International Child Adoption Process
Pick Country and Agency.
When you begin the international adoption process, we recommend that you start by selecting your country and agency first. It has been interesting for us to listen to our adoptive parents’ stories on how they made those decisions. In a recent survey we did with our existing adoptive parents, the data showed that about 64% of our parents decided on Poland adoption first and chose Saint Mary’s. Choosing the country first can be important because different countries have different requirements. For example, there are differences in age requirements, length of marriage requirements and length of visits. Therefore, selecting a country that is feasible for your family makes sense.
The remaining 36% who chose an agency first also make sense. Finding the adoption professionals to guide you through this process is very important as well. Our advice to all adoptive parents is, no matter what agency you select, let them help you from the very beginning until the very end. With our adoption agency, we are involved at every stage of the child adoption process. There are different stages that will be done by different people, but at the end, every document, comes together to meet all requirements. You can think of the different stages, whether that is document preparation, or acquiring adoption clearances, as different players on one team who need one coach to help them achieve their objective as a team. To some degree the decision between adoption agency and country are blended. We pray that our adoptive parents know in their hearts which way they’re lead to go and we look forward to meeting those who know that their child is in Poland.
Complete Home Study.
The second step of the international adoption process is to begin the paperwork. The home study is done by a licensed agency who has the social workers with the necessary qualifications and experience to conduct this service. The home study has several roles. Perhaps one of the most important ones of them all is to determine your eligibility as adoptive parents. Upon favorable findings, the social worker will recommend you as adoptive parents, as will the adoption agency and you will submit this document (with our help) to the offices of USCIS. Upon favorable findings there, they will issue their approval of you as eligible candidates for adoptive parents.
Put together your Adoption “Dossier”.
Amongst adoption professionals, the term “dossier” has become what is commonly used to refer to the documents which will be submitted on your behalf before the officials from the foreign country. Poland is a Hague Country and so is the US. In order for a document to be recognized in such a country (Hague), the document needs to have the necessary authentication, called an apostille. Our agency has been helping its adoptive parents put these “dossiers” together for over 15 years and know exactly what is required by the Polish adoption authorities for this part of the international child adoption process. We’ll know all in the ins and outs and we make it easy for our adoptive parents to make sense out of and put together their “homework” as we like to call it. (instead of “dossier”)
Submit your Adoption “Dossier”.
When you’re done with the home study and the you’ve put together your adoption dossier, it is time to let all the paperwork do its job. You’ll give it to us, and we’ll give it to our long time Polish adoption partner who will translate it and list it with the appropriate authorities so the wait for a match can begin. Wait times are difficult to predict. Each and every international adoption process is different on a case per case basis. However, we understand that is an important question for adoptive parents and to answer. So, to the best of our ability we say that a good estimate of waiting to be offered the opportunity to adopt a child is between 6 and 10 months. It can be slower, or quicker as well.
Something that we do differently than other agencies is that the fee which is due with the dossier is due only when you’re ready to submit your dossier. It is liked to you and your own speed.
Accept Your Child.
By far, one of our most favorite things to do is call our adoptive families and tell them that Poland has a child in mind for them. Often referred to by adoption professionals as a “referral” – we usually don’t use that term. Not sure why, it just doesn’t sound sweet enough to describe the fact that an orphan could potentially be accepted by a loving family. Whether the child being referred to your family is your child, or not – is a decision that is completely up to you and your family alone. We’ll let you know that the opportunity is there, and we’ll give you everything the competent authorities have given us in terms of pictures and medical and social information. The rest is all upto you.
Once, you’ve decided it’s a “yes” and that you’re going to proceed with the adoption of your child, we will inform the Central Authority. They will then issue documents statitng that the the proposed match has been accepted, and that it is in their discretion in the best interest of the child for the adoption to be finalized. We will then help you to apply with CIS via the I-800 Provisional Approval. Upon CIS processing this approval, our representatives will apply to get a court date tha orders your bonding period to begin. Doing so will initiate your trip and will give us dates of your travel.
Waiting to Travel.
Though we could have skipped this step, we wanted to point your attention to the fact that international adoption is a complicated process. Because of that, often times patience is required. In order for your adotpion to be allowed to continue, Polish and American government officials are required to approve your adoption at diffferent stages. Once you’ve accepted your child, th Polish Authority will send their approvals which will be used to apply for the approval of the US government’s officials before a Polish judge issues the necessary bonding period. All of that may take a few months.
Traveling to Poland to Complete Your Adoption.
Once the Polish judge orders the bonding period, both parents will travel to Poland. The bonding period is usualy 21 days, though it could be longer. Both parents need to stay in country for that. Bonding period ends with a court date (in some regions, there might be more than one hearing). After the court hearing(s), for the court decree to become valid, 21 days are required. In some cases, the judge may choose to shorten it to 14 days. After the decree is final, the adoptive parents need to attend the US Embassy interview after obtaining the required documents for the child’s visa. In most cases, one parent may leave after the court hearing. Yes, it can be a long trip, but from a bonding perspective, it is important to spend that time as a family in surroundings which are familiar to your child.