January 18, 2009, Ray and I decided to request information from Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI) about adopting a baby from China. We were in a hotel room in Ontario, California waiting to take a flight home to Oklahoma the next morning. We had some time to kill and just started googling different adoption agencies. Ray had an online friend that had adopted through CCAI and had wonderful things to say about the agency, so Ray decided to share with me what he had learned in his previous visits to the site.
The more he read the more interested we became in the details. We realized that we qualified for all of the things on the checklist which also peaked an interest.
I guess that I should back up a little….
We were in Ontario because Ray and I went to visit my mother and sister Julie for a "girls weekend" trip (for my mental well being). Ray and I had almost been married for 7 years and had yet to become pregnant. We had started in with a fertility specialist and had received some very disheartening news about our inability to conceive. So, in my family, the answer to catastrophic news is a "GIRLS’ WEEKEND" which includes a trip to Disneyland, scrap booking, and lots of girl talk.
The fact that the trip included Disneyland was how Ray got to tag along. We are DISNEYHOLICS in our home! I can't keep Ray away in good conscience knowing that he needed the trip as much as I did- even if he didn't want to participate in the other aspects of the weekend.
So back to the Internet search.... We were drawn to China in particular already because of Ray's background. When he was in high school his family was transferred to Singapore for his father's job. He had the opportunity to explore all over Asia! He was able to go backpacking in the Himalayas, visit Buddhist temples in Thailand, went for school activities such as rugby in Hong Kong, and he gained a love for the Asian culture and the people through his experience. It was a simple decision to put China on the short list of places to go to add to our family.
We also requested information from the state of Oklahoma the same night regarding the foster to adopt program. The information was much harder to navigate, but we were hopeful that we would be able to find a contact person for answers once they received our request.
We received a packet from CCAI just a few days later. It had a beautiful DVD with information about the agency and TONS of information! I cried when I watched the DVD (but I can tend to be a little emotional anyway). The amazing thing was that Ray seemed to be getting emotional as well.
We decided to continue to do extra research into the agency and the process of international adoption before we made an official decision, but before we knew it we were filling out the application. It was the second easiest "non-decision" that I have ever made. (The first being the decision to marry Ray) One second we were talking about the options and the next I was finishing up the application!
On February 3rd I mailed the application to CCAI! I was amazed at how much paperwork had to be gathered just to fill out the application. Finding the financial records, home owners insurance policies, pre-existing medical conditions for the purpose of adoption, retirement statements, blue book values of the cars, and all of the other things that you may not think of on a daily basis but that are required for the application was not so fun. (The worst was having to look through the 401K statements that we had been avoiding since the finical crisis hit). We also got our medical condition checklist submitted with our application for the waiting child program.
I just thought that paperwork was difficult. Man was I kidding myself!
I was so excited to get the application in the mail that day and I was so sure that we were going to be accepted that I applied for my passport on the same day- just so I could have it off the checklist. I started hounding Ray to get his passport updated since it was well past his expiration date. Anything that I could do to shave time off the wait to dossier completion!
February 5th we received notification that CCAI had received our application and that it was being processed! Ray got his passport application in the mail to get his passport current.
February 10th we were called by Hillary to let us know that our application was accepted! Ray put the call on speaker phone so that I could hear everything! I wanted to know every detail of what was next to come. Very quickly I realized that I had absolutely no control over the majority of the wait time in the dossier process. Once I got the paperwork started- it quickly went into someone else's hands. I couldn't stand the thought. I was already overwhelmed and I hadn't really even started anything. Hillary was very understanding and answered all of our questions- some multiple times.
The next day I had the completed service agreement and fee in the mail being sent overnight to CCAI. I was so determined that I would not be the hold up in this process! Anything that needed my action was going to be done quickly and complete. Plenty time to have wiggle room later if necessary!
February 16th we had our adoption physical with our primary care physician. He was so supportive of the process for us. We had labs done per CCAI request on the physical form and was told that we could come back to pick up the forms once the labs were completed. Yeah! One more thing off the check list!
February 20th I went to pick up the completed physical forms. I could tell that there was going to be a problem with reading the hand writing. I knew what it was supposed to say and I still had a hard time reading it. (and that is with practice- I am an ER nurse) I knew that I was going to have to type it out and take it back for him to sign again.
February 25th was our dossier conference call with CCAI 2 pm central time. The slide show was helpful and I felt like I had already gotten a jump on things since I had started almost everything in the guide by this time. All the requests were in for birth certificates, the marriage license, and all the paperwork needed by the home study agency. I actually left that call feeling pretty good about the progress that we had made already!
March 3rd we met with the pediatrician we will be using once we bring our little one home. I LOVE him! He came highly recommended by the doctors in the ER that I work with. He has a special needs son and has assisted in taking care of other international adopted children. He told me that I was free to page him whenever we received a profile so that he could give his honest input on the challenges and requirements that the child might bring. The whole office was extremely supportive with our decision and with the medical conditions that we had agreed to consider.
March 4th I got the completed employment verification form from work from the HR department. One more thing off the list- check, check.
March 5th I called the home study agency to see where we were in the process. I just wanted to make sure that our references were turning in their replies and that I didn't need to request anything else form previous states of residence. Our social worker then proceeded to tell me that she hadn't even had a chance to open any of our correspondence due to her work load. WHAT? Here I was busting my booty getting things taken care of and she hadn't even opened the envelopes! She told me that she normally carries a work load of 8 families and was currently working on 15! She told me that she probably wouldn't even be able to think about scheduling a home visit for another month!
OK that was the first slap of reality for me. No matter how much I have done I can't rush her. I can't even really start sending things off in the paper chase until we have this scheduled and completed since it has to go through all of the sealing steps AFTER being reviewed and approved by CCAI.
It is amazing though to be able to put these events into words now and realize that we are not at the beginning anymore! I know that I have so much more to do even before our logged in date (LID), but we are not at the beginning anymore. That is what I have to tell myself!
In the mean time I have found out about the Bai Jai Bei or the “100 Wishes Quilt tradition! I have been an avid quilter since junior high, and have even had the opportunity to contributed a quilt to a make-a-wish auction last year. I think that this will definitely give me something to do to occupy my mind and time as I start into the waiting process.
Thank you to all of my family and friends as you support us in this exciting and challenging time in our lives!