Thursday, January 25, 2007

One down, one to go!

Got our FDLE clearance. Cleared 1/12/07.

Just waiting on DCF now.

Crossing my fingers that it arrives before 2/1/07 so we can keep on schedule.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

One Month

Dan and I have joked about how we're going to take "monthly" pictures like women often do when they are pregnant. Since we started the process exactly one month ago today, what better day than today to start? We've also talked about doing something special as we go through this time of waiting. So look for a new picture and a little update on the process on the 20th of each month.
Here we are, one month into the adoption!

Saturday evening found us heading out to Laura and Chris Bravo's house for what we thought was going to be a quiet birthday dinner and a movie with the two of them. We had no idea when we were driving over that we would be walking into a surprise party! (My first words when we walked in was to tell everyone that it's generally a good idea to not park in front of the house where the surprise party is taking place...). Anyway, we were totally shocked! I couldn't believe that I had spent the evening before with several of the girls, and no one slipped! We had friends come that we had not seen in several months. It really was a great evening, and a nice way to celebrate our birthdays, and as a bonus, it was a fun way to end month one of the adoption process.

Speaking of being one month into the adoption, here is a list of all we've accomplished so far...

~applied to our agency
~been accepted by our agency
~signed our contract
~filed our I-600A
~had our homestudy visit
~had our references completed
~been fingerprinted for the FBI
~had our police records notarized
~had our physicians letters notarized
~gotten certified copies of our marriage certificate
~filled out paperwork for our state clearances (FDLE & DCF)
~done 10 hours of parent education, and filled out 6 pages of essay questions each
~sent various checks to our agency
~assembled two dossiers
~received a Certificate of Completion for our parenting classes
~gotten confirmation that our FBI fingerprints were "fine"
~been given verbal confirmation that our FDLE clearance is "in the mail"

We're waiting on...
~FDLE & DCF clearances

Once we receive those...
~our homestudy can be completed
~we can finally move forward to get our I-171H
~complete our scrapbook (2-4 pages with pictures of us, our house, and a story about our lives)
~submit our dossier(s) for certification and authentication

Once we get our dossier(s) certified and authenticated...
~we can send our dossier(s) to Vietnam

And on the home front, we have started some remodeling projects...
~Dan is installing new windows on the downstairs, "Low-E" ones, which will hopefully cut down on the heat in the kitchen during the afternoon hours!
~Dan is also building cabinets along the railing for the loft. He has completed the shell for each of them, and now they need doors, trim, and a top. The cabinets will hopefully enable us to make the loft more versitle...another bedroom, a play room, the guest room, or whatever we need it to become.
~I'm also trying to talk Dan into letting me rip out wallpaper and freshen up the kitchen. It hasn't worked yet, but I'm trying! :-)

That's all for now!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is an I-171H???

An I-171H is probably the most important document to the adoption process. It is the single piece of paper that will allow us to adopt a child from another country. Read below...

The I-171H – “Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition

When the USCIS approves your I-600A, they will send you form I-171H, “Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition.” You should also request that notice of this approval be sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country from which you plan to adopt. In a nutshell, the I-171H states that you are approved to adopt a child from the foreign country you specified way back when you completed your I-600A.

Your I-600A petition approval remains valid for 18 months from the date of approval. You must re-file your I-600A petition if it expires (there is an “expedited” re-filing procedure available). (It’s important to note that your fingerprints will only be valid for 15 months – you will have to have your fingerprints retaken if they expire.)


We will be waiting a while for this piece of paper. This document is the culmination of all of the paperchasing we've been doing the last month. The person who signs, seals & delivers this paper will have taken a look at our home study, our I-600A, and our FBI fingerprints, and has deemed us suitable to adopt internationally. Once we receive this piece of paper, we will have a completed dossier (or two, if we are approved to adopt two children. Once the dossier(s) are complete, they will travel from our house to the Secretary of State to be notarized, return home, and then travel to DC, or Cali. to be authenticated by the Vietnam Embassy.

What is this I-600A we keep talking about???

Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition

The I-600A is the first form you will fill out with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is completed before an orphan is located or has been identified for an adoption by you. Do NOT confuse this form with the I-600 form which is the Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative.

Guidelines Per the I-600A Form Eligibility
You must be a U.S. Citizen. In the case of a married couple one of the spouses must
be a U.S. Citizen.The prospective parent is 25 years of age or older; or one of the partners within a marriage is 25 years of age or older.

