When we started with our agency, they gave us a timeline for how the adoption process would proceed. They gave us what they called realistic timeframes for the adoption finalization. But we've come to learn that sometimes, their "realistic timeframes" don't always work out.
When we signed with the agency in February 2005, they assured us that our baby would be home by the end of the year. In fact, when we received our immigration paperwork in May, the expected pick up date was Sept. 7.
The first part of the adoption process involves a lot of paperwork, much of which is handled by the parents. The faster we get the paperwork done, the faster we get a referral, and the faster our baby gets home. That's the plan, anyways. Our dossier, the packet of forms required for the adoption, was time-consuming but we completed it within 4 weeks (around March 10). That included completing the homestudy, a process involving a social worker, classes and home inspections. We would have finished in 3 weeks but we failed the first fire inspection. Oops, no safety valve on the hot water tank but it was fixed and okayed a week later (not that that matters now because we've had a new one installed since.)
So our part went smoothly and fairly quickly. Then the waiting began.
The last form for the dossier was the immigration paperwork giving preapproval for the adoption. We had to appear at the Homeland Security Office, get fingerprinted and have background checks done by the FBI (all okayed). Now we just needed the paper saying "it's okay" to proceed.
We waited for what seemed like forever. We started to worry after four weeks without a word. So we called INS. They couldn't find our file. Yikes! This meant that we may have to go through INS again and pay again, not a small fee. They requested a few weeks to search for the documents.
Finally, the day before we left for a two-week vacation, the approval letter came. Thank goodness. Apparently, someone was working on our file, was interrupted and more files were put over ours, getting lost in the shuffle. (This should have told us this was not going to be the typical adoption.)
When our dossier was complete with INS approval , no babies were available. We had wanted a girl but decided to take a boy if one became available. We waited two weeks when we got the call a boy was available. We asked when girls were expected to be available and we were told about a week. We've waited this long. "Let's wait for a girl." A week came and went. But on Monday, June 20, Isabella's paperwork was presented to us. We've found our Izzy!