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We've Been Fingerprinted Again!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! I had a chance to dress up twice this week; once for a Halloween party last weekend and again last night to go with our friend Marsha to take her 2 boys to their daycare carnival.

On the adoption front, everything is moving along nicely. Our agency should have received our updated dossier today complete with apostilles. This should be all the paperwork they need for now to get us registered.

We went to the local Sheriff’s department today to redo our fingerprints for the FBI. We were told that they can’t be more than 6 months old and we did our last ones in April so it was time to get those back up to date again.

My biggest paperwork concern at this point is our I-171H extension that I applied for back in August. Still no word on that but I have sent them a couple of emails so hopefully I’ll hear something soon.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Rob & I in our Halloween costumes.

Rob and Dede Halloween Pirates
 

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posted by Dede at 9:38 PM 6 comments

Dossier #3, Check!

Friday, October 26, 2007

So far, so good...

We received our updated home study today which was the last document needed to complete our 3rd dossier. Woo hoo! Everything is already on the way to be apostilled next week and then on to our agency. Hopefully we will be registered and waiting on our referral before the end of November.
 

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posted by Dede at 8:04 PM 8 comments

A New Beginning

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We finally made the decision to withdraw from CHI and start over with another agency. It was a very tough decision to make since it feels like we’ve just wasted the last 2 years. If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we’ve made no progress since our dossier was submitted in May 2006. We were never encouraged to switch regions to go independent until last month even though we asked about this back in January. Even after moving to a new region, our agency’s only option for us was to continue waiting for accreditation.

We had been asking ourselves how to know when it was the right time to cut loose and start over. I honestly didn’t think we would do it but after talking to our new agency on the phone, there was not a doubt in our minds about this being the right thing to do and the right time to do it. It just all fell into place and felt right. I mention this because I know some other couples struggle with the same uncertainties and doubts about making this drastic of a move. My suggestion if you are considering switching is to talk to the other agencies and then follow your heart.

We’ve felt more optimistic and in control in the past few days than we had at any point in the last year or so. We’ve spent this week putting our 3rd dossier together and updating our home study. We’re getting to be quite the dossier pros! We should have it all finished up and ready for the apostilles next week.

I want to say thank you to all of you that have left encouraging comments and emails the past few weeks. It really helps having a support system. Wish us luck on our journey with our new agency!
 

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posted by Dede at 6:09 PM 10 comments

CIS: Lubbock

Saturday, June 9, 2007

digital fingerprintWe just returned home from our second trip to the Homeland Security fingerprinting office. We had so much fun last time, we thought we would do it all over again!

Things seemed a little less uptight this time (or maybe we were just less uptight). We were greeted at the door upon arrival, same as before, to check our ID and appointment letter before allowing us inside the building. This time, the fellow at the door joked about us adopting him instead and gave us a list of qualifications that would make him a great adoptee candidate. In the end, Rob could not get him to negotiate in taking over his yardwork for him so we proceeded with the fingerprinting.

Today we were now serving numbers 11 and 12. The fingerprint scanning went well once I learned to relax my fingers. We were processed quickly and out of there within 45 minutes. It's not often these days that I get to use the words government office and quickly in the same sentence!

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posted by Dede at 7:54 PM 3 comments

The USCIS Comes Through

Saturday, June 2, 2007

We received our re-fingerprinting appointment letter yesterday from the USCIS. The closest office to us is about 2.5 hours away but luckily they are open on Saturday's so we won't have to take off work.

Also, we found out that even with the USCIS fee increases that we are going to qualify to get our fingerprints and updated I600A for free (one time only). I can't believe that something the government is doing is actually going to save us some money!

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posted by Dede at 11:40 AM 1 comments

All Caught Up Again

Monday, May 28, 2007

FedEx deliversWe sent another batch of updated paperwork off to be apostilled last week.   This has us caught up with everything that has expired so far other than our medicals which they prefer we wait on until things gets closer.   Our CIS fingerprints will be expiring in June and we’re still waiting on a new appointment.   I sent the request for the appointment in April but haven’t heard anything back from them yet.

Our FedEx online account has made shipping the paperwork easier.   I highly recommend setting up an account if you are just starting your adoption (and no, I’m not getting any kind of referral fee for saying that).   :-)   Their website allows you to create an address book for printing out shipping labels.   This really comes in handy whenever I have to send the paperwork for apostilles or to our agency.   I also like the fact that I can track the package every step of the way and know when it was received and who signed for it.

