Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dossier Completed, in Just 3 Months

How We Completed Our Dossier in Just 3 Months

First, in the interest of full disclosure, this is our second adoption and the first one was just completed in February. So, everything I learned the first time was still fresh in my mind and of course, that made this second paperchase easier. But I know people who have done it this quickly the first time—or even a bit faster! So I am sharing these tips to be used for a first, second or you-fill-in-the–number paperchase!

• First, make the three folders: Gladney Application, CIS, China Dossier. Tape or staple the checklist that comes with the application to the back of that folder. Include all how-to packets from Gladney in the relevant folders, then put everything in one big accordion-style folder—and always keep it in the same place! I say this as someone who is not usually very organized with paperwork and is forever looking for things. I knew I could not be this way for something so important so I made my folders right away!
• Then, after looking over all the how-to packets, checklists, etc., set a deadline. This time I had one imposed on me—I was going back to work August 21st (after maternity leave with the delicious product of the first paperchase, Kathryn!). So I decided I would just get everything within my control done before I returned to work, since I knew my time would be much less flexible then! Also, this time, we have an identified child—so we already know her Chinese name, Ji Ji, where she is from (Guangdong, like her sister), her birthday—September 12, 2005—and most importantly, we have pictures. Those pictures are the most powerful motivator of all! But, for those of you in the traditional program, the motivator is just that getting your dossier to China as quickly as possible, means getting the soonest possible referral. Setting a deadline really helps you be organized about everything. I set one, albeit much more tentatively, the first time also.
• Maximize efficient use of your time and minimize duplication of effort. I was still home with Kathryn, but of course I needed Chris, my husband, to be present sometimes and he was working. So we did our doctors’ appointments—both the Gladney exam and the dossier exam at the same time—on a Saturday. We used Chris’s Monday off for ordering his birth certificate and our marriage certificate—both buildings were very close together so we did it at the same time. Chris had jury duty in Downtown Brooklyn, so he took the documents to the Brooklyn County Clerk. Our babysitter took both children for the day so I could crank out the Gladney application without interruption. The dossier pics and the Gladney app pics are one and the same, just make two copies. And have people take those pics when they’re coming over anyway (even if you’re all dressed up for the 4th of July, as we are in the pic of the outside of our house!). Mail in the I-600 A application right away, so you can cross it off your list, then when the homestudy is finished, just send it in.
• Order the docs that you know will take a while first. This is sort of related to the last bullet point, but I thought it was important enough to warrant its own bullet. We were pretty fortunate in that the only out-of-state document we needed for the dossier was my birth certificate. But I know that others have to order many documents from out of state. Do it first! You can work on other things while you’re waiting for those documents to arrive. It’s always a good feeling to know that something is in the works elsewhere while you are plugging away.
• Check things off—it feels good! Use all the lists in the guides provided by Gladney to check each thing off as you complete it. It really feels good to see the progress! Also read and re-read all the guides. It’s easy to miss little details the first time.
• Keep your eyes on the prize! The paperchase can be nerve-wracking and tedious—especially the parts you have no control over, like that wait for the I-171H!—but at the end of it all you will be DTC! Then you can settle into the long wait, and don’t be surprised if you miss having that to-do list to keep you occupied!

In my case, I met my goal of completing everything I could by August 21st. We had our fingerprinting appt. the very next day, the 22nd, and the I-171H came sooner than expected, just 2 weeks later. We had to wait to get our fingerprints for the Good Conduct Certificate cleared, and we dropped off our dossier the same day we picked the Good Conducts up. Had we known the I-171H would come so quickly, we might have been done in just 2 ½ months! But that’s how China adoption is—a lot of unknown variables you have no control over. My hope is that these tips will help you to have as much control over the paperchase as possible!

Accepted referral of Waiting Child—end of June
Dropped off dossier—September 22, 2006
DTC—October 3, 2006-10-03
Timeline: Just a few days over 3 months from accepting the referral to DTC

If I can do this, anyone can!!!

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