Ya'll, International Adoption is no joke! This is a crazy, long, hard process which frequently has you wanting bang your head on walls because of all the red-tape, numerous documents needing notarized or apostilled, or the never-ending Hurry Up and Wait.
But here are some key things that I'm jotting down for you and myself if we do this again in the future!
1. As soon as you begin the process, send in the appropriate requests for Vital Records, especially birth certificates from states you no longer reside in, and NUMERO UNO, the State Department.
Just so happens I was born abroad, which means I have to request a new copy directly from the State Department...a process that takes 4-6 weeks. What I DIDN'T know until after I'd sent in the request was that you can (and in most cases absolutely HAVE to) request that an Apostille be attached at the same time and of course make sure they know what country you're adopting from (since this only applies to those within the Hague Convention).
When I finally received my certificate right at that 6 week mark, I immediately overnighted it to a courier, who then notified me that it wasn't going to work and then sent it back. Couriers cannot walk in apostille requests on birth certificates for those born abroad. I now need to mail it to Vital records where it will take at minimum 7-10 business days for them to process it and attach the apostille. Dragging this all out to nearly 2 months just on one document.
2. Schedule the Dr visits!
I saved this till towards the end of my homestudy for some now unknown to me reason. Of course, when I did go to schedule them, I discovered our Dr.'s offices were booked at least a month out for well-visits! Doh! Maybe not a big deal if you're taking your time on things, but we're trying to bring a waiting child home as quickly as possible and this was a frustrating thing to find...and just hadn't considered it would take so long to get in for a simple check-up.
3. Make sure if there are any special or medical needs to be noted for your Dossier, that it is spelled out clearly on the form, and the Dr only has to sign and notarize. You would not believe the amount of back and forth we had to do to make sure this was all done, t's crossed and i's dotted. Save yourself the hassle and have your homestudy social worker write it all up.
4. When it comes time to get your dossier documents apostilled, some states have branches where you can just walk it in! You can also get a courier service to do this and save a lot of time waiting on processing and mail! We live 3 hours from the nearest branch, but it was still worth it to us to make a day trip of it and have it done, rather than mess with the mailing and courier service. Call your Secretary of State office for all the details!
5. Just breathe.
Seriously, do what you can, call and triple check what you need to do, but in the end. The timing is not in our hands, and it does no one any good to stress out about any part of the process.
Anything you think I should add? Or that might be helpful for others just starting this journey?