Thursday, March 13, 2014

Home Study Document Finalized, Immigration Documents Sent!

I am happy to announce that our Home Study process and document are finally finished! It didn't go as smoothly as we expected, but it is now corrected and complete! The date on our Home Study Document says February 4, 2014, because that was the day we were approved, but we didn't finalize that document until just this last weekend. Shortly after February 4th, the Home Study document was sent directly to our case worker with our adoption agency. We received a certificate in the mail giving us the basic information of what our Home Study approved us for (# of children, age range, medical status, etc.), but not the actual document, like I was expecting. I was so excited to have this part of the process done until I saw that the age range we were approved for was 0-12 months! Months! Please let that be a typo! We were hoping for 0-12 years! Of course we received the package on a Friday night so there was no chance of calling the Home Study to see if this was a mistake until Monday morning. We spent that weekend worrying that we might have wasted the last several months working on a Home Study that would be worthless in Ukraine. (Only children 5 years and older can normally be adopted out of the county). I called the office on Monday morning and was relieved to find out that it was in fact a typo. They promised to fix it and resend it. Whew! Meanwhile, our case worker with our adoption agency was switched again (our third one). We called the agency and asked for an explanation and was told that the first one, decided to only do Home Studies, and that the second one was over Bulgaria adoptions and agreed to take on Ukraine until another case worker was found, the third one used to handle adoptions from Russia until that was closed and now will be handling Ukraine. That's three different caseworkers in 6 months! I have to say I was bothered by this at first because I really was starting to connect with the second caseworker, but in my last post I mentioned that I felt strongly to pray for our caseworkers that would be helping us. I really feel that this new caseworker is an answer to that prayer. She is amazing with details and wording. She might not be as personable as the last one, but do I need another friend or do I need someone to get things done? She received our Home Study, reviewed it, sent it to some of her contacts in Ukraine to review it (not a normal thing), and then called us with some of her concerns. We had not seen the actual document so we were unaware of the many, many mistakes in it. Our new caseworker advised us to contact our Home Study agency to begin the editing process. When I called the Home Study agency I was surprised to talk to our social worker. I was told that she was going to be on leave for her wedding for several weeks, so I thought I would be dealing with her substitute while she was gone. I congratulated her on her wedding and she said that unfortunately it didn't happen yet because her sister passed away suddenly. She is postponing the wedding until later this Spring. She had taken some time off, but felt she needed to get back to work. I felt so bad for her! I know what it is like to lose a sibling so suddenly. She agreed to talk with our caseworker to address some of her concerns. They talked back and forth a bit, but our caseworker at the adoption agency wanted us to look at it, which isn't a normal thing to do until it is finalized, because it just didn't sound right. So our social worker finalized it and sent it directly to us instead of our adoption agency. Again, I was excited to receive the package and started to read the 16 page document. I started counting mistakes and stopped counting after 88 and I wasn't even finished with the document. I knew why our caseworker wanted it sent to us now. There were wrong dates of birth, ages (they listed me as 40, I'm 34. James was listed as 36, and he is 37), gender issues (she instead of he, etc.), and just plain things that weren't correct. It read like a Home Study of a couple trying to adopt internationally mingled with an older single lady trying to adopt domestically. Not good. Of course it was a Friday evening again when the package came so I couldn't call the Home Study Agency until Monday. So, I decided to not waste anymore time and go to work. I marked up the Home Study with a blue pen with all of the corrections that needed to be made, scanned it into my computer and then re-typed the whole document with the corrections and sent both as attachments in an email to my social worker. I knew she was going through a hard time right now so I tried to make this as easy as possible for her. I told her I wasn't comfortable sending in the Home Study as she finalized it and that I sent her the corrections that needed to be made and also that I re-typed it with all of the corrections already done. I asked her if she could either fix the corrections herself using the marked up Home Study or just review what I did and print it out on her letter head and finalize it again. I didn't hear back from her again for a few days because of the infamous snow days in Northern Virginia this winter, but she agreed to just print out the corrections I made on her letter head and have it finalized. She is an amazing person and I would work with her again and recommend her to anyone. I know it was just terrible timing for her. I can't imagine what it must have been like trying to complete our Home Study when she just found out that her sister died. I know it would have gone smoother if that wouldn't have happened. Who knows, maybe the Home Study process took so long (6 months) because our kiddos wouldn't have been available if it was processed earlier. We shall see. So with a completed Home Study, we sent in our immigration documents. Immigration can take up to 8 weeks. We will wait to hear back from them and then get our fingerprints done for Interpol and then send in our dossier to Ukraine. Hopefully we will travel to Ukraine to meet our kids by May or June.

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