Let’s hope that the reaccreditations come soon so we won’t have to keep updating the papers!
 

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posted by Dede at 11:29 PM 0 comments

Normal People

Saturday, May 12, 2007

We had our psychologist appointment last week and finally got that part of the paperwork finished up. The meeting with her lasted about an hour and was just the general why do you want to adopt questions along with some parenting questions. She said that we passed our MMPI test and were classifed as being normal people. There are a few people at work that don't agree with her findings but they don't count! ;-)

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posted by Dede at 4:05 PM 1 comments

No Arrest Record

Monday, April 16, 2007

Remember Our "Booking" Experience a few weeks ago? Well, we got the results back today and I must say that the results were quicker and less thrilling than I expected.

The fingerprint card came back with a stamp on the back that says "No Arrest Record." Somehow, I thought there would be more. Maybe a certificate for being a law abiding citizen or at the very least, a smiley face sticker...but something! It just seems so, what's the word, oh yeah, businessy. ;-)

Also, we were told that it would take 6-8 weeks to get the results back but it only took 12 days (including weekends). Normally that would be a good thing but with accreditation being on indefinite hold, I'm worried they will expire before we even get our referral. I'm thinking I remember reading somewhere that they are only good for 6 months. Leave me a comment if you know for sure about the expiration.

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posted by Dede at 10:11 PM 2 comments

Psychologically Speaking...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One of the new requirements for our updated dossier is a letter from a licensed psychologist stating that we’re not crazy people.   We’ve been shopping for a discounted one for a couple of weeks (most run around $300-$400) per session.   I finally talked to a lady last week that thought she would be able to do the letter with one session visit and a test for $100 so I immediately said you're the winner!

We’d been patiently waiting for her to snail mail us the test since last week and it still didn't arrive today.   So we called her up and she said she had forgot and that she would bring it by our house in about 15 minutes on her way home from work.   Yikes!   We immediately had to do a quick bit of house tidying and dress like "normal" people.

Sure enough, without a minute to spare, the doorbell rang and there she stood. She came in for a few minutes and explained how to take the MMPI test.   She wasn’t at all what we had pictured her to look like from talking to her on the phone.   I hate when I form mental images of people based on their voice (wait, that might be one of the test questions - nevermind).   I was a little freaked that she made a housecall but tried to remain "normal" looking in case this visit was part of the test.

After she left, we looked over the 500+ question test. There are some strange questions on there.   After we finish the test, we’ll turn it in to her, make an appointment for a consultation, and hopefully get our dossier letter!
 

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posted by Dede at 8:57 PM 0 comments

Post-Placement Negotiations

Sunday, April 8, 2007

One of the updated forms that our agency is requesting is a home study post-placement agreement letter. The letter has to be signed by the agency that is going to do the 4 post-placement visits after the child is home.

When we first started the our adoption (way back when), we decided that it would be easiest for our adoption agency to also do the home study and post-placements. We were required to pre-pay the post-placement reports so we paid $800 in March 2006 for this. I didn't really think it was right that we should have to pay for this before we had our child but whatever, we paid it and checked it off the list.

We discovered after our first home study visit (in December 2005) that the travel costs for our agency's social worker visit would be costing us $300+ (air, hotel, car rental, parking, etc.) since they do not have anyone locally to do the reports. We would have to pay these travel costs for each of the 4 post-placement visits too in addition to the $800 we had already paid for the reports.

When we had to update our home study, we were thrilled to find a social worker agency closer that could do the home study and only charge us $25 for travel costs. We decided that we wanted them to do our post-placement reports too so it would save on the travel costs. Their fee for the reports is $1500 (includes travel). We thought GREAT, we will get the $800 back and give to them and come out ahead paying another $700 and no travel costs. WRONG!

We were told that we could have the $800 back but it would have to be put up again as a refundable deposit before the final adoption to insure that the reports would be completed. They will refund $200 back to us each time one of the 4 reports are completed. They stated there have been past issues with families not doing their reports once they have their child and this is the only leverage they have to get them to do the reports.

This meant more money up front but it is still cost effective in the long run to not have to pay the travel costs (that will only be increasing over the years). In the end, we paid the $1500, left the $800 up as a deposit and our post-placement report agreement has been signed. Another item to check off the list!

