Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's been a while

It has been a while since I have posted anything on our blog, but we have been extremely busy. Our dossier was completed and sent to Albania for approval. Because the Albanian Adoption Committee only meets once a month and our dossier had to be translated from English to Albanian prior to being submitted to the committee by our NGO, we had to wait about four weeks for our dossier to be approved by the committee.

Once the dossier was approved, Lucy's official referral documents, which include copies of her birth certificate, the court decree terminating parental rights, and medical assessments on Lucy were forwarded from Albania to our agency and then on to us. With the referral documents, another document declaring our intent to continue the adoption also came. With our signatures, we declared our intent to proceed to bring our daughter home. There were also other court documents from Albania that we had to sign, notarize, certify and have apostilled at the Secretary of State's office. We completed those documents and had them ready to go back to Albania in less than a week.

As these documents were being sent to Albania, Rob and I were also filling out our I-800 for USCIS. The I-800 is a petition to US Immigration requesting that the convention adoptee be classified as an immediate relative. Basically, USCIS uses the information found on this form and the accompanying documents to determine if the child is an orphan and eligible for convention adoptee status. The accompanying documents include copies of Lucy's original birth certificate and the court decree terminating parental rights from Albania.

USCIS logged in our I-800 application and documents on June 17th, and we have an assigned officer. Rob spoke to our officer last week who stated that our documents had not made it to her desk yet, but she felt that she would get them soon. The receipt for our documents from USCIS stated that the application would be processed in 10-14 days. We are definitely at that point now. Rob and I intend on calling our officer again tomorrow for an update. We are hoping for I-800 approval by the end of the week.

So what happens next? Well, our I-800 provisional approval gets sent to us, our adoption agency and the US Embassy in Albania, and Rob and I get to do, you guessed it, more paperwork. Rob and I will be required to fill out a visa application for Lucy with the help of our adoption agency, and this application will be submitted to the appropriate consular office at the US Embassy in Albania. After reviewing our provisional I-800 approval documents and Lucy's visa application, the Department of State will then issue an Article 5 letter to the Central Authority in Albania. Our documents will then be sent to the court in Lucy's city in Albania, and the court then will issue our first court date.

Yes, folks, that is how close we are to meeting our sweet angel! Once we get I-800 approval, typical wait time to travel is four weeks. We will be hitting the time period when the courts close for the whole month of August in Albania, but we are confident that we should be traveling in mid to late August if we get a court date for early September. We have to be in country 15 days prior to our first court appointment to meet and bond with Lucy, hence why we are hoping for travel dates in August.

This process has been 15 months in the making, and now we are ready for the real journey to begin. The journey that does not start with a bunch of paperwork, but the journey that starts with gentle words, hugs and kisses, timid moments of getting to know one another and becoming a family. This journey will last a lifetime. This journey will have ups and downs, happiness and sadness, joy and grief. But, this is the journey that we have worked so hard these last 15 months to begin. This is the journey to be a Lucy's forever family.