Navigating the Waters of the Adoption Dossier

We are in the stage of gathering the final documents needed to complete our dossier.  This is very exciting because it means we are near to being officially placed on the waitlist for our little girl! (What will not be exciting is the following explanation of one of the more technical aspects of the whole adoption thing…my apologies in advance for boring the few faithful readers we still have!)

In any international adoption process, there are three  main components to the paper chase:

1-the Application Packet for your adoption agency,

2- the Homestudy, and

3-the Dossier.

The Dossier feels more daunting mostly because some of the documents are more challenging to obtain, and most every document included must be notarized, and then go through an authentication process both at the state and the national level. There are four or five levels of authentication required depending on which state you reside in.  They are:

1. Notary

2. County Clerk (this level is not needed in all states)

3. Secretary of State

4. United States Department of State

5. Ethiopia Embassy

Given the Dossier also requires two sets of official government fingerprints for each parent, you must also wait on approvals, fingerprint dates, responses to applications, etc. Sometimes the wait stretches out so long, that it can seem as if your file got lost in a box somewhere in Gov’t office #547.  (And some of my adopting friends will tell you that their have, poor things!) There are a total of 34 documents needed just for our Dossier, and unfortunately the work of gathering just one document can potentially stretch into weeks due to errors with dates, notarization mess-ups, etc.

This week has had its fill of highs and lows in the Dossier process. We are so very close to the end, and yet little glitches each day have prevented my FedEx’ing the final set of documents off for authentication.

First, this past Monday, November 1st, we were delighted to find an envelope from Homeland Security in our mailbox. YAY! We received our I-600A Customs Approval that I referred to back in this post in record time! Happy Dance! What a wonderful and appropriate way to kick off National Adoption Month!

Then, oops, the joy was short-lived, it appears there was a mix-up with our paperwork from Homeland Security. Yours truly was listed as the main adoptive applicant parent which wouldn’t be a bad thing except that wisdom dictates that the parent with the higher income always be approved as the main applicant. In this case, Jay is the only parent with ANY income, at least for right now, so that was a little bit of an issue. We got that settled…only to run into repeated issues with a medical letter.

A letter from Jay’s personal physician is a mandatory part of the packet, and for whatever reason repeated instructions to the doctor’s office about how the letter is to be dated, notarized, etc, have not been followed. We are currently on our fourth try to get this one little piece of paper correct and I am pretty sure our doctor’s office is rather weary of seeing me in their lobby. Wondering what fault I will find today with their latest draft of the aforementioned letter. Ah well….All other documents are now in order, have been officially notarized, except for one. Like I said, we are so close!

Throughout our dossier process, we have had the blessing of working with a lady who is a pro at dossier preparation. She has been invaluable to us, and because of her, instructions have been laid out very clearly, and so far we have not had to redo documents due to little errors here and there. She is amazingly organized and attentive to details, and knows exactly how to navigate the waters of the process. She is always calm and reassuring, and has answered so many questions for me, and streamlined the process so much for us as we’ve worked together the past few months to put our dossier together.  Jay says the money spent on the fee for her services is the smartest cash we’ve spent thus far on the adoption, and he is right!

Kate at KBS Dossiers already has the endorsement of Gladney as well as so many adoptive parents who testify to what great work she does. In fact, I heard about her way before we began the adoption process because so many adoptive parents give her shout outs on their blogs! But she has been so wonderful to us that I had to mention her.  If you are preparing to work on an international adoption, give her a call!

Truly, we are overjoyed that the process is moving along, and that we are many steps closer to bringing home our little sweetheart from Ethiopia.  I hope to be back before the end of the month to give you the wonderful news that we are officially waitlisted!!!

4 Comments

  1. Peggy
    Nov 5, 2010

    I’m so happy for y’all! I can’t imagine how hard the wait is but I do love to hear all the details.

  2. Mom/Ruth
    Nov 5, 2010

    Reminds me of preparing to go to Liberia years ago except that the international adoption process is even more daunting…and expensive! Hope you get an acceptably prepared letter from Jay’s doctor soon.

  3. We had issues with our doctor as well. Aren’t you thinking, do I really want someone who can’t follow rather simple instructions and pay attention to detail as my doctor? Hmmmmmmm.

  4. Leslie
    Nov 13, 2010

    The most important thing with all this paperwork IMO is just to write it all down and check it off piece by piece. I am so unorganized and I did it twice, so clearly anyone can do it! The doctor letter trouble is annoying. I had a similar challenge with the bank letter and the “local police clearance”, but ultimately, it gets done! Yay! Can’t wait to hear that you are “officially waiting.” :) :)