Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Life/Culture/Travel: China, Here We Come (Eventually)

Rene:

I’ve been reminded that these tin cans work both ways on the end of a very long string, so today I’m breaking my listen-only mode.

Today is a milestone of sorts for The Other Half and I. We just sent a completed packet to Holt International Children’s Services in Eugene, Oregon, for what is the last US-based step in the international adoption process. Next stop for the dossier: China.

It was in January that we sent our initial application to the agency. We started compiling our dossier in February (physicals were first up), and we received the authenticated dossier materials back from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago on Monday. We did each step as soon as we were eligible to, so five or six months would almost seem to be the minimum. We had hoped to get everything done in four months, but some things just take time. Getting a key form back from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service took exactly seven weeks on its own.

One complicating factor that ended up being not so complicated after all was getting an original of my birth certificate. I was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and my birth certificate was on file with a territorial government that no longer exists. As it turns out, the U.S. State Department is the custodian of the old Canal Zone files, so the birth certificate I received bears the signature of Condoleezza Rice and had to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC.

The Other Half was frustrated by the dossier process – we were fingerprinted by multiple agencies on separate occasions, had to be approved by our social worker and the state as fit to adopt, and were required to explicitly relate our financial situation, among many other things – but to me, this process was not unnerving, because I understood why most steps were necessary, and we still had some degree of control. Now that the paperwork is out of our hands, the waiting begins (it’s estimated that we will receive a referral in 11-12 months, traveling 6-9 weeks later for 10-12 days). Waiting will be the hard part for me.

As you know, my siblings were adopted from South Korea (my brother in the mid ‘70s, my sister in the early ‘80s). I suppose that gives us some advantage in familiarity with the process and integrating our family, but there are many unknowns ahead. We are trying to prepare ourselves to be the best parents we can be for our daughter, who may already be living in a provincial orphanage somewhere in China. We took a parental preparation class that Holt offers (actually requires, which is a good thing) for adoptive families, are continuing to read books and articles about international adoption. We’ve also started getting serious about cultural education, hungrily reading and watching anything we can about Chinese history and daily life in modern China. Our DVR is getting cluttered with cultural shows recorded off CCTV-9. If readers have any recommendations for us, please pass them along!

I pledge to resume posting on other, non-adoption-related topics. If you’re interested, I will post updates on our journey, but fear not: Two Tin Cans will not become a de facto adoption blog….

Take care,
Kari

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