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posted by Dede at 9:26 AM 5 comments

Our "Booking" Experience

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

We went to the Sheriff's department today to be fingerprinted or booked so we can send the prints off to the FBI for a background check. This is just another part of the endless process known as adoption!

When we were fingerprinted by the USCIS (Homeland Security) last year; which by the way we will be doing again soon, but I'll get to that part later; they used a scanner and it was all digital and hi-tech. Today's fingerprinting was more like the criminals you see getting booked on TV only minus the mug shot. They rolled out the ink and pressed each finger on a card in its designated square and then gave us some yucky orange gritty cleanser to clean the ink off our fingers. I will say that the lady officer doing the fingerprinting was quite nice and was very excited about our adoption.

On our way out, we walked by some prisoners in stripes picking up trash. I did a quick search of the back of the Element to make sure we weren't taking any guests with us before we left the parking lot. :-)

From there, we FedEx'd the fingerprint cards to the FBI in West Virginia for a background check. Someday in the near future we hope to get the cards back with a clear background report attached to them.

As mentioned previously, we will be re-doing the USCIS fingerprints again soon. How your fingerprints can expire is beyond me but they will be expiring in June so we will be doing the hi-tech fingerprint scanning again in May.

Today was a fairly cheap day all things considered. There was no charge from the Sheriff's department (they do adoption prints for free). There was a $36 fee for the FBI to process and a .95 cent fee for the money order for the FBI; they don't take checks. Who would write the FBI a hot check to send with their fingerprints???? That's just CRAZY!

fingerprint

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posted by Dede at 9:49 PM 4 comments

Refingerprinting

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I have the letter ready to mail tomorrow to the USCIS requesting refingerprinting. Ours will expire in June. They told us it is about a 6-8 week process to do the redo. At least this time around it is free!

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posted by Dede at 4:52 PM 6 comments

More Expirations and Fees

Monday, February 26, 2007

We received an email from our agency today encouraging us to write Congress in support of extending the I-171H timeline. This legislation would extend the validity of the I-171H "Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition" form to at least two years. The I-171H form is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. The form is currently valid for 18 months, although the time needed to complete the adoption process has significantly increased over the last few years. This is because of delays in the travel approval, visas for orphans, and additional processing time to gain approval of orphan adoption by foreign governments.

The I-171H form has an application fee of $545, plus $70 per person for fingerprints. Several other forms are needed before receiving approval, including a home study to ensure the home is safe and stable, birth and marriage certificates, health and financial records, criminal background checks, and other information. The entire cost of international adoption can be thousands of dollars. If the I-171H form expires before the adoption is complete, a family must reapply and re-submit all applicable forms, fees and evaluations. This can be prohibitively costly for many hopeful parents.

After reading this information, that's when it dawned on us that ours will be expiring in May 2006 and we will have to pay another $685 to get it renewed again.

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posted by Dede at 6:57 PM 2 comments

Home Study 2 - Check!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

We met with our new social worker LuAnne yesterday for our home study update. She met us at our house during our work lunch break so we could minimize the time we had to be away from work which we thought was very considerate of her.

She basically went over the copy of our outdated home study and updated some of the numbers; one of which was our ages :-( She also did a quick walk-through of the house and then was gone. Total time here was about 45 minutes.

We have doctors appointments on Monday to get our medical letters back up to date and after we send those to LuAnne, everything should be good to go on our home study.

The next thing we have to keep an eye on that will be expiring is our CIS fingerprints. Our agency said if things are not progressing by April, then we need to start working on getting those updated too.

I wish the Russia Ministry of Education would hurry up and get the accrediatations going!

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posted by Dede at 9:13 AM 2 comments

Home Study Redux

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Our original adoption home study expired yesterday so I spent a good deal of the day trying to find a local social worker to do a new one. The social worker that did our first one did a great job but she lives on the other side of Texas from us so travel expenses were considerable. Even though I wasn’t able to find anyone in our immediate area, we were referred to a social worker about 100 miles away. (Trust me, that’s close by Texas standards.)

The social worker will be here next Friday to do the new home study. This means we’re back in "hurry-up" mode to get some paperwork done along with updated medical reports.
 

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posted by Dede at 6:45 PM 2 comments

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Russian government instituted a bunch of new regulations that caused all international adoption agencies operating throughout Russia to reapply for NGO status — which is their equivalent to our "non-profit" status — so all the agencies have had to jump thru lots of hoops to meet these new requirements. Those agencies whose annual accreditation expired anytime after May 17th are caught in a nasty loophole because they can't renew their accreditation until they first get past the updated NGO requirements.

