A dear friend sent me an email asking about when we might be meeting our baby. I replied with a list of what we had to next (a long way of saying 'I don't know'). So here is our quick, off-the-top-of-my-head list of stuff that has to happen now. Some of this is the same as the US process, some of it is different. :
- Wait for our approval to be ratified (probably early Feb)
- Appoint a notary
- Wait for our local authority to send our ratified papers to the department of ch.ildren, scho.ols, and famili.es (D.CS.F) (Should be ~1 week after ratification)
- Wait for the D.CSF to certify us as 'eligible' adopters (could be 2 weeks, could be 6 months)
- Wait for the DC.SF to send our papers to our notary
- Get the rest of our dossier to the notary (really, there would be NO EXCUSE for not having all of this together after how long we've had to prepare): (bank reference, personal references, birth cert, marriage cert, post-placement obligation letter, why we want to adopt from ethiopia letter, photos, proof of life insurance, etc - y'all know the drill)
- Arrange for notary to photocopy and authenticate all the relevant papers, then send to Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ethiopian Embassy (I'm not quite sure why this costs close to £1000. A mystery).
- Wait for Eth. embassy to legalise papers and send back to Notary (probably about 3 weeks - 1 month)
- Notary sends back to D.CSF
- Wait for DCS.F to send papers to Ethiopia (YAAAAAY!) (could be 1 week, could be 2 months - looking like 2 months at the moment. Another mystery. All they have to do is measure the parcel so we can call DHL and tell them to collect it).
- wait to be notified about a suitable child (unknown time frame - could be quite quick, could be a few months)
- Fly to Addis
- Officially 'identify' child recommended by orphanage and apply for a court date for an adoption hearing
- Ask british embassy to provide confirmation that child will be eligible for citizenship
- Wait for notification of court date
- Wait for actual court date (approx 2 months after application). I will possibly be in Addis for this time - J will probably have to come home. I'm hoping to volunteer at the orphanage for this stretch but I have NO idea whether I'll be allowed to or not. Not thinking about this yet. It's too early for me to be disappointed if the answer is no. I'd rather have hope.
- Fly back to Addis (if back in the UK) for a second, 3-4 week trip. Arrive a week before court
- Court date
- Apply for Ethiopian passport for baby
- Wait for British embassy to give us entry clearance for baby
- Fly home!
So. I'm kind of getting used to the idea that our baby probably isn't born yet. But sometimes it hits me that maybe they aren't even conceived. J and I have regular, half-joking conversations about the fact that maybe, since it's going to take so long anyway, we should hang out for as long as it takes to get a twin referral. (Oooh, sorry, recommendation. Independent adopters must not use the term referral). But then sometimes I think 'but our friend K got her first set of papers through the D.CSF in a week! It could still happen!' until reality slaps me down again.
I love my country. I really do. But this adoption is messing with my brain enough, anyway, without all these UK-specific logistics to send me doubly crazy. I wish adoption was a bigger part of our culture. I wish there were enough adoptions each year for us to have an agency in Ethiopia. I wish I had some idea when I could be leaving work. I wish I knew who my baby was. I wish I could at least pray for him or her, knowing that they exist, already, whether inside or outside mother #1. I wish that I could communicate to some of my friends that okay, if they don't see ME as an expectant mother, could they please pray for / be thinking of mother #1? I wish I could explain that right now, mother # 1 feels more real to me - is more often in my thoughts - than Hypothetical Future Baby, who, contrary to what I expected, feels more shadowy than ever. I wish I could explain that I'm not adopting to avoid morning sickness.
Okay, I'm a little off the topic now. Sorry. Normal service will resume soon.