Adoption is not for the faint of heart. Navigating the twists and turns that you expect to encounter sounds relatively straight-forward at the onset. You figure you’ll gather this form and that form, find a few people to say nice things about you, get some fingerprints, pay a few fees, wait awhile and, voila, parenthood. You expect there’ll be a lot to track and do, but that it will be doable nonetheless. Anyone who has been down the road to adoption, particularly international adoption in a “post-Hague Convention” world, knows that the reality is something else altogether. Not to mention traveling this path while trying to retain some sanity.
This week we reached another fork in the road. Our agency informed us that while things are still moving in Armenia, they are moving very slowly. Emphasis on very. Since implementation of The Hague Convention, which sets forth guidelines and procedures to prevent abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children, international adoption has slowed to a snail’s pace. We hear that adoptions in China are now taking 37 months, after dossier submission. The U.S. has closed the door, indefinitely, for several countries that are not “Hague-compliant,” such as Guatemala and Vietnam .
We were proud to choose a country that is Hague-compliant and happy to find a reputable agency that is also Hague-accredited. But I will tell you that it has been a wild ride.
International home studies required child abuse clearances from each state we’d lived in, which between Big Papa and I was nine. Hague was newly implemented in April, and states were changing policies right and left. We filed and re-filed our California clearances three times. Colorado returned Big Papa’s clearance, along with the check for $15 he’d written on August 15. They had raised their fee to $30…on August 15!
Then, just as I was about to send our home study to USCIS (U.S. Center for Immigration Service) along with our I-800a (U.S. government for permission to adopt an international orphan), I noticed our home study agency’s notary had a nearly expired license. Two more weeks passed before finding a notary whose license would be good for at least six months, and our home study was revised and reprinted. Pre-Hague, waiting times for I-800a approval had been 30 days. We began hearing that I-800s were being rejected for a multitude of revisions needed, and the process was taking upwards of four months. Submitting ours with a notary whose license might expire in that time period would not be a wise step.
Now that we’ve learned that the process is going to take longer than we first thought, what do we do? Cross our fingers and hope that this will be one long hiccup but we’ll still “get there?” Abandon Armenia and try for another country that our agency represents? Change our parameters for the type of child we’ll consider? My head is swimming with questions and uncertainty.
“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”