Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Journey Begins...

Today is a day I won't soon forget. Our journey to bring our daughter home from Guatemala has finally begun!

I'm not great at sitting down and journaling, and I type much more quickly than I write by hand, so this seems an appropriate way to document our experience for us and for our family as well as provide updates to those interested (or just insanely curious about how INsane we've possibly become!).

International adoption is an opportunity that has interested me for over a decade --- since even before I met David. David and I began discussing it as a way to expand our family even before we had Grace. I don't remember exactly when or how Guatemala first touched me, but ever since it did, it hasn't let go. In fact, I often say that I didn't choose international adoption; it chose me. It wasn't a choice I made; it was a choice that was made for me. The way I put it briefly, which we all know is a challenge for me, is to say that it's on the master To Do list for my life.

The process of adopting from Guatemala is lengthy and complicated. The initial stage, which we've just entered, is typically called The Paper Chase, because it is the time during which families spend a lot of time with paper --- reading it, filling it out, filing it, and in my case, based on the events of today at least, throwing it in the trash and starting over because I wasn't sure if the "l" in "Goldstone" was legible and I worried, "If they can't read it, will they try to find me as Elizabeth Goidstone Lyons, get confused, and refuse us?" Clearly, some things never change.

We will be filing our petition with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), which is technically called the I-600A. It is the Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition. At the same time, we're heading downtown to be fingerprinted (I'm sure Henry will love telling everyone his parents spent the morning at the police department downtown getting fingerprinted. I can't wait to explain that to everyone.). Our home study will begin, where our home study agency (located in Tucson) will, in a nutshell, "study" us to ensure that we are qualified to actually parent one child, let alone five (the jury make take a while with this decision!). We'll write autobiographies, order birth certificates, sift through boxes in the garage to find our marriage certificate, renew the passport of mine in which I look like I'm 12 (which is really sad because the new picture I had taken does NOT make me look like I'm 12), pray that our friends and family think we're sane enough that they will be willing to write reference letters for us, try to explain to Henry 13,000 times a day that we simply don't KNOW when his new sister will come home, and hopefully shortly begin demolition on her room (which is now a portion of the garage).

All in all, we expect this Paper Portion of the process to take approximately 3-4 months. When all the papers have been filled out, filed, approved, and otherwise finalized, our home study agency will send the entire packet to our adoption agency for review. They will then send the packet on to Guatemala and we'll wait. That ought to be fun. As everyone knows, I'm just GREAT at waiting!

That's probably enough for today. There's much to explain and document, but there's a big celebratory chocolate cake waiting for me in the kitchen (I felt this occasion was MORE than sufficient reason to buy not a slice of cake, but a whole cake, despite the fact that I'm trying to cut down on sugar).

More to come!