Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our I-800A Is Approved

We found out Friday that our I-800A has been approved and has been placed in the mail to us! We are so excited!

Once we get the notice, we'll take it to a notary to make a certified copy for us. Then we'll go to Tallahassee to get the certified copy apostilled, since that is where apostilles are issued in Florida. Then our dossier will be complete and we can begin the approval process in Mexico.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where we are

Our original plan for this month was to apostille our dossier and send it to our agency to review. Then they were going to forward it to the translator in Mexico to get a head start on that while we were awaiting CIS approval.

But then we decided to change a document in our dossier, and we needed to wait for the new document to get in order. A change that seemed simple ended up taking more effort than expected. Right around that time, we discovered that our I-800A paperwork was being processed by the CIS, more than a month earlier than we expected. So, we ended up holding off on sending our file to the translator, and now we may as well wait until we have the approval to complete our dossier.

We have not yet been issued our approval from the CIS, but we're getting very close. There was a bit of a delay due to P being naturalized, rather than having been born in the US. Because of that, the CIS had to order his US immigration file to be retrieved from storage and sent to them to review before they are able to issue an approval. This is standard procedure. It adds a little more time to the approval process, but that's OK. We found out today that the CIS has just received the file.

In the meantime, the CIS has reviewed our paperwork. They informed us that there needs to be a minor addition of language to our homestudy. Our agency is putting that together now and will be forwarding it to the CIS. Very very soon the CIS will have everything they need to make their ruling.

So, despite changing the order of things we did this month, we are making great progress! Day by day, step by step, we are getting there.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Support During the Adoption Process

"Dreams Come True: Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them." - John Updike
Hang in there and don't lose hope!!

"We will keep praying. In the meantime, try to think positive thoughts!"

"That's fantastic!"

"I'm very excited for you two!"

"I'm praying that you are just paranoid. Have faith." - out of context that sounds so funny!!! You had to be there... it's actually very sweet!

"[I] hope it's an all clear!"


"I'm all worked up just reading about this!!"

"What a relief!"

"How frustrating!"

"Hey, that's a snag in your favor!"

"[name withheld] told us all to pray for you because of what you are going through... we are all praying this problem can be fixed..."

"Please know that we are all pulling for the four of you, and we are only a computer or phone call away"

"I'm sorry. What can I do to help?"

"Hopefully this will be the last confusing thing you have to do!"

All of the above are words of support we received just in the last few days. (They are not listed in order received). And it doesn't even come close to listing all of them. This process is quite a roller coaster with so many ups and downs. It is so very comforting to have the support our friends and family. They are helping so much by being so amazingly supportive and on top of things! We are grateful!
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Update on our I-800A

Wow, I am here to testify that federal employees do work on inauguration day. I found out today that our I-800A was assigned an agent and is scheduled to be reviewed this week! I had heard that they were starting to shorten their processing time lines, but I hadn't heard estimates on the wait being this improved. Our log in date was November 25, and I found out 56 days later that our file is about to be reviewed. Although technically we were assigned our agent three days ago, but it was a holiday weekend, so our file reached the agent's desk today. Anyway, that's way shorter than the original time frame of 90 days! Way to go CIS!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Learning and Reading About Adoption

As anyone who has gone through this process knows, there is a lot of waiting and a lot of unknown time lines. So, one thing we have been doing to make good use of this time is to try to learn as much as possible about adoption and parenting. Talking with others who have adopted or with adoptees is an excellent way to get first-hand advice and find out what to very realistically expect.

On the Internet, there are countless blogs that share a remarkable amount of candid experiences, there are forums and online groups to join, and there are also many articles and avenues for research. As a part of the Hague guidelines, we had to take Hague Compliant parenting classes, which we were able to take online. The online videos we watched covered a wide range of topics: grief and loss, the institutionalized child, attachment and bonding, sensory integration, facilitating behavior change, medical issues in international adoption, and child development. There were also classes that were country-specific, although there were none for Mexico.

We have also been reading as many books as we can find. Our local library system has quite a nice collection of adoption specific titles. We have been checking them out and reading them one by one. We aren't done reading all of them but have read a fair share. We are starting to buy our favorites to always have on hand at home.

One of the concepts that stands out in our research is that traditional parenting techniques can often be counterproductive when applied to internationally adopted children. For example, time-outs are generally not recommended as a discipline strategy. Another interesting concept is family age verses chronological age. It is absolutely normal for internationally adopted children to at times revert to the behavior of someone of a much younger chronological age, especially during times of stress. The behavior they will revert to is sometimes more in line with the number of months or years they have been a part of their new family. As they grow and become more comfortable and feel safe with their new family, they will need help building new skills, referred to as family skills, instead of relying completely on their survival coping skills.

But we are very realistic about it. We know that we can read all of the books in the world, and it will never truly prepare us for what lies ahead. Books can never replace first hand experience. Reading about tantrums is not the same as experiencing them! And we have heard from many families that they have had to pick and choose what advice to take from the books they read or to even ignore it completely. Not every strategy or concept works for or applies to every family. At the very least we are getting exposed to new ways to look at things and to possibilities we wouldn't know about otherwise. So we'll just have to wait and see what works for our family.

Of the books we have read so far, the ones that we felt opened our eyes the most and gave the most practical and useful tips were the following. We are sure that we will be finding more books that we will want to add to this list, since there are many titles on our To Read list that we haven't even read yet!

1. The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, by Karyn B. Purvis, Ph.D., David R. Cross, Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. 2007.

  • Dr. Purvis led the online courses we watched. The book really helps to reinforce the concepts in the videos. Dr. Purvis is affiliated with Texas Christian University's Institute for Child Development.
  • Here are some online articles to which she has contributed which talk about some of the concepts in the videos and book.

  • This book is like a textbook for international adoption, in a good way. Plus, it has so many practical tips, from games to play and songs to sing to help with attaching and many many anecdotes to learn from. It overlaps many of the same concepts as the first book, but gives even more details to reinforce them.
  • Here are some online articles that Patty Cogen has written.

  • A lot of people criticize this book for being negative. We have read some books that are so negative that they have caused us nightmares. This was not one of them, in our experience. We see the book as a valuable insight into how an adopted child *might* perceive things. No one person or book can speak for everyone who has been adopted. Not all adopted children will feel the same way. We know that.
  • Here is an interview with Sherrie Eldridge conducted by Dawn Davenport who hosts a weekly pod cast (Internet radio show) on a wide variety of themes related to adoption.
Since this posting is already very long, perhaps we will post another entry in the future of other books or articles we have found helpful.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Latest on our Dossier

Our dossier is very close to being in order. Our agency's contact in Mexico recently met with the DIF and was able to find out exactly what is needed for the dossier for the particular state where we intend to submit our paperwork. It turns out we already have everything we need. There was no special application form needed. We are going to make a minor change in the wording in one document, and I found out that another document needs a slight change in the way it was notarized. Once those changes are made we will most likely drive to Tallahassee to get our dossier documents that originated in Florida apostilled in person while we wait at the Department of State. Good excuse for a road trip! All of our documents that originated outside of Florida have already been apostilled in their respective states.

I also found out that the CIS Hague Unit has hired additional staff due receiving a much larger number of filings every single month than they expected since April 1. The CIS could possibly now process the I-800A approvals in under 90 days. We weren't expecting our approval until around February 23, so if we do get it sooner than that it will be very good news!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Contacting Us

We are very excited that we have received comments from other families who are also adopting in Mexico! It truly helps us to feel like we are not alone. Our goal in starting this blog was to connect with and share vital information with others. The adoption process can be very long and complicated and so very emotional! So it really helps to hear from others who are going through or have gone through this. Plus, from time to time, we all need moral support and encouragement! So we have decided to post an email address on our sidebar in case anyone who is adopting in Mexico would like to contact us privately. For those of you reading our blog through Google Reader or another such service, please visit our actual blog to find the email address. We hope that we will meet many wonderful friends through this blog!

Also, if anyone has a blog about their Mexico adoption experience, please share it with us so we can follow your journey! If you would like us to post the link on our sidebar, let us know. Otherwise, we will not.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Authenticating and Translating Dossier

The only item we don't have yet for our Mexico Dossier is our application to the DIF of the state in Mexico where we intend to complete the adoption. Our agency is getting it for us, and we should have it in the near future. We aren't sure if we have to get the application notarized or not.
So in the meantime we are starting to get the rest of our dossier documents authenticated. Since Mexico and the US are both Hague Convention countries, all of the documents submitted to Mexico must be authenticated with an Apostille in order to be recognized by the Mexican government. An apostille is generally issued by the Secretary of State's office of the state where the document originated in the case of documents like birth certificates. If the document is notarized it gets apostilled in the state where the Notary Public has a commission. That meant that we had to send some of our documents to other states to get them apostilled. We are finding that the cost varies considerably for this. Some states don't charge anything, others charge a dollar per document, while Florida charges $10 per document! We have over 15 dossier documents that originated in Florida, so those fees are starting to add up quickly!

Since P was born in Mexico, his birth certificate does not need to have an apostille for the dossier, since it originated in Mexico. We were able to avoid needing to use his birth certificate in our paperwork that was submitted to the US Government by sending them his US Naturalization Certificate instead of his birth certificate, as that was an option. That also helped us avoid having to have anything translated for the US Government.

Speaking of translations, the reason we are starting to get our dossier authenticated right now is so that we can send it to a certified translator in Mexico City to get everything translated into Spanish. We figure that with the time it will take to get our dossier completed, authenticated, sent to our agency for a final review and then sent to Mexico and translated, it will coincide relatively closely to when we anticipate receiving our CIS approval. Then there will hopefully be no delays in submitting our paperwork to the Mexican authorities to start our approval process there.