Documents Needed to Show Proof

The following must be sent with the completed I-600A form:
A birth certificate to show proof of citizenship. If unable to obtain a birth certificate; a copy of the baptismal certificate under the seal of the church showing place of birth.
The baptism must have taken place within two months of the birth. If this is not possible, affidavits of two U.S. citizens who have knowledge of the applicants birth in the United States. Naturalization papers or a valid U.S. passport will also work.

Proof of marriage and the proof of ended previous marriages. Photocopies of divorce decrees, death certificates, and the marriage license will fill this requirement.

Completed home study with a recommendation by the state agency. Be sure to use a social worker or agency that understands the guidelines needed to be met with international adoptions. Different information is needed with an international adoption than with a domestic adoption.

Fingerprints of all adults over the age of 18 who reside in the home. After filing of the form; the INS will notify the petitioners with the time and place to be fingerprinted. Do not miss this appointment - it could mean a denial of your petition.

Payment of the petition and fingerprinting fee per person. One check can be used for the entire sum (filing fee and fingerprint fee) made payable to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Check with your adoption agency or the USCIS for updated fee amounts. File the I-600A with your local USCIS District or Sub-Office. See the USCIS page for locations. Scroll down to the I-600A where you can also find a printable I-600A form. You can NOT file electronically.

The text above was taken from here.

If you want to see what this form looks like, you can click here.

Dan and I were able to file the I-600A on 12/29/06. Fingerprinting was done on 1/2/07. The USCIS is waiting for a copy of our homestudy, so they can proceed forward with the paperwork and issue us our I-171H.

Adoption Speak

Before we entered the world of adoption, we had never heard terms like "paperchasing", "I-600A", "dossier", and so many more. We quickly learned the definitions of each, and have become intimately involved in each of these activities and/or paperwork processes. I want you to understand what each step in the process is, so keep reading along. The next several posts will hopefully help you better understand the process, and help you become familiar with the amount of work we have done so far, and see how much we have left to do!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


We (meaning me, Shannon is already done) are in the process of going through some online educational materials recommended (required) by our adoption agency. No shocking surprises, but they do bring up some good points and remind us of a couple things. Generally, they have been worth the time and we will probably be referring back to them I would imagine.

If anyone is interested, the courses are freely available at The courses we are taking are:
- Conspicuous Families
- Let's Talk Adoption
- The Journey of Attachment
- Finding the Missing Pieces

So far, "The Journey of Attachment" has been the most insightful to me, as we have a lot of personalities around us to deal with as we go through that particular phase. I haven't gotten into "Finding the Missing Pieces" yet tho.

After I complete the educational materials, that should be it for our part of the home study and dossier. After that, we wait for several government agencies (most notably FDLE - Fl. Dept. of Law Enforcement and DCF - Division of Children and Families) to catch up with us. All I know on those two is that the FDLE check cleared this week, so they must at least have the file open. :) DHS (USCIS) is also working on us too, so hopefully they will be waiting on us by the time we need them to finish instead of vice versa.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

To-Do List

  • FBI Fingerprints, provided the "Application Support Center" of the FBI/Department of Homeland Security is open.
  • Drop off FDLE (FL Dept of Law Enforcement) background check in mailbox at Tradeport
  • Drop off DCF (Dept. of Children and Families) child abuse check in mailbox at Tradeport
  • Go to Orange County Sheriff's Dept. to get arrest record (non-existant)
  • Deliver last reference letter to Valerie. Make sure she understands the need for it to go in the mail before she leaves town on Thursday
  • Deliver Guardianship
  • Pick up Guardianship
  • Call doctor's office to schedule physicals, so we can get our "Physican's Letters" signed and notarized stating that we "Enjoy good health and are free from communicable diseases". Appointment 1/9/07
  • Make sure Dan talks to Sean to get his employment letter signed and notarized and faxed to us ASAP. Already in the mail to us. Should arrive Thursday
  • Pick up new marriage certificate-make sure it is certified - Going tomorrow morning to get this. 2 copies!

That's all we have left for our home study to be completed. Of course, the first two things listed will take 3-4 weeks to get back to us, so we're looking at (hopefully) February 1, 2007 for our home study to be completed, and then another 3 weeks to get our I-171H in the mail.

Apparently, as soon as we get our local background checks, our physician's letters, employment letter for Dan, and our marriage license, we will be all set with our dossier (except for the homestudy). It looks like we will have a dossier ready to send for notarization/certification/authentication by February 1!!!! Amazing!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, for sure! Of course, some of the things we need to do tomorrow morning will hinge on whether places are open, or closed to mourn President Ford.

We're on our way!