|dos·si·er (dos - e - a) n. A collection of papers giving detailed information about a particular person or subject. |
[French from Old French, bundle of papers labeled on the back, from dos, back, from latin dorsum.]
We are currently waiting for our dossier package to be filed with the government in Katie's country. This is what I tell people when they ask where we are in our adoption process. They usually nod their head, smile, and say, "Oh that's great!" However, I don't think most people know what a dossier is. I would have had no idea before we started this process. This is what it feels like. . . .
The dossier and the home study are the two biggies in an international adoption. You cannot adopt without completing both. Our home study was a piece of cake. Our dossier? Not difficult, per say, but just a lot of work. Like, a full-time job for a while, kind of work. Our agency sent, no joke, a bound book with our Adoption Preparation and Dossier Instructions.
We have to prepare five sets of documents - set one is the "registration" set, which is the first to get filed. This was my list before set one was finished.
The items on this list included:
1. Numbered picture list with: one family photo, four to six pictures of the inside and outside of your home
2. Letter of Intent, notarized and apostilled
3. Application (one for each applicant [parent]), notarized and apostilled
4. Questionnaire (one for each applicant), notarized and apostilled
5. Certified copy of Marriage Certificate, apostilled in the state of origin; must be current.
6. One signed copy of each applicant's Passport, notarized and apostilled
7. Commitment to provide post placement reports, notarized and apostilled
8. Commitment to register the adopted child, notarized and apostilled
9. Declaration of Attorney regarding property ownership, notarized and apostilled
10. One form I 171H (USCIS approval), notarized and apostilled
11. One letter of medical approval for each applicant, notarized and apostilled
12. One copy per applicant of your doctor's medical license, notarized and apostilled
13. One letter of employment per applicant, notarized and apostilled
14. One local police clearance for each applicant, notarized and apostilled
15. One FBI clearance for each applicant, notarized and apostilled
16. Adoptive home study
17. Agency post placement report commitment
18. Agency registration commitment
19. Agency license
20. Agency licensing letter in good standing
21. Interagency agreement - treaty
Set 2 is our court set, which had to be sent to our facilitator with set one. Some regions of Katie's country do not require this, but our's does. This was our list for this set:
The items on this list included:
1. Numbered picture list with: one family photo (8x10), six to twelve pictures of the inside and outside of your home
2. Adoption training list with attached course certificates (for on-line courses only), apostilled
3. Letter of medical approval, one for each applicant, notarized and apostilled
4. One true and correct copy of your doctor's medical license, per applicant, notarized and apostilled
5. One psychological evaluation per applicant, notarized and apostilled
6. One true and correct copy of your psychologist's license, notarized and apostilled
7. One certified copy of Marriage Certificate, apostilled in the state of origin, must be current
8. One signed copy of each applicant's Passport, notarized and apostilled
9. Financial statement, notarized and apostilled
10. Declaration of attorney regarding property ownership, notarized and apostilled
11. One certified copy of the deed of home, apostilled
12. One letter of employment, per applicant, notarized and apostilled
13. One local police clearance for each applicant, notarized and aspostilled
14. One FBI clearance for each applicant, notarized and apostilled
15. One true and correct copy of Form I 171H (USCIS approval), notarized and apostilled
16. Letter from prospective parents addressed to "Dear Honorable Judge", explaining in detail why you wish to adopt a special needs child, and what resources are available to you in your city or state, and what organizations you subscribe to where you derive advantages, information and experiences to share with parents who are raising a child/ren with similar special needs. (Yes, for real.)
17. Adoptive home study
18. Agency post placement report commitment
19. Agency registration commitment
20. Agency license
21. Agency licensing letter in good standing
22. Excerpt from state adoption laws
23. Interagency Agreement - treaty
Then? There are sets 3, 4, and 5. Thankfully those are much easier, and are largely prepared by our agency. We will have to update our police clearances and my employment letter, but for the most part our dossier preparation is completed. So what does that all look like when it's done?
Each document got an apostille, which is the blue jacket with the cover letter with the fancy gold seal.
Don't know what an apostille is? Don't feel bad - neither did I.
Ap-o-steel n. - Additional authentication required for international acceptance of notarized documents, including but not limited to, adoption papers, affidavits, birth certificates, contracts, death certificates, deeds, diplomas, and degrees, divorce decrees, incorporation papers, marriage certificates, patent applications, powers of attorney, and school transcripts. Instituted by 'The Hague Convention Abolishing The Requirements Of Legalization For Foreign Public Documents' of 1961, its objective is obviate "the requirements of diplomatic or consular legalization" and thus replace the cumbersome 'chain authentication method' that called for verification by multiple authorities. As prescribed by the convention, an apostille (French for, notation) is a preprinted small (minimum 9 x 9 centimeters) form having ten numbered items of information with blank spaces to be filled in by the designated authority in the issuing country. It is obligatory upon every signatory country to accept apostilles of the other signatory countries.
You pay per apostille, and the prices vary WIDELY by state. In Tennessee, they are $2.00 per document. I also had to pay $6.00 per document to first have the notary on each document verified by the county clerk, so each document's authorization effectively cost us $8.00. Sets one and two had 62 documents to notarize and apostille. ($496.00 for those of you doing the math at home. Plus $47.00 to send via Fed Ex to our agency.)
Anyone who says it's adopting is the "easy" way to have a child has clearly never adopted. I am here to promise you that birthing babies was easier than this. I didn't have to have a psychological evaluation or prove to anyone that I was qualified to have a baby. Nobody came to inspect my house. I didn't have to prove that I wasn't a criminal and that I would be able to financially support a baby. Or two, or three, or four. Nobody had to write me a letter of recommendation to state that I would be a good parent, and I certainly didn't have to write a letter to my doctor justifying my reasons for wanting a child. We didn't spend in excess of $30,000 to have any of our babies (or all of them combined), and I most certainly didn't take multiple trips to a third world country to pick them up. In fact, I stayed at a cushy hospital and it was seriously like being on a nice vacation. Although our journey to Katie is much different than how our other three children entered our lives, it is no less exciting or anticipated. It is much like waiting for a child to be born - we have been dying for updates on her, and cannot wait to see her. All of our hard work and "paper chasing" will pay off - hopefully soon!