(Reaccreditation has to occur each year, but it typically only causes about a 8-9 week delay, although this accreditation renewal loop is what held up Brad & Marsha for 5 months in the interim between their 1st & 2nd trips.)

Our notarized & apostilled paperwork arrived in Russia a week past the cutoff point — thanks entirely to the Texas state secretary's office dragging their heels precisely 1 day too long doing our apostilles — and that will cause us to be in limbo waiting on the NGO & accreditation renewal.

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posted by Dede at 5:26 PM 0 comments

The Dossier is Complete

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Finally! We've completed our dossier and it has been apostilled by the state. We sent it to our agency today for review. Once it has been reviewed, a region in Russia will be selected and they'll forward our dossier to that assigned region.

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posted by Dede at 5:15 PM 0 comments

I-171H Form

Saturday, April 29, 2006

We received our I-171H form today from the USCIS (formerly INS, a.k.a. Homeland Security) that we've been waiting on this since the CIS fingerprinting in March. This completes the processing of our I-600A form (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) and gives us governmental clearance to adopt.

The I-171H is valid for 18 months and it's the last piece of paper needed for our dossier packet. Now our dossier is now ready to be sent to the state to be apostilled!

(An apostille is a special seal applied by a country's authority to certify that a document is a true copy of an original. You can think of it as an internationally-recognized version of a notary seal.)

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posted by Dede at 5:06 PM 0 comments

CIS Fingerprinting

Friday, March 3, 2006

We drove to Lubbock today to do our Homeland Security fingerprinting. We were surprised to find that the office was located in a strip mall. We were greeted at the door by an officer who asked to see our letter and requested that I leave my purse in the car and only bring in our paperwork and ID's. Needless to say, this was a very intimidating situation.

There were only about 3 other people waiting but we were each given a "Now Serving" number and seated in a stark waiting area. I was called back for the fingerprinting by a white button-down, short-sleeved, no-nonsense Fed (picture the typical FBI agent on TV). He cleaned my hands with some type of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. He then moistened my hands by spraying water on them. He then rolled one finger tip at a time across a scanner pad and my digital fingerprint appeared on the monitor above. He inspected each print to make sure it was clear and then moved on to the next finger. My hands kept drying out so he had to spray water on them frequently. Rob always has dry hands, there was a lot of re-scanning before getting a full set of acceptable prints. No doubt, this had something to do with both of us being so nervous.

Once completed, we were politely, but quickly, whisked right on out the door. On our way out, we asked about the timeframe for getting the results and these gentleman had little information to provide us.

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posted by Dede at 7:57 PM 0 comments

February Progress

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I decided to lump all of February's activities into one post:

2/7/06 - Completed the Love & Logic parenting course.

2/9/06 - Received final copy of our home study report from Leslie.

2/21/06 - Received letter for USCIS Fingerprinting appointment scheduled for 3/3.

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posted by Dede at 3:46 PM 0 comments

The Home Study

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This is the day I've been stressing over and as it turned out, it was no big deal. Our social worker, Leslie, met with us today and did a walk-through of our house and property. She went over our paperwork and asked us some questions about our neighborhood, schools in the area and future work / daycare plans. She then split us up and interviewed Rob and me separately. She went over our autobiographies and asked specific questions about our childhood and family relationships. At the end of the interviews, she told us that she's going to put in her report that we're approved for adopting 2 children in case we decided we want that option.

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posted by Dede at 3:07 PM 0 comments

Preparing for the Home Study

Monday, November 21, 2005

In preparation for our home study, we were each required to write an autobiography. This required a lot of soul-searching. The autobiography covered how we were brought up and our family relationships in the past and the present. We also had to outline how we would in turn raise and discipline our child. The latter was a real challenge to us. It's hard to make those decisions without knowing what the child is going to be like and since we have no other children, we're without a frame of reference. By the end of writing the papers, we both felt like we'd been through some deep psychological therapy of self-exploration but I thought it was a wonderful way to learn a lot about myself that I might have otherwise never known.

Our autobiographies along with our police background reports and other miscellaneous paperwork were sent today.

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posted by Dede at 5:41 PM 0 comments

Forms & Fees

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

We've been busy filling out forms and today we sent copies of our marriage license and birth certificates along with the CIS I-600A (Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition) form fee to our agency.

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posted by Dede at 9:36 PM 0 comments