate and grieve when you are chosen. (More about the celebration + grief later)
7. Bring home a baby or young child and start the rest of the story!
As many of you know, we made it to #5 above and failed to make the leap to #6. I'm not sure of all God was doing with us, but I know one thing, God is in control of the timing and He is good, good God.
1. Find a home study specialist and/or a Ugandan adoption agency to work with. Since we are working directly with an orphanage in Uganda, we had a home study specialist help us with completing a second set of mounds of paper work (we used some of what we had done before as well) and to write up a state-approved home study. (About $2000 for home study)
2. Have your home study specialist complete the home study visit (looking around your home) and home study interview. These will be part of her write-up. Remember to keep copies of all that you give to your home study specialist. Her end product will be a summary of these papers, not necessarily the papers themselves.
3. When the home study is completed, download your I600a form, fill it out and send it in with an original, notarized copy of your home study. (Instructions on how and where to send it.) Right now the filing fee is $670. Do NOT forget to include that fee. The forms will be returned to you and the whole process will be set back. (Ahem. Personal experience.) There is also a $80 fee for each adult in your household. See the instructions for other documents to include with your home study.
**We chose our child from the orphanage before #1. If you are working with an agency, at some point in all of this you will be matched with your child**
**Our orphanage charges a very low rate (comparably) per child for the adoption. This cost covers the court fees and lawyer fees in-country. This fee was about $20,000 (for two children) for us.
4. Send your home study and all documents necessary to Uganda. I was following this list sent to me by the director of the orphanage we are working with:
divorce decree (if any)
pictures of family and home
copy of passports (about $150 per passport if you don't have one)
copy of birth certificates
physicals signed by a doctor
Police/FBI checks (total of about $100 for 2 adults)
5. WAIT for your fingerprinting appointment (the response to #3 above.) When you receive your appointment date, you do not necessarily have to go on the date specified. We got ours last Saturday. Our appointments were technically for October 9. We went yesterday (to the USCIS office in a nearby city), waited for about 2 minutes, had our fingerprints taken and were sent away. It was almost too easy.
6. WAIT for your I-171h, the response to #5 above. This is the form you will present at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala when you arrive in Uganda. And they will give you another form and a list of all you need to accomplish before you can come back to them for physical and visa.
7. WAIT for your Ugandan lawyer to send you your affidavit (ours is coming via email) which you will sign, notarize and fedex back. (THIS IS WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW Waiting for #s6, 7, and 8)
8. WAIT for Uganda to receive the affidavit and get court date.
9. Upon receiving court date, contact a travel agent who works with humanitarian flights (like Adoption Airfare) and get flights for all who are traveling. Find out where you will lay over, how long the flight will take and when you will arrive in Uganda. Yay! Humanitarian flights have more flexible return dates. *about $1500 per ticket* And figure in another $1000 per one way ticket for your adopted child(ren).
10. Arrive in Uganda a few days before original court date. This is where this Intercountry Adoption website comes in really handy. (There's stuff on it for earlier in the process too.) As much as I can understand here is what must happen in Uganda:
*Upon arrival in Kampala pay visa fee $50 per person
*Our room and board comes together with our guest house $25 per person per night (less for children)
*Go to the embassy and turn in your I-171h and receive forms to fill out.
* File a petition with Ugandan courts (both parents required in person)
*Receive legal guardianship of your child(ren) from Ugandan courts.
*Acquire a Ugandan passport at the Ugandan passport office for your child(ren). $400 per child
*Complete a physical through the US Embassy (details to be given when you go to the embassy when you first arrive.) $100 per child
*Once you have court documents and passports (as well as these completed forms: Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, Form DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-1981 Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements, Form I-864 Affidavit of Support or I-864W if a fuill and final adoption has been completed in Uganda) you can head to the US embassy for your visa interview. $230 per child Hopefully this interview is short and painless and you can fly out soon after.
COME HOME!! AND CELEBRATE!!
And then go to the US courts (with or without a lawyer) and pay another fee (can't remember how much this one is, maybe around $800?) to finalize the adoption.
And there you have it; simple, huh?
I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but it at least helps me make a little more sense of it to have it all here in one place.