Developing an understanding of which parts of the process take the longest, and therefore which should be initiated first, will enable you to expedite the process to some degree. It's also important to understand which documents are dependent upon other documents, that is, which documents are on the "critical path." For example, you cannot complete your dossier without the I-171H form, which cannot be completed without a homestudy, which cannot be completed without the Child Abuse Check in many states. Therefore the Child Abuse Check may have the potential to delay the entire process.
Out of state / out of country:
If you were born, married, divorced, or had a spouse who died in another state, or another country, get started on those documents early. The state (or country) where the event took place must certify these documents. That may become time consuming. Do your research to find out how to get them certified in that particular state.
I-600A / Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
One of the very first things you should do as you begin your adoption process is to request the I-600A and related forms from the INS, fill them out, and return them as soon as possible.
The INS would like your social security numbers on the I-600A. Unfortunately, currently, they have not indicated a spot for them. Squeeze them in somewhere, and identify what they are and whose social security number is whose. This could help avoid some delays down the road.
Working with the Homestudy Agency:
As soon as you pick out your homestudy agency, ask them about the slowest part of the homestudy, and start that right away. As previously mentioned, the Child Abuse Check often takes the longest in some states.
Learn to love writing cover letters. Write cover letters for everything you send. Include your name, address, phone and e-mail address. The three most important rules of cover letters are be nice, be nice, and be nice. Not only will it help you in your adoption, but also it will help smooth the way for others who come along behind you.
So, be nice and include a big "thank you" to whomever you are writing for helping you with such an important event. List very specifically what is included in the package your are sending.
For anything you send that has multiple documents in it, be sure to include either in the body of the cover letter, or separately, a detailed document list. Click here to see a sample document list.
In very large letters, on any envelopes you send, print "Important Adoption Documents Enclosed".
Use overnight delivery services for important documents for easy tracking. We suggest overnighting the following documents:
completed homestudy to the INSdocs for certification to the Secretary of the Statedocs for authentication to the consulate authenticated docs to World Child
Just remind yourself why you're doing this, and you'll see any amount of frustration will be ultimately worth it.
Contributed by World Child
Avoiding the Pitfalls
Worth the Wait!
Part One of Two
A realistic look at International Adoption
Practical tips for new adoptive parents
"I think there was nothing random about the events of that day.."