10 Million Minus 1
After months of praying and allowing the Lord to lead us, we are now pursuing an international adoption from (drumroll, please......) INDIA! We are excited and nervous and hopeful all at the same time! Even if we didn't see this coming, we know it did not take God by surprise, and we believe it's all part of His plan for us. Ethiopia will always be a part of our hearts, but we now believe our son is waiting for us a little further to the east, in India. We might have taken the longest, most expensive route possible to get to him, but we have no doubt that it will all be worth it. (If you are wondering why we transferred from Ethiopia, be sure to read our previous update: Detour.)
India has about 3 times more people than the US living in about 1/3 the space. There are an estimated 10 million orphans in India. One of those children, Lord willing, is our son.
That means it's really official, guys! We are starting the adoption process ALL over! 7 pounds of paperwork, we're coming for you...AGAIN! At least we (sort of) know what we are getting ourselves into this time around. I have my file folders, highlighter, paperclips, post-it notes, and all. the. coffee ready to tackle all these steps again. (Motivating chants & pep talks will be appreciated over the next few months...as well as Dove chocolate.)
Here is a quick overview of the India adoption process for those that are curious...or who just can't quit reading. All countries operate differently so there's a learning curve for us too.
Step 1: Home Study (AKA: Invite our social worker over to our house for the 7th time in our adoption process. We could probably be considered best friends by now.)
Because we already have an international adoption Home Study, we get to do an "extended update," which means it's [a little] easier and [a little] cheaper! There is still a LOT of paperwork involved, but the ball is already rolling on this step, and this is our current focus. We would love to have this step finished by the end of September.
Step 2: Match (AKA: We get to see his photo!) This happens much sooner in the adoption process than in Ethiopia, and we absolutely cannot wait to lay eyes on our son!
Previously, we were waiting to be matched with a boy between 0-3 years old. We are still waiting to be matched with a boy, but India has some different requirements than Ethiopia. In India, we need to adopt in birth order, which means that we know our son will be our youngest child. Our girls are getting a LITTLE BROTHER! Eeeeee! India also requires a 6 month age difference between children. Because Hattie will be 18 months old when we submit, that means we will be waiting to be matched with a boy age 1 and under. Our girls are getting a BABY BROTHER! Eeeeee!!!!
AS SOON AS our Home Study is uploaded on CARINGS, India's adoption database, we should be able to receive a match the moment a child is available that fits within our required parameters. Some families get matched THE SAME WEEK (and sometimes even the same DAY!) that their file is uploaded. Our match could take a little longer, as we have a pretty narrow age range that we are able to request at this time. There is also a *small* chance that they will ask us to resubmit our paperwork when Hattie is closer to age 2. Our agency hasn't seen India do this in 2 years, but there's still a chance it could happen. Pray that they will go ahead and accept our paperwork as soon as possible. We are hopeful that we will have a match within 6 months of our submission, but we are holding all timeframes very loosely after our time in Ethiopia.
Step 3: Dossier (AKA: Our whole life story on 1 million pieces of paper.)
This is approximately 6.5 lbs of the 7 lbs of paperwork (I'm only slightly exaggerating) we need to complete for this adoption. It all has to be official and notarized and authenticated and all that jazz. It's pretty important because it's what the adoption authorities and courts in India will review and actually use to approve our adoption. Our goal is to get this done within 6 months, and it can be worked on while we are waiting to be matched and even after we are matched.
Step 4: Approvals (AKA: Waiting, waiting, and more waiting!)
This step will take the most time and will probably be the most difficult for us, in terms of emotions. There is nothing we can do except pray and wait. We will be waiting for court dates and approvals for our adoption from regional and state officials in India. The whole process typically takes 3 court dates and anywhere from 10-20 months....but you know our feelings on estimated wait times by now! From what we hear, there are some regions in India that move VERY quickly and some regions that move verrrrrrry slowly. It will all depend on where our son is living and the judges who handle our case. Start praying for them NOW because our approval is in their (and God's) hands! We will actually be granted a finalized adoption without ever appearing in court.
Step 4, B: Grant Applications (AKA: Show me the money!)
We lost a big chunk of our adoption savings when we left Ethiopia, but there are still hundreds of grants out there that we can apply for while we wait to travel. God is bigger than finances.
Step 5: Travel (AKA: Go to India, and get that boy in our arms!)
Once we have our court decree, we get to make travel plans! We will only need to make one trip to India. We will spend 10-14 days in country, bonding with our [already legally adopted] son, learning about the culture, being tourists, and obtaining documents - before finally coming HOME.
Step 6: Home (AKA: Become a family of 5!)
We are praying and hoping and believing that this whole process- start to finish- will take us 18-24 months. Pray for a smooth process, for perseverance, and for us to continue to trust in His timing. It's been a wild ride so far, but we can't wait to see where this journey takes us.