Maybe… you’re trying to keep straight who in the world I’m talking about.
Maybe… you’re trying to figure out just how a UA adoption might work.
Maybe… you are new to our blog and just want to know what’s going on.
Maybe… you fall into none of those categories and this is pretty much as far as you care to read into the blog post…
Regardless… here is some info to help (ME) you know what’s up. I promise it will be long, but informative if you care to be informed :)
Right now we are in the midst of not just one adoption, but two. They are completely separate but simultaneous adoptions. One is near Kiev, one is in another region several hours drive from Kiev.
UA adoptions begin by compiling paperwork that contains such things as marriage certificates, home information, income proof, a homestudy, medicals, and the long-awaited (generally!) approval from US immigration.
The large stack of 40+ documents all together is called a dossier. (Pronounced dos’-ee-ey, meaning a collection or file of documents on the same subject, especially a complete file containing detailed information about a person or topic.)
US Immigration is referred to as USCIS or in some people’s blogs, you may see it mentioned as INS, its previous name. (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
After being prepared and checked (see below), the dossier goes for state apostilles, which are basically a state level ‘ok’ saying that each form that was notarized bears the seal and signature of a notary that is licensed by that state to bear witness to the signature.
During the paperwork process, families generally work with a US agency or organization that will assist with checking their paperwork for the dossier. In our case, Reece’s Rainbow was the ministry that provided this support, and I was the director of the UA portion of the program. I worked directly with Lyndi, who ‘specializes’ in dossiers being prepared for Oleg’s families. Lyndi was what is referred to as my “team member”, “State side assistant”, or “coordinator.”
Oleg, as mentioned above, is the facilitator that we are working with. He is the head of our team here in UA and my dossier was mailed directly to him when it was completed. He arranged for it to be translated then submitted to the SDA.
The SDA is the State Department on Adoptions. Also called the SDAPRC or the State Department on Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child. And, the long and formal name is the State Department on Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child of the Ministry of Family, Sports and Youth of Ukraine. How’s that for a mouth full??
Once submitted to the SDA, they do a very thorough check of each and every document to ensure its authenticity as well as that the correct documents were provided and that the family does indeed qualify to adopt from UA. If it is accepted then they will, within a few weeks’ time, issue an appointment date for the family to come for an interview and to see referrals of available children.
Due to the nature of Ukraine adoptions, pre-selection is not allowed. No family is guaranteed a child’s referral until they receive it, and for this reason families must be open to the idea that God may have a different child than the one that they have begun the process for when all is said and done. When a family commits to a child, this does nothing official in Ukraine to get that referral, though a petition is sent to notify the SDA that a family is gathering their paperwork for that child. Typically, the SDA will not show that file to other adoptive parents as a “blind referral” if they know a family is coming (and it is a special needs child).
The idea of a blind referral is because parents generally go to UA without knowing what child they will be referred. We did this twice during our adoption in 2008. Once receiving Misha (now Micah Malone)’s referral and once receiving our little Micah’s referral (ironic on the names, no?).
During this step, the facilitator generally ‘hands’ a family partially over to their translator, or regional facilitator. That person will also go to the SDA with the family and will run around the region with the family to lead them through the adoption process and all the ins and outs and paperwork and meetings and… well, they are very busy :) Our regional facilitator for Wesley’s adoption is Nadya (sometimes spelled Nadia). She is VERY sweet and we met when I visited Wesley back in September. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about her from previous families and I must say that she has held up to their high remarks of her!
So, incase you’re browsing and not reading… (like I inevitably would be doing), Nadya is our translator for Wesley’s adoption. :)
Ok, so, the invitation for an appointment is given and families make arrangements to come to UA a day or so prior to attend the interview. At the interview, families are shown either a requested referral, a ‘blind’ referral, or a combination of the two, depending upon the paperwork that they submitted. Families then choose to accept whichever referrals they want to accept- up to the number requested on their paperwork.
As far as multiple children goes, if a family requests 2 or more children, the SDA can allow multiple children at one appointment… or not. Recently some families have received 2, even 3 referrals for children at the same facility in one meeting. Others have had multiple appointments.
Us personally, we received the referral only for Aleksa at the first appointment, and we will request a second appointment later in the week to receive Wesley’s referral. It is very common to have to have multiple appointments for 2 or more kids, and almost a given when the children are in different regions.
Since we are adopting from two different regions, we were introduced today to the translator that will work with us for Aleksa’s adoption. Her name is Yana and she is also wonderful from what we know of her. She has friends in many circles and has done adoptions in Aleksa’s region (but not her institution) previously. We spent some time talking with her today and she will be the one to bring us to region tomorrow.
When we go to region tomorrow, we will first go to the main city nearest to the institution. There we will meet with the Inspector. He will give us permission (or so we hope :) ) to visit with Aleksa and will verify that our paperwork and referral from the SDA are correct.
The Inspector is something like a social worker would be in the US. He is the same person that held that position 2 1/2 years ago and remembers us from our visit at that time. He was VERY supportive of our adoption of Aleksa and we hope and pray to again find favor with him. He accompanied us to Aleksa’s institution previously, and he may do so again tomorrow.
The director that we have spoken of whom we are going specifically to speak with, is the one that runs the institution. He needs to sign off on the adoption in order for it to be processed. The director is a Christian man, a person who cares about the kids, and someone who I believe will do a lot to keep them safe. He has family ties to other “high up authorities” in that area which means that without his signature and ok on the adoption, it is unlikely that it can go through even though there are legally other people that could sign off on our paperwork instead of him. It would be a battle and likely cost weeks and weeks, and thousands of dollars, and one that we did not feel in the past that we were being called to fight… nor do we feel it would be the right decision now. The director needs to sign for himself, or a representative for him (if he is in the hospital) in order for us to proceed with Aleksa’s adoption.
I won’t go any further right now… that’s the basics of it all.
SDA - UA governmental agency for adoption referrals
Regional Facilitator for Wesley- Nadya
Regional Facilitator for Aleksa- Yana
Inspector- social worker
Director- head of the orphanage
Aleksa- 8 yr old girl with Down syndrome who we tried to adopt in 2008 and has ‘resurfaced’ in our lives during this adoption process and we are trying to bring home despite our previously failed attempt
Wesley- 5 yr old boy with Cerebral Palsy and other special needs who we will definitely (as far as you can ‘definitely’ do anything in UA…) be making a part of our family.
Michael- the love of my life and father of all our beautiful children
Meredith- the wordy blogger who usually just goes by “Mommy”
How’s that for way more info than you really wanted to know? It’s posts like this that built the Ukraine Handbook! :)