Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Big set back

The rain is pouring outside right now and I feel like the sky is weeping with me right now.  I feel so sad at the news I heard over the phone today.  First, let me say that my papers and payment were all received by our agency as expected.  I got a phonecall this morning (as anticipated) verifying that all was in order as far as that goes...and then she continued on to give me news that I did NOT want to hear.  First though, a tiny bit of background...

We are on track to have our dossier finished and in the mail this October or November.  Our official "wait time" (how agencies report it) begins at that point - even though we will have started the paper chase one year prior to that.  So, when an agency says that their average wait time is 12 months they are referring to the period of time between when your dossier is submitted and when you get a referral.  In our case we can add a year prior to that to our "wait time" as well as how ever many months it takes for us to get her home once we receive our referral for our little girl.  This is usually a few months (including two separate trips to Ethiopia).

So!  We knew that the agency we chose had slightly longer wait times than most out there, but we were impressed enough with their thoroughness and attention to detail and ethics - as well as with the conditions for the children in their transition home - that we were fine with that.  Our quoted wait time for the age of child that we submitted papers for was 24 months.  So, again, 24 months from dossier to referral.  Add the year prior to that and likely 4 months after that to bring her home and we're looking at a total of nearly 3 1/2 year actively pursuing the adoption to bring our baby girl home.  This contrasts dramatically to 2 years ago when the wait time was just 6 months.  Necessary government overhauls seriously slowed down adoptions back in 2011 just after I had begun seriously looking into adoptions in Ethiopia.

So, that's where we're at.  We knew things could fluctuate a bit one way or the other, as is the nature of international adoptions, but I wasn't ready for this (back to the phone call)...

I was informed that the agency had been monitoring wait times over the last few months and wanted to be sure that it was actually a trend and not a fluke, but that wait times are dramatically increasing.  After calculating things she said that her best estimate of our wait time now (instead of 24 months) would likely be around 42 months.  Almost double.  Whaaaa???

So, like I said before, once you add on the paper chase before dossier submission and the wait and two trips to bring her home...we're looking at a total of almost 5 years.  And that's assuming that their projections are right, that there are no further delays, that there are no complications with our referral that slow things down, or that Ethiopia doesn't temporarily shut down adoptions to pursue Hague accreditation or something.

That puts us not bringing baby girl home until fall of 2017.  That. is. so. far. away.

As I grapple with how long that wait is, I worry even more about what the future holds...first the agency closed off infant adoptions to Ethiopia (just after we applied), now they have almost doubled their projected wait time, what is next?...What if we get years into this and $16,000 later the program closes?  Then what?

We were told that in light of how recently we submitted our payment and official documents - that if we choose to that they will refund us our money.  I'm actually surprised by that, but appreciate the option.  I think.  I wouldn't know where to start with researching agencies again.  Who is ethical?  Who accepts applicants for infants?  Who is financially sound (lots of agencies have gone under over the last year)  Etc, etc.  I would likely be trading one set of problems for another to switch agencies.  Even though I'm saddened about this longer wait, if I could be guaranteed that things would work out at the end of the 5 years I would stick it out.  But that's just the thing with adoptions.  There never are guarantees.

And, saddest of all - in the meantime of all this slowdown - children need homes.  Children are being raised in institutions because of either government red tape or because of the greed of a few people/agencies (and so now everything takes longer).  The whole things is just so sad.

This is exactly the type of thing that has kept me from being open and public about us pursuing the adoption.  Yet at the same time, I wish I had someone I could talk to about this that understood.

And the rain just keeps falling.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Papers mailed!

Ta-da!  We had to have one form re-notarized (it was done incorrectly) and finish two last papers after changing home study agencies.  Then today we dropped all the papers in the mail to our agency!!!  Here I am mailing off our packet...


We also paid $4,390 in fees today which makes things feel even more official ;)  Next month we'll pay another $1,950 to our home study agency (for our home study and post placement visits), and then our next lump sum of $9,510 is due before mid-November.  As I've mentioned before, the agency fee (6K) was split between May and November instead of all in May, so November's payment sum is larger than it used to be.  I can't believe that in a short few months we'll be into this nearly $16,000...with lots more to save after that.  This is an expensive process (and kind of our focus right now), but will of course be worth it.

I'm feelin' pretty happy right now.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Notary and stuff

There is never much to tell at this stage of the process, so when something concrete happens (even if it's just something like notarizing papers) it feels worthy of documenting.  So!  On Thursday, May 16th we had all of our papers notarized!  Here is the notary going through the stacks of papers with us.  She only shook out her hand from cramping once that I saw.

Our agency recently changed their fee schedule to break up the agency fee into two payments, so when we submit these papers we'll actually pay less than we planned on now, but more than we planned on when we submit our dossier.  Worked out well for us actually.

In other news, the last paper we had to fill out to send with these papers included contact information from our "coordinating agency" - that is the local agency that will be completing our homestudy.  I sent them an email asking for that specific info (mailing address, fax number, etc) and hadn't heard back.  Since I was anxious to get our papers in the mail on Friday I called only to find out that this agency is not going to renew its license and is closing.  *sigh*  It's better to find this out now than down the road when we need to update something on our homestudy, but now we have to research another agency that is local, has 501(c)3 status, and is Hague accredited.  Then they have to agree to contract with our agency (exchange of paperwork between agencies) and THEN we can put them down on our paperwork as our coordinating agency and submit our paperwork.  It's not a major speedbump or anything, but it's still frustrating....especially since so far I've only found 3 local agencies that fit this criteria and two of them charge between $450-$650 more than the original agency we were going to use.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed on what we'll hear back from the 3rd agency.

In the meantime, our inquiry coordinator with our agency has put in a request on our behalf for another extension on our paperwork in order for us to find another agency that will contract with AGCI since we will be at their mercy with how long it takes them to process the paperwork on their end before we can put them down on our paperwork.  Blah, blah, blah.  I can't imagine anyone will actually read this post, but it's part of the process and document I must!  It just kind of took the wind out of my sails...after all those official stamps from the notary I was excited to make things official and mail off the sealed envelope with paperwork complete (for this stage anyway).  Soon enough, I suppose.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Confession

Maybe it's because of Mother's Day coming up on Sunday, but I was feeling a little bit justified in buying something that I didn't need, but really wanted.  I'm gonna share, but first let me say this - even though baby girl is still years away from coming home, I feel like the idea of her is already burrowing a space in my heart for her.  As we are only days away from making our first BIG payment for the adoption, it is becoming more real to me that we are really doing this.  It's not a someday in the future anymore, but we're in the process now.  That being said, sometimes it's a little strange when there is nothing tangible to see or feel (not that I miss the HG pregnancy that I had with Max), and there is no birthmother that we are communicating with and developing a bond with.  In fact, at this point baby girl hasn't even been conceived yet.  And yet we are already on our journey to find her. 

So!  Perhaps to celebrate our big step that we're taking this next week or so (notarizing our contracts with and paying our agency), or perhaps just to have something tangible to gaze at which reminds me of baby girl...I bought this beautiful doll: