Tuesday, March 6, 2007
My Story, Part 7: Starting the Adoption Process
While recovering from having my wisdom teeth removed, which wasn't really that bad, I spent a lot of time online and decided to check in with the adoption egroups I'm on. Suddenly, my world stood still, the breath caught in my throat, my heart skipped several beats and then started racing - I read that, as of May 1, 2007, the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA), would no longer allow single people to adopt. I went into my bedroom, knelt down and prayed to know if this meant that I wasn't supposed to adopt after all. I did not receive an answer, just a big blank.
Over the next several days, I prayed and researched. I figured if I didn't hear from God that I wasn't NOT to adopt, then I needed to proceed on what I'd last heard loud and clear, which was that my daughter is in China. I called agency and agency after agency. I think I called 8 or 10 in all and only two offered me any kind of hope, however meager, ACCEPT and Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. Both were local agencies.
ACCEPT offered to speak to their China Coordinator when she returned from China and Heartsent offered to send me an application and information for Guatamala and Vietnam and advised me to call back in the middle of January 2007 in case more married couples for China started, which would increase the number of singles they could take.
It's probably important at this point to explain to those of you reading who aren't familiar with international adoption, that each country has requirements pertaining to the selection of adoptive parents. For China, only 8% of an adoption agency's total yearly adoptions from China can be by single people. As a result, agency's generally do one of two things, have a first come, first serve waiting list, or hold a lottery of applicants once a year and compile a list of winners for the whole year.
So, realize, here I am in the middle of December, one week after most agencies have held their lotteries, needing to start immediately in order to finish the paperwork, by the CCAA deadline that would exclude singles, and I hadn't planned to start the process at all until the end of 2007!
I did continue to pray and to renew the energy I put into my faith. I refreshed my diligence in attending worship service and took a closer look at myself to make sure I was doing the best I could in all areas of my life. It paid off. On December 23, 2006, in the late evening while looking at Vietnamese adoption online, I finally heard that dearly familiar voice, ever so softly, whisper, "Your daughter is in China." I knew then that I'd somehow meet the deadline, though I hadn't a clue how.
Christmas came and went very low-key for me. My car was still at the shop, halfway through getting a new transmission. I stayed home and relaxed, spending a lot of time online, reading, etc... On Christmas night I had an urgent feeling that I should call Heartsent but the next day I didn't remember to do so. By the time I went to bed on December 26, 2006, I had a burning feeling that I NEEDED to call Heartsent right away.
First thing I did in the morning on December 27, 2006 was call Heartsent and leave a message. That evening at 6:40pm the phone rang. It was the director of the agency who I'd spoken to before. She said that over the holidays a single woman who was in their adoption program got engaged to be married and decided to pursue adopting as a married couple and that I can have her spot in the program!!!
I started shaking as the adrenaline hit full force. Then I started crying. Then I felt like I was going to throw up. I was ecstatically happy, surprised, relieved, shocked, and so much more, but I was "IN". I was told to call Heartsent on January 2, 2007 and make an immediate appointment.
At 4pm on Thursday, January 4, 2007 I stepped into Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. for the first time. I met with the director "V." and China coordinator "A." and received a large, well-organized binder of the paperwork I needed to start doing immediately. Both V. and A. were friendly, efficient, welcoming, and very excited for me. I left there in a daze of joy.
During this week, my 94 year-old grandmother was visiting me and I didn't tell her what was going on. I didn't want her to start telling others since I know she can't keep a secret. On Fri. my grandmother was staying overnight with a friend, so I took advantage and started the first thing on my paperwork list that I could and ordered the necessary certified copies of my birth certificate and went to my local police station to get fingerprinted and start the backgroup check for my homestudy.
I was on my way at warp speed.
As of today, I am completely finished with all the paperwork. I am waiting for a form called the I-171-H which comes from the U.S. government office pertaining to immigration. It's the form giving me permission to bring a foreign orphan into the country. Once it arrives, all my paperwork, called the dossier, will be taken to the California Secretary of State and be certified, then it's taken to the Chinese Embassy to be authenticated. Finally, it's sent to China.