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Monday, May 25, 2015

USCIS Approval!

Hello! We hope you're having a relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. 

We have a BIG news to share with everyone and are thrilled to have such a significant update... 


That's right... I'll say it again... 


On Friday, we received our approval in the mail and are ECSTATIC! This approval is the last (and most important) piece of our dossier and we've been waiting for weeks for this short little piece of mail to show up in our mailbox. 

Yes, I took a picture of the approval. :) YAYAYAY!!!

The USCIS approval is, in short, the U.S. government deeming us suitable to adopt up to three children from Eastern Europe. It's a bit of a process to obtain this approval. You have to have a completed home study, then you submit the application to the government, then they send you an appointment time to go have more fingerprints done at the USCIS office (think BMV type of place with armed guards and metal detectors... including grumpy people and few smiles), then you wait for the approval letter to come. This can take anywhere from 1-4 months, so while we knew the approval could come at any time, we didn't really have a good idea of when that would be. We submitted the application on 4/4, had our appointment for fingerprints a couple weeks later, and got the approval letter on 5/22. We are so thankful to have been on the shorter end of the approximate time frame! Like we said in our last post, obtaining this approval is one of the last steps to getting our dossier across the ocean, so we're excited to be one step closer to that day!

While we've been waiting on our USCIS approval, we've been busy preparing the rest of our dossier, which includes a lot of additional paperwork, medical approvals, education documentation, etc. We have everything ready to go now that we have our USCIS approval, so we're ready for the final steps of preparing our dossier. This will include having everything notarized and apostilled. Both of those steps should just take a couple of days, then we just have to check off our final FBI background checks and it'll all be mailed to Eastern Europe. Once the dossier is in Eastern Europe, it'll take approximately 8 weeks to be translated, then we'll go on the registry in that country to be matched with our children. 
Organizing dossier paperwork.

The last handful of weeks have been exciting in more ways than just approvals and paperwork mania. We completed our adoption education and also attended an open house with our adoption agency for families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from our country in Eastern Europe. 

The adoption education was super helpful and interesting for us. We loved hearing from other adoptive families about their journeys and the trials and triumphs during their children's first months of life in the U.S. We learned a lot about what to focus on and what unique needs our children will have being that they will come from another country, culture, and environment. We learned techniques for parenting that we will carry with us and work to implement with our children. We know we still have a lot to learn, but are thankful for the education we have been provided from our agency and are anxious to keep learning more. We plan to re-read the information our agency gave us at least once, and also take suggestions and read recommendations from family friends of us ours that have adopted internationally. 

The open house that our adoption agency hosted was for all families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from the country we have chosen in Eastern Europe. We were nervous to go as we really didn't know anyone, but were very excited to connect with others along this journey. It was the BEST day! We got there and immediately sat down with a family that we spent the rest of the afternoon talking with. They brought two of their five children (boy/girl siblings) home about nine months ago and we absolutely loved hearing all about their journey. We pummeled them with questions for two hours straight :). We talked with their kids, as well as several other children who have come home, over the course of the afternoon. We asked everything from how the children were handling the transition emotionally, physically, etc., to how the food was when they traveled. The couple we talked with were so willing to address every anxiety we had and so joyfully shared their adoption story. We learned about the discrimination against the children that this couple witnessed first-hand when visiting and picking their children up to come home. We learned about the language barriers (we were so impressed that in nine months of being home, the children spoke nearly perfect English), the educational differences, the social difficulties, etc. 
We left feeling so encouraged and (we didn't even know this was possible) even MORE sure this is the absolute definite path we are meant to be on. We know our children are chosen and we cannot wait to be united with them as a family. We are looking forward to going to an open house in the future and introducing our children to a nervous couple embarking on this journey. 

Thank you for walking this journey with us. It is so exciting to share these updates with an incredible team of supporters - we are so blessed and so thankful!

Scott and Mary