Biometrics

Biometrics (n): 1. The statistical study of biological phenomena. 2. The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns, for use in verifying the identity of individuals. 3. A process that takes you to a USCIS (formerly INS) office and makes you wait in line.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and that’s mainly because all I’ve been doing has been gathering, notarizing and Apostilling papers. Trust me when I tell you that it would not make for very compelling reading. That being said, the fact that we’re nearly done gathering all of the papers only 3 months after going to our first orientation meeting means that we’ve made very good time.

Last week we received our “invitation” to come downtown to be fingerprinted at the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) office. It’s a good thing that we live in a major metropolitan area. I could only imagine how miserable it must be to have to drive hours to interact with state and federal government offices for all of the papers needed for this process. We managed to make it in, get digitally fingerprinted, and get out in under an hour. It’s a little creepy knowing that our fingerprints are now likely part of some giant government database.

We also managed to get over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Secretary of State office to drop off another stack of notarized documents for Apostille certification. I think that the Commonwealth managed to get nearly $300 out of us in the process. FedEx is another beneficiary of the adoption process. Tomorrow I’ll send out this stack of papers and then we wait. We’re waiting for two things, mainly: first for USCIS to process our I-600A form (”Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition”). Hopefully this won’t take too long, but it can take as long as 3 months. The USCIS should send us an I-171H form (”Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petitions”). With this in hand, we’re approved to bring up to two orphan children into the US. While we’re waiting for this, our agency will be having all of our paperwork translated into Russian (I assume).

Once we receive the I-171H, we have that notarized and Apostilled (of course), and then that will complete our dossier. Once the translation is done, the whole thing is sent to Kazakhstan and then we wait some more.

There probably won’t be much to write about here until things move along a little, but I figured now would be just as good a time as any to update our progress.

Paperwork Part Deux

I was pretty proud of us.

We managed to get through the home study and its paperwork in under 6 weeks. I thought we were cruising along. I also thought that when our social worker referred to our dossier she was referring to the paperwork generated from the homestudy.

For those of you not in the know about this adoption thing, the homestudy is a social-worker driven process that evaluates your home and yourselves to determine whether you are fit to adopt a child. It was no small feat. We were told that it can take several months to complete. There’s a goodly amount of paperwork involved including:

  • An application
  • A contract with the home study agency
  • Three notarized letters of reference
  • Acknowledgement of their grievance and appeals procedure
  • Medical insurance information indicating that your carrier will cover your adopted child
  • Notarized medical reports for both of us
  • Criminal record checks
  • Department of Social Service central registry checks
  • A long autobiography statement from each of us, please a lengthy statement from us as a couple
  • Our tax return from last year
  • Acknowledgement of “risk”
  • Assignment of guardianship
  • Acknowledgement that we won’t employ physical discipline and that we don’t own guns
  • Acknowledgement of our “client rights”
  • Copies of our birth certificates and marriage license
  • A “child acceptance sheet” where you indicate what physical ailments or defects you’d be willing to accept
  • An international country agreement where you choose your country
  • Photos of us
  • Photos of the home
  • Three visits with the social worker

I thought that this was all we needed I was wrong.

Libby, the woman who heads up the Kazakhstan program for MAPS e-mailed me the paperwork requirements for the dossier. I almost had a stroke.

Here’s the homework for the month of March:

  1. Two sets of photographs of everyone living in the house, as well as photos of the outside and inside of the home.
  2. The completed home study.
  3. A summary of the completed home study.
  4. Copies of the home study agency license.
  5. Copies of the home study social worker’s license.
  6. Letters from our employers acknowledging that we have jobs and what are salaries are.
  7. Detailed financial information and housing description.
  8. Letters from our banks verifying the contents of our accounts.
  9. Detailed medical reports for each parent.
  10. Copies of the license of the physician providing the medical reports.
  11. Letters from a psychologist attesting to our coping skills.
  12. Copies of the license of the psychologist attesting to our coping skills.
  13. Six certified copies of our marriage license (what are they going to do with six of these ?!)
  14. Statements assigning guardianship in case something happens to us.
  15. Statements accepting assignment of guardianship by the people we designate.
  16. Six copies of our passports.
  17. Letters from our mortgage company confirming ownership of our property.
  18. An adoption placement agreement.
  19. A post-placement requirement agreement.
  20. An acknowledgement of our post-placement obligations.
  21. Registration with the Kazakh consulate.
  22. Clearance from our local police department.
  23. Clearance from the FBI (via fingerprinting).
  24. Approval from the INS.
  25. Power of attorney for the adoption agency’s agent in Kazakhstan.

All of these are done in at least duplicate, each copy notarized, and each notarized copy has to be Apostille certified. I had no idea what this was until this week.  Apparently an Apostille is an acknowledgement that the notary has been designated competent to issue certifications.

Welcome!

Welcome! This blog is more for our friends and families than anything else. Julie and I are just at the beginning of the adoption process, and we figured that this will be a good way for us to be able to keep people informed as to what is going on.

After a great deal of thought, discussion and introspection, we decided that we’re ready to expand our family beyond the two of us and Satchel, Milo, and Victoria. Much as well love the three cats, they don’t say much, and have limited potential for cognitive development. Especially Milo.

For a number of reasons, we both feel that international adoption is the right choice, and after considering a variety of other countries (China, Nepal and Guatemala), we’ve decided on Kazakhstan. As I like to tell people: It’s the new China. We’re about 7/8 of the way through the paperwork and the home study, and if all goes well, we’ll be submitting our INS paperwork next month.

We’ll keep you posted as to the important details as they arise. Meanwhile, enjoy the stories of other families who have adopted from Kazakhstan, listed in the Blogroll on the right side of the page.

And please, no Borat jokes.