Tuesday, April 3, 2012

If you're even pondering international adoption, read this.

I asked wonderful Heidi, who is working to bring home Peter from oversees, if she would outline the basics that one would need to know if one is beginning to think about international adoption. Here is her primer! I am learning so much, and I hope you are, too:


Have you been reading a ton of orphan posts and blogs recently?

Have you found yourself wondering if you are being called to adopt one of these precious faces?

Are you positive that you are going to adopt -- someday -- but know that today is not the right time?

That’s where we were, until this past fall. We’d experienced a very scary pregnancy and delivery of our third child. During this pregnancy (and the two previous ones), my body had given us a reason for concern: My blood pressure did not behave like it was supposed to.  The third time around involved bed rest after delivering our beautiful baby boy (yes, after delivery), panicked trips to the emergency room, medication cocktails for weeks -- and a near certainty that it would happen again, very possibly much worse. Let’s just say science and statistics were not on our side at this point.

But one thing was clear to us: Our family was not complete. Up until this point, we’d never really considered adoption as a means of growing our family, but now we knew that adoption would most likely be in our future. I started researching – asking friends (adoptive and non-adoptive families), surfing the internet, reading books, etc. That’s when I was told about Reece’s Rainbow…and promptly fell in love.

We knew that we might be moving between states within a few years, due to my husband’s job, so we held off contacting adoption agencies; however, on the advice of a very brilliant friend (also an adoptive mother), we decided to get ourselves ready to adopt…some day….

So what does that mean, anyway?

Different regions and countries require different things, different home studies, different fees. How can you possibly get yourself ready for something if you don’t know what is going to be required of you?

Well, believe it or not, there are some common requirements in most home studies, things which most countries require of adoptive parents, so why not go ahead and do those things now? Getting it done now will help speed the process along once you fall in love with your child’s picture and don’t want to delay the process in any way. Early preparation has the added benefit of spreading some costs out over time. Adoption is a costly process, and every little requirement has a fee attached. Spreading out some of these fees over time (and maybe over tax refund seasons!) really helped us.

Our wise friend walked us through the items that we could prepare in advance, and here's what we learned:

You’ll want to collect any and all official documents that you have been issued. Our agency recommended that we have three official copies of these documents. Start ordering those now: You’ll want three copies of birth certificates for anyone in your house, marriage licenses, divorce licenses (if applicable), and previous adoption decrees. We also had to produce official college transcripts for those of us who had attended college, as well as recent tax returns. Start a file with important documents, and make sure you put it somewhere safe (not so safe that you lose it, though!).

Go through your house. Part of your home study will require an inspection of your home.  When the social worker inspects your home, she’ll have a specific list of requirements from your child's region, but there are still some basics that you can prepare for. Make sure pools have fences around them, windows and doors have safety locks, medications are in a locked container (ours had to have an actual lock on it – a medicine cabinet wasn’t good enough). There must be fire extinguishers and working smoke detectors are on every level of the house, and if you have firearms, make sure they are in a gun safe with a place to lock ammunition, separate from that gun safe.

Everyone in your house will need to be up-to-date on vaccinations and physicals. Believe me, you don’t want to find out that something is wrong with your health when you are in the midst of a home study. Make sure you have that relationship with a physician before your home study begins.

This also includes all of your four-legged family members – they will need a veterinarian’s clearance and proof of their vaccinations. It’d be best to have these relationships established before the massive amount of paperwork begins.

You’ll need to be able to produce every address where you’ve lived after the age of 18. This was a question that stumped both my husband and me. We were typical college students,  moving from rental to rental every year in college. Trying to recall addresses was a challenge!

With international adoption, you will need a passport to travel to your child. Why not get it now? When you are able to move forward with an adoption, the last thing you want to do is wait around for your passport to come in the mail! Get it done now!

I know, I know, these things that I’ve listed seem silly, almost mundane, really. But believe me, when it is time for you to make that phone call and set up your home study, you will be thankful that you had this all prepared! You’ll be able to pull out your “adoption file” (or in our case, adoption BOX) when you first meet with your social worker, and have the immense pleasure of checking off one item on the list after another.

That satisfaction will be worth it. I promise!!

*Update: There are more helpful questions and answers in the comment section, about immunizations, how to find your past addresses, etc. Check it out!


Thank you, Heidi! And don't forget to check our her month-long daily silent auction to help bring Peter home

One more item. I just found out that Meg at True, Good, and Beautiful is doing a matching grant drive for Justin!


Here's what Meg said:
Ryan and I just love little Justin! We are praying about him for our own family, but in the meantime, we want to do something during Holy Week to help him, especially if we are not meant to be his mom and dad. So, following suit with some amazing bloggers, we are starting a...
Holy Week Almsgiving Challenge! 
We are going to match each donation that Justin receives in his Reece's Rainbow account.  We have a limit, but it is enough to get him well into to the sizeable grants page.  He is starting out with $1205.50 (some folks out there already love him just like we do!)  Let's get him over $2500!  
Can you spare him $5? Or even $3? Five dollars will turn into ten dollars, just like that! And three dollars will turn into six! I donated some of my birthday money, and I hope you might be moved to throw in a few bucks as well. Or, share Meg's link on your own blog or facebook. That's how we save these children, one at a time.



  1. Heidi - regarding vaccinations, what if you refuse certain vaccines for religious reasons? Will they still let you adopt?

  2. Very good! I wonder what you can do if you have serious objections to vaccines though.... :-(

  3. We just had to give them our immunization reports, but there were no specific requirements asked of us for different vaccines, they just wanted any and all records that we had. (Remember: this is Hong Kong, other countries might have different requirements). We delay vaccines, but end up getting fully vaccinated, so it wasn't really a concern for us. An adoption agency would probably be able to help you more with different country requirements. Good question! I'm sorry I don't have more of an answer!! Or...you could all just adopt from Hong Kong. haha

  4. 3 of each? Geez. Yay for Heidi. Thanks for the good ideas. This is what I planned to do to get ready. That way, once Kyle is on board we can jump. ;)

  5. official documents need to be 'apostille' stamped- this is MORE than normal

  6. Priest's wife, can you explain? Is that done after the home study? Meaning, it doesn't have to be done at the same time that the documents get requested (like birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.)? I actually don't even know what the word 'apostille' means, though I have heard it a lot lately. :)

  7. Hong Kong doesn't require that for the home study. It might depend on country, maybe?

  8. It looks like most states have a way of getting an apostille certifications added to an existing birth certificate. (I looked at the states that we had to request certificates from : CA, ME, and MI). So, you could order them as is, and add that later.

    An apostille is additional certifications of the signatures on the document. Some Hague accreditation countries require it before they will accept a document from another country. HTH!

  9. Just saw the questions regarding vaccines and was wondering the exact same thing.

    Thanks for this overview.

  10. I also moved a lot during and after college. How was I ever going to remember all those addresses for our home study?

    However, I discovered you can can see all of your past addresses on your credit report! It's great! You can order a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com

  11. Sarah, I was wondering about that! Perfect solution!

  12. Leila, Perhaps we need to advocate for Duncan. He will be 16 in June and sent to the street. He believes that no one wants him.


  13. He does have a family but read his profile it is very touching.

  14. Chantal, I love Duncan! I was so thrilled when a family stepped forward to adopt him (and Sam). I've been following the family's blog and I am praying for them. They are heroes. I am so happy for Duncan and so relieved. :)

    You can follow the progress, here:


  15. OMG, I had no idea that the Mortons were adopting Duncan too. I thought they discerned out of it! I just donated to them and I hope I made it in their matching campaign (that ends Wed...it is still Wed where I live!) That just about made my day. Besides this little update: http://truegoodandbeautifullife.blogspot.com/2012/04/holy-smokes.html

  16. Meg, I know! Isn't it incredible?? I am so happy for Duncan and Sam. What a family! Thank you for donating! And, wow about Justin! I just know you are going to get him into the sizeable grants! :)

  17. Great info. Now just gotta pray and discern - maybe someday we'll adopt!

  18. If we could all do some matching funds through the year that would be awesome. Your blog is going to reach so many eyes and hearts:)

  19. Mike and I are tempted to match funds for someone later this year - we just need to see what's going to happen with our house in Maine first (The tenants are not renewing the lease after this coming spring, so we're trying to figure out if we are going to list it or re-rent it and what that means for our budget!

    If the auction is does well, maybe we can use our tithing from those funds to match donations for another sweetie!

  20. Heidi, we need to make sure you are fully funded for Peter! That is the priority. You are so generous to be thinking of others now at this time! :)

    How much more funds do you need?

  21. We're about halfway there right now. Total cost should be around $15,000 and we've got just under $8,000. But we also have a lot longer to raise the funds over than Eli and Charles do (we'll have about a year once our dossier is accepted, which probably won't be at least another two months, because Arizona is running 4-6 months on courts approving home studies). We'll have one trip - and not until that year is up. Charles and Eli need some of that money much, much sooner (like this July).

    Besides, we committed when we started fundraising that we would donate 10% back to another child with every fundraiser we did. If we use it to match donations, it'd be like doubling our tithe!

    AND, we have a pretty awesome fundraising opportunity coming up in a couple of months. Let's just say a pretty well-known Catholic musician doing a benefit concert. :-)

  22. I just learned from my own inquiries that the certified copies of docs need to be dated within 6 months of submitting your dossier. This includes the date the doc was issued and received notary as well as apostilled. This applies to all of the dossier docs, including homestudy, fingerprints, etc At least this is how it is for Ukraine (not a Hague convention country, btw). So, if you're gathering that paperwork, be sure to check on a country's req's if you have one in mind and don't do it too far in advance (as I would tend to do, just so I can be ready at the drop of a hat!) :)

  23. Oh, Meg, interesting!!!! Thank you!!! Important to know!