Monday, June 2, 2008

What an adventure!

At the advice of a friend, I decided to start a blog to record and remember all our experiences with adopting Katie. We decided to adopt again last August and began the official process in September. We went with the agency we had used with Alex, since we had such a positive experience with them. They weren't accredited yet (all agencies had to get reaccredited), but they were in the process and were told that they were close. Only a handful actually had their reaccreditation at this time, and all the others were still in the process like this one. We finished our homestudy at the end of September and sent it along with dozens of other documents to our agency in November. This dossier was received in Moscow in mid-November and we began just waiting for them to be translated and to receive our referral for a little girl.

After enjoying our holidays, we began inquiring about the state of our adoption in mid-January. We became very frustrated with our agency because we would send an email or leave a voicemail, and it would take days or weeks to get a response. Finally, we were told that our documents had been translated and were ready and waiting for a referral.

Then on February 26, our agency called and told us that they still didn't have their accreditation, it would be at least another 3-6 months, and it was in our best interest to change agencies. The next 8 days were an emotional and frantic roller coaster as we made dozens of phone calls and emails to find an agency that could take our documents that were already in Moscow and translated instead of having to start over. Also, the documents are only good for 12 months so we wanted an agency that could give us a quick referral so we wouldn't have to redo all the documents. We chose Alaska International Agency (AIA), and they have been wonderful!

The documents were passed to Andrei in Moscow and we found out that they had never been translated! That means the documents sat in Moscow for 4 months and nothing was done to them, even though we had been told otherwise. Needless to say, we were pretty upset about that. However, Andrei got the documents on March 5, we added a few extra the agency needed, they were translated, and Andrei filed them with the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Moscow on March 25! Out of all the regions AIA works in, Moscow City was handing out the quickest referrals so that's where our dossier was filed. However, the MOE was closed due to an inspection for about a week, but they reopened without too much of a delay.

On April 29, we received our referral for a little girl named Irina! She turned 3 two days later on May 1. We scrambled around getting plane tickets, lodging, visas, and our doctor set up for consultation, and left for Moscow on Saturday, May 10. We arrived on Sunday and got settled in our apartment. Monday was a free day (it was much cheaper to leave on Sat. than on Sun.), so we went shopping on Old Arbat Street and walked around Moscow.

On Tuesday, we went to the MOE for an interview and then went to the orphanage to meet Irina. We saw the head doctor first and got all her medical information and we were able to ask questions. Then they brought Irina in. She was so scared and reserved, and that is what you want to see. It shows she has a good attachment to her current caregivers. We were there about an hour playing with her and taking pictures and short video clips to send to our doctor. She was doing so much! We were both guardedly excited that the doctor would have a good analysis of her and that she could be ours. That night, we sent all the information we had gathered to the doctor and called her for her analysis and she was amazed at all Irina could do and said she looked great! She's tiny, but her head circumference is perfect and that's what they really look at. We were so excited that she was going to be our daughter!

Mosocw requires 6 visits before court and we saw Irina a total of 5 times on this first trip. Once we get our court date, we'll just arrive a day early to get that last visit in. By the last visit, she was saying 6-8 English words and was signing "more" and "all done." She is so bright and is picking up on things so quickly. We have had to rely on our faith in God so many times during this process, and we continue to be amazed as we watch God work in our lives.

I'll talk more about that in my next post. Until then,...

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