When we first started to talk about a family, we both agreed that we would like to have two or three children and at least one child would be adopted. We both felt very strongly from the beginning that adoption was just another way to have a family. Neither of us was particularly caught up with the idea of having biological children since the concept of passing on our genes plays such a minor role in the big world of raising a child and being a family.
After trying to conceive naturally for almost two years we came to the conclusion that now was the time for us to adopt. We had no intentions of going any further in fertility testing since adoption was in the plan from the start. After doing research, we decided fairly quickly that international adoption was for us. The domestic adoption system is too uncertain and unstable for our liking. The time frame was not even close to being definite, as you had to be selected by a birth mother and basically advertise yourselves. We just wanted to start a family and we were not interested in an open adoption where the birth parents would still have privileges to our child. Based on the research, we knew that we would both feel more comfortable with adopting internationally.
We both really felt that given the choice we would like to have a baby girl, and being as there were so many baby girls in need of loving homes in Chinese orphanages, it pointed us in the direction of adopting from China. After researching China's specifications and guidelines for adoptive parents, we found that we fit the bill! Once China had showed itself to us we dove right into researching China's adoption program and adoption agencies.
The agency selection process took several months as we were attending informational meetings given by the agency to effectively interview them. During this process we actually became pregnant and this really threw us for a loop. We were completely elated with this news and felt it was meant to be. Two months later Christy miscarried, and although extremely emotional and sad, this once again gave us the sign that adoption was truly the right path for us. Within four months we had decided on Holt International Children's Services as our adoption agency.
In April 2004 we filed an application with our adoption agency and by June we were in full adoption mode. We had a social worker come to our home for two sessions, resulting in a glowing recommendation for a child placement. We then attended parenting classes given by our agency where we were educated in adoptive parenting and becoming a multi-racial/cultural family.
The paperwork process at times seemed overwhelming, but we trudged through. For adoption in China you are required to put together a dossier of all your vital documents, medical reports from your physician, employment reports, financials, specific adoption related forms etc. Then each document in this package, of which there were 14, needed to be notarized locally, state certified at the Department of State and then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate. Needless to say this part of the process was extremely tedious and stressful. At the same time we had to prepare her citizenship paperwork with the USCIS (INS) and get our FBI fingerprint clearance to enable that processing to go through. The final stage in the paperchase was to get her Citizenship clearance, and supply this, and the completed Dossier to our agency for review. We passed agency review with flying colors and our documents were sent to China. October 22nd is our official DTC (Documents to China) date.
The DTC is significant in the world of China adoption for a few reasons. Firstly, the rest of the process is tracked by this date. Currently the referral time, the time between your DTC and you getting matched with a child, is about 6 to 8 months. This referral wait also changes as months pass, so it may end up being longer or shorter based on how fast things are moving at the CCAA (the central agency in China that handles all adoptions). Once you are assigned a DTC you can also reach out through Internet groups to others with the same DTC from all over the world. These will be the people that will be traveling to China to get their children at the same time as us. Therefore, we have been able to make friends with people who are at the exact same point in the process and whose children will be adopted at the same time. Having the support of these people has been what has gotten us through the trials and tribulations of this process. We would not have made it without them and for this we are forever grateful.
Once our referral comes in we will receive a photo and medical report on our child. She will have a Chinese name and could be anywhere between 6-18 months old. To answer a popular question, we will not know who her birth parents are. At this point we will then also know which province in China we will be traveling to. We will accept the child officially in writing and start preparing for travel, which will be anywhere between 6-9 weeks after we receive the referral.
We plan on spending three weeks in China. We will arrive early to do some sightseeing in Beijing. We will have orientation in Beijing where we will meet all those fellow Holt October DTCers. Then we will travel to the child's province where we will receive our baby girl pretty much immediately upon arrival. We will be spending one week in her province to finalize the adoption and then we will travel to Guangzhou. Guangzhou is where the US Consulate is and we will have to spend a week there getting her visas to travel back to the US as a citizen of the United States.
So as it stands right now we are just waiting for that referral and we hope that it will be very soon. This wait has been the hardest part as she is already born and either living in an institution in China, or with her foster family. She is born in our hearts and we just know that she will be well cared for by her caretakers until we can bring her home to her forever family. Every day that passes we are closer to being with our baby girl.
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined
to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
The red thread may stretch or tangle but will never break."
-- Ancient Chinese Belief