I forgot to update everyone! Our FBI apostilles arrived to Gladney a while ago and were sent to Colombia. So as of right now our dossier is either fully translated or almost finished. Here's the next series of events so you understand the process. We are somewhere around step 1 or 2. Hopefully we'll know something for sure, soon.
Approval Process (If any of you veteran adoptive parents are reading this and find something inaccurate, please correct me! I'm still a newbie!)
1. Our dossier is sent to the translators. Then our agency double checks everything.
2. Our dossier is taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bogota to check apostilles and get a stamp on it. The unfortunate thing is that only four documents per agency are allowed to be submitted each day. So that means our dossier could take a week or more just to get all the stamps it needs. I was told that ours is the only dossier being processed right now, so hopefully that means a shorter wait.
3. Our dossier is then submitted to the ICBF office in Bogota, the capital. There it will be approved that we are indeed allowed to adopt in Colombia. From what I hear, there is a particular woman in the office that sometimes pulls the dossiers of people who are adopting older or sibling groups in order to make the process go faster. We're praying that she will pull ours and get it moving.
4. The ICBF office in Bogota will then send our dosser to Medellin, where our chicos live. There, they will review the homestudy and psychological and other documents to be sure we are a good match for these particular children. We already sent a Letter of Intent back when we were matched with them, which essentially puts those children "on hold" for us. No other family is allowed to view their file when they are "on hold".
5. If the ICBF sees that we are all a good match, they will issue a formal referral to our agency for us. A referral is where we will receive updated pictures, medical records, a biopsychosocial report and any other info important to them.
6. We will review the updated referral information and if we decide to proceed with the adoption we will send a letter of acceptance and a care package for the children. The social workers in Colombia will start the transition process with the children, explaining to them what is going to happen.
7. At the same time, we will send all the children's paperwork, along with the I800 immigration forms to USCIS, where they will review and issue a visa for our children to become US citizens once the adoption is finalized. This is called an article 5 letter, I think.
8. As soon as the Colombian government receives notification that the children are approved, they will issue us a Travel Date for our "Presentation" meeting where we will meet the children and they will be placed with us.
9.This is when the airline tickets need to be bought, packing and repacking happens, and Brent and I have to go to the Colombian Consulate in Washington DC to get special visas that allow us to legally have custody of the children before the adoption is final.
10. Then we TRAVEL! We will have a 10 day bonding time with the kids. At the end we will have an interview with the ICBF social workers where they assure that all is a good match. Then our paperwork is submitted to court. The time that it takes for the court to finalize the adoption (called Sentencia) is anyone's guess. Average time is 3-4 weeks. So we'll see. After Sentencia, we will fly to Bogota where we will get the children's visas and passports so we can travel HOME!
11. Then we begin the "new normal" as a family of NINE!
Writing it all out looks like it will take a LONG time, but our social worker is still saying we should be prepared to travel in February or early March. That would be awesome!
We still have a TON of stuff to do, especially get bedrooms painted and organized, and raise enough money to cover our travel costs (which could be near $20,000). But, God is in control and He will provide! We are so excited to see Him work! This whole process has been such a step of faith and He has not disappointed us in anything.
Here are our specific things we are petitioning the Lord for right now. We would be most grateful and humbled if you would storm the gates of heaven on our behalf.
Please pray that God would provide the money needed to travel. We believe He is able and excited to let us see Him provide.
Please pray that our paperwork will sail through each step smoothly and quickly and that we will have patience as we sit and wait for news.
Please pray that there will be no devastating surprises with the children's referral paperwork. That God would give us wisdom as we make the final decision to say "yes" to these little ones.
Also, please pray for our little chicos. Their world is going to be turned completely upside down in a few short weeks. Everything that is familiar and normal to them is going to change. My heart aches as I imagine how confusing and difficult this all will be for them.
New language, new parents, new siblings, new house, new food, new bed, new culture, new toys, new friends, new land, new rules, new everything. It will all be overwhelming. They may grieve for a long time over all they have lost.
Pray that God will give them peace that surpasses their circumstances and their understanding. No matter how loving and gentle we can be with them through the trauma of adoption, it is only God in His mercy that can help them heal and trust.
Pray for Caitlin, Grant, Jake and Quinn as they learn how to love in a way they have never had to before. Give them patience and longsuffering as they bear with all the changes that this adoption will bring. Pray that they will grow in Christ's likeness because of it.
Pray that we will be a witness to those we come in contact with here in the US and also in Colombia. Pray that we will be BOLD for Christ and that we would never dishonor His name because of our own selfishness.
We love each of you and thank you for all the encouragement you